Meet My New Second Life Avatar (Which Reminded Me Why I Rarely Update My Second Life Avatar)
Amid all the Linden Lab tumult last month, I forgot to mention a small news item: After many years, my Second Life avatar Hamlet Au has undergone a major makeover. As with my previous one (which hasn't changed much since, oh, 2005), it's a stylized version of real life me, with a white suit as props to Tom Wolfe:
This new Hamlet comes to you thanks to the styling wisdom of Mr. Winter Jefferson, a master of male avatar fashion. Here's the key new features he selected:
- Skin: Belleza Thomas v2 SK 4
- Hair: MADesigns HAIR, "Bernard", Espresso color
- Eyes: Pulse-Avanti Eyes/Duccio
- Suit: SF Design Performance Suit - wearing Closed Jacket Grey, Shirt for prim collar, open collar slimmer, tie worn low and Pants with Lower Vest
This new Hamlet is a work in progress, as I'll probably be making tweaks here and there. Winter was extremely helpful and patient, as he took me from store to store, to buy and equip (and adjust) the items he'd pre-selected. But the whole process, I have to say, reminded me why I rarely adjust my avatar, because it crystallizes all my frustrations with Second Life as an experience and a virtual world with so much squandered potential:
While Second Life virtual fashion is among the world's most popular and lucrative forms of user-generated content, it is also among the most aggravating, confusing, user-unfriendly aspects of Second Life.
There are well over 1000 active Second Life blogs, most of which are devoted to SL fashion. The largest SL fashion blog is larger than the real life fashion blog of the Los Angeles Times. This speaks to the ingenuity of the SL community, who have thrived despite all the barriers imposed by SL itself.
For example, here is what my new hair looked like, when I first tried to fit it onto my head:
Stuff like this happens because there is no automated "snap to" or adjustment to Second Life hair attachments, which are themselves a workaround to the extremely limited hair customization options provided by default. But I was lucky to even find this hair piece at all, because I misplaced it in my inventory. (Yes, there are inventory filters, but if you have thousands of items in there, as I do, it's still a slow, time-consuming process, as the servers struggle to locate and display all your assets.) Compare this merciless Bataan Death March of interactivity to pretty much any popular virtual world or computer game, which generally come with a sleek, intuitive "paper doll" interface, and Second Life falls far short.
In fact, I'll go so far as to say this: over the last couple years, if Linden Lab had only concentrated on improving the avatar customization aspect of the user interface, so that it was about as user-friendly as The Sims franchise, user growth would be far far faster than what it is now.