Is This Tiny SL Avatar the Smallest Avatar in Any MMO?

Terry Shuriken created this tiny-ass Second Life avatar and it may very well be the tiniest ass avatar in the world of MMOs:

It is, writes Terry, "Somewhere between 1/3rd or 1/4th of an inch tall. This is my smallest avatar! I made it using avatar workbench/blender." But I'm not quite sure how Terry pulled this off: Can the avatar fully move its whole body, like a standard avatar? And how exactly did Terry build it in Workbench/Blender?

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Get Ready for Halloween by Looking at These Gruesome NBA 2K15 Face Scanning Errors

Operation Sports NBA 2K15 Face Scan
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

While face scanning technology may be gaining momentum as a tool for customizing player avatars, it seems like the process is still very far from foolproof. The face scanning in newly-released NBA 2K15 in particular has been getting a lot of attention for some of its more monstrous interpretations of player faces, some of which could absolutely pass for Halloween masks. 

Naturally people are having a very good time sharing the very best of the worst face scans. Operation Sports shared the haunting compilation above, while over on Gamespot you can find a video of how several of their staff members look through the NBA 2K15 lens. Sometimes it works well, sometimes... Less so. Even some of the better examples occasionally cover the avatars in strange bruises and smears, like the player spawned by Giant Bomb

So what's going wrong here? A few things...

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Want to Put Your RL Face on Your SL Avatar? New Company Seeking Alpha Testers Who Want to Try Just That

Game yourself avatar

Click here to subscribe to try out new technology to convert your real world face onto your avatar, a technology that the folks at GameYourself are Alpha testing for Second Life right now:

"We are developing a face scanning technology for games that allows users to have their own face for their character," GameYourself's Balint Barlai tells me. "The mobile application we are developing works like this: after the user records a video of his face with his mobile phone, the application produces a 3D model that can be used in a game for one's character.

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Thoughts on Avatar & Gender Identity in Second Life

Vax Sirnah in RL and SL

"People whose avatars are a different sex than IRL, how do you let others in SL know?" is a good question with some fairly thoughtful answers on Reddit's /SecondLife community. Here's one from Caitlin_Tobias:

After being in SL for over 7 years, I have long ago decided: I will treat and address anyone to the gender they portray in SL. It is SL, if someone looks like a guy and acts like a guy, for me... it is a guy. It is not only simplifying my own SL, but also I think it is a form of respect to not doubt or question someones RL gender.

Which brings up this reply from VeliciaL:

Coming from a trans background, this is considered a common courtesy in those circles. If someone is presenting as a certain gender, it's pretty likely they want to be referred as that gender. Not doing so is kind of a dick move.

How about RL women portraying SL males? That's covered too. This from ElderSign:

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Lack of Avatar Racial Diversity in an MMO Makes Black Users More Likely to Create White Avatars & Hide Their Real Race, Academic Study Suggests

Erika Therian Second Life avatar

According to a study by Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee at Ohio State University, Discovery Magazine reports, a lack of avatar racial diversity in an MMO impels black users to create white avatars. Lee's study was conducted in Second Life, but seems generally applicable to MMOs in general where it's possible for usres to designate their race:

Lee gathered 56 study participants — half identifying as white and half identifying as black. She then had them read a fabricated magazine story titled “Meet the Coolest ‘Second Life’ Residents.” The eight “Second Life” avatars profiled in the story were either all white, in the low-diversity scenario, or an equal mix of white, black, Hispanic and Asian, in the high-diversity scenario. She then had them perform two tasks: Create and customize their own virtual avatars, and rate their willingness to reveal their real racial identity through the appearance of their virtual avatar. She found that black participants reported less willingness in the low-diversity scenario, and that they also created whiter avatars, as judged by objective raters. By comparison, white study participants were largely unaffected by either the high-diversity or low-diversity scenarios. [Emph. mine]

In other words, when the "cool avatars" are presented to be all white, black users tend to choose white avatars for themselves, while keeping quiet about their real race. This academic study matches the anecdotal reports we've been writing about on this blog, beginning in 2006 with "The Skin You're In", in which a white user experienced prejudice after she started using a black avatar. (An experiment another white user tried last year.) African-American users like Eboni Khan have told me about this phenomenon from their own perspective too:

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Draxtor Despres' Mixed Reality Documentary Series Returns With the Man Behind Some of SL's Best Designed Spaces

Drax Files Editorial Clarity
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

There's a new episode of Draxtor Despres' mixed reality machinima documentary series The Drax Files: World Makers (which is now sponsored by Linden Lab,) and it's packed with absolutely breathtaking virtual spaces. That's because episode 21 focuses on Editorial Clarity, the aptly named avatar behind SL interior design blog Love to Decorate and its complimentary magazine. As always the opportunity to learn what's inspired, motivated, and changed some of Second Life's most talented and interesting individuals is invaluable.

Clean lines, cracked plaster, and a wealth of inspiration await. Watch the full episode for yourself after the cut:

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When You Realize You're Related to Another SL User

AM Radio SL artist

AM Radio just sent me this interesting coda to my profile of him in Polygon: SL fashionista Gabriella Karillion was checking her real life Facebook wall, noticed people sharing the article in which AM Radio's RL name is publicly revealed for the first time, and like they say in Facebook clickbait posts, you won't believe what she discovered next:

I realized a connection that I never knew existed. Little did I know that possibly the most well known artist in SL is related to me in RL.

Just imagine, Gabriella Karillion and AM Radio at the same family reunions and backyard barbecues, not knowing about each other's SL identity. I also like her own explanation for why she keeps her SL activity secret:

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The 5 Most Hated Virtual Fashion Faux Pas in Second Life

Marcia London's Average Avi
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Last week I asked you about your most hated virtual fashion faux pas and you weren't terribly shy about your answers. Some offered complaints best illustrated in the satirical picture above by Marcia London, which there were a few other suggestions that came out of left field.

So what are the most reviled fashion missteps in Second Life? Let's start with...

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Male MMO Players Choose a Female Avatar for the Booty -- But Then Start Expressing Themselves "Like Women" Too

World of Warcraft Female avatars

MMO expert Nick Yee highlights a new study on male World of Warcraft players who play with a female avatar -- and matches that with his own research:

The researchers found that the men were more than three times as likely as the women to gender-switch (23 percent vs. 7 percent). When selecting female avatars, these men strongly preferred attractive avatars with traditional hairstyles—long, flowing locks as opposed to a pink mohawk. And their chat patterns shifted partway toward how the real women spoke: These men used more emotional phrases and more exclamation points than the men who did not gender-switch. In other words, these men created female avatars that were stereotypically beautiful and emotional.

Curiously, Yee goes on, the men in the study all chose female avatars not to gender bend per se, but for heterosexual reasons. Despite this, they unconsiously start gender-bending anyway:

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Linden Lab Unveils New Avatar Fitting Classifications for Second Life -- But Will They Work?

True

Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Linden Lab has unveiled a new way for shoppers and designers to identify what will and what won't fit a Second Life avatar. Rooted in this Knowledge Base entry, designers can now find badges like the one above meant to identify products intended for normal and mesh-augmented avatars respectively, as well as detailed instructions for how to access new categorization options on the SL Marketplace that will allow designers to list products that require certain base components (for example SLink mesh feet, hands, or heads) to work properly. 

So will it get the job done? Here are my thoughts:

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