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Friday, July 17, 2009

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Elusyve

I try to respect everyones choice in how they wish to represent themselves, but I think I am in the majority, when I say that I draw the line at "sexualizing children". (as Chey's post stated as well)

Using adult makeup skins, giving a child butt/boobs, sexy AO's, and a manner of talking which can imply many things... These are the things that disturb most of the people who have issues with child avies, because these are the things that we would be outraged with in RL.

Loki

Anyone who is serious about being a child Avatar will spend eternity trying to capture the things that remind them of their youth. The clothes, the skins, the hair the shoes.

Not everyone has a good dress sense though. I'm not denying that there are child avatars that wear items that look like they were bought from an Adult avatar store (or freebies even) and look out of place on their child shapes, but i would not go so far to accuse them of sexualising children.

We are talking about a community that when you join, you have no real idea how to be. It's easy to be drawn to the fun and games of being a kid again, but it's another thing to know how to act and dress. For alot of us i think we are still exploring what it means to to have a second Childhood in virtual worlds. Most of us have come to realise that we dont have to ACT as a kid with broken words, we just need to act ourselves as it can be in our nature to be childish.

I also haven't met any child avatars that have butt boobs.

Shava Nerad/Shava Suntzu in SL

My son never spoke like the thumb sucking "Will ooo be my mommy?" types in SL. Children who act like this are often hurt and needy and victims of neglect or abuse, and I think that's why they bother us.

I feel much about them as I would if I saw an adult AV walking around in a diaper -- it may not be sexual, but it just doesn't feel healthy.

It's a sick, unrealistic characature of a real kid. They are imbodying a "blackface" version of childhood, full of distortions from any kids I know, and feeling somewhat insulting and uncomfortable.

It's the kind of child roleplay I've only heard of in infantilizing sexual ageplay, frankly.

In some ways, this is an issue of the "uncanny valley" in AVs, and I think we need to embrace that problem. A furry won't feel as artificial to most of us as a badly-played child, because we don't really *know* what a furry would act like. Likewise for a robot, or a fairy.

(for those unfamiliar with the concept of the uncanny valley, check out
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley)

But we all know what a child acts like, and children who don't act like real children make us uncomfortable. It is too close to the real for us not to compare the behavior to an expectation. Especially when the roleplay adopts behaviors like thumbsucking and speech problems that would be considered pathology in a child of their assumed age.

When I find someone playing a child who "feels" like a real, bright, well-adjusted, un-needy, well-spoken kid, I don't get that squirmy feeling I do when dealing with what I've come to think of as SL's "broken dolls."

We have a few great kids who've come to the Odd Ball, and they've been welcome, and seamless members of the community.

Gahum Riptide

My problem with most child avs is that most of them get it wrong. The cartoonish baby talk with avs that look like 8 year olds is my biggest issue. My nephew is 5 years old and doesn't speak that way. In fact when he was 3 he didn't speak that way. We expected him to speak properly, no baby talk.

Most of them also mix up being misbehaved, and rudeness with innocence. When I was 8, if I ever talked smack to an adult, my mother would have pulled me aside and punished me. However, most of these children who act that way run to their parents who are just as ill behaved. Unfortunately, I've begun to think that being a child av makes their controllers think it's free license to be an asshole.

I've decided recently that if a child av is going to act up, and wander around adult areas unsupervised, I am going to treat them like I would any real life child.

Renmiri Writer

Two couples I know went through the whole "SL Pregnancy" thing then had a friend roleplay as their kid. It was cute!

Non-sexual roleplaying as someone's kid is harmles IMHO. Even of they do talk baby talk and go for stereotypes, if all involved are having fun being a family, why not ?

SL lets you explore a lot of situations without needing to commit to it for life: geing a tattoo, getting married, having kids, running a business, being ofa different age / gender, being non-human... As long as no one gets hurt, I see no problem with it and even benefits, because t teaches people to be more tolerant of others.

Jura Shepherd

I'm for people doing what they like and none of child avis I've been around gave me perv vibes but... I do think that some deliberately choose a style that is controversial in order to illicit a response. It's not limited to child avis or even sl, but sometimes people dress/act in a way that makes them a caricature for a certain stereotype and then become spuriously outraged when someone stereotypes them. Again, do what you like but don't expect people to feel sorry for you.

Jadzia Vought

I roleplay as a child in SL, and i will admit a couple of my words are "baby talk", but i base that on a 4year old i look after in real life.

The words i use and how they're typed, is how she says them. I've been looking after her since she was 8months old, and as she's grown up, i've based 2 of my main avatars on her way of speaking at the ages in which i play them...2years and 4years old.

Like Renmiri said, if all are having fun, thats all that matters.

I have on occasion been around someone not used to the broken typing, so i've adapted it so they could understand me.

The longer i play a kid, the more my way of talking changes to be more realistic. I'm always learning.

But thats my opinion :) and i respect everyone elses opinions too. :D

Cajsa Lilliehook

I have met one child in SL who did not talk babytalk and display rudeness that would have had me sent to my room in a heartbeat as a child. In what dysfunctional families are children allowed to break into and dominate adult conversations and in particular to interrupt with baby talk and rude questions? Most families expect children to defer to adults in conversation but I have yet to meet any child in SL who does not think they should be the center of attention - and so, send them to their rooms or to stand in a timeout in a corner.

If you are going to play a child, why play a rude, disprectful spoiled brat?

Marianne McCann

For what its worth, I agree with Cheyenne by and large. While I do have my own "inflections" I'll put in my conversational speech, it's a far cry from "I sowwy!" style ikklespeak or the vocal stylings of "L'il Markie." FWIW, while I do claim to be able ot speak ikklespeak in my SL profile, some of the more "advanced cases" are all but impossible to parse. I also really don't get a lot of the kids who claim an RP age of say, 8 or so, but still use binkys and (ugg) diapers.

I do wonder one thing, and I suspect this may be a challenge. A lot of the kid RPers like myself kinda scattered into our own private estates in 2007, given the vagaries of the "ageplay" policy at that time. As a result, we don't generally "mix" with the rest of the SL population. The trouble with this, as I see it, is that those who are out there haven't not found the kid spaces (and therefore don't know there are kid-specific skins and goods), aren't part of that subculture, etc. -- yet it is them that the majority are meeting and thinking "this is what SL kids are about."

Marianne McCann

Oh, and I'd better clarify for the "lets parse this post into a bajillion pieces" folks. The vast majority of us child avatars scattered into estates not to do things that aren't allowed in SL, but because we were tired of the vigilantes and petty griefers who decided that "kid is the new fur" and wanted to have fun at our expense. It was simply easier to get our own places where we could avoid the hassles. Over the course of the next couple years, these places have developed into places dearly loved by the kids and families who populate them.

Valiant Westland

Like others who have commented on this subject here and elsewhere, the "Huck Finn" variety of child avatar does not bother me in the least. In fact, one of my oldest friends in SL, created an Alice In Wonderland-themed Sim, that she frequently managed in RP as an age-authentic Alice.

In contrast to this, is the "family," composed of a "mother," "father" and "Lolita-esque" pubescent teen "daughter," I encountered at EtCetera, while checking out EtCetera's new line of Tuscon furniture (Nice BTW). The "family" was out shopping for a new bed, that according to their public chat, needed to be "...big enough for them to all snuggle in..." This prompted an instant visceral reaction on my part, that has negatively colored my view of child avatars ever since.

Although controversial and invariably drawing outrage from a vocal minority when mentioned; I believe SL has more than its fair share of emotionally "challenged" individuals. Many of these people act out their "challenges" and/or self-prescribed virtual therapies via role play, including roles as child avatars.

Regardless of whether people are role playing as child avatars or not, I've found those who refuse to "grow up," whether they are in the body of an adult or child avatar, are the source of most of SL's negative drama and unhealthy behavior.

"When I was a child I spoke as a child I understood as a child I thought as a child; but when I became a man I put away childish things."

A personal quote that I try to live by is:

"I wish to become more and more child-like, while becoming less and less childish."

Tateru Nino

Not sexual? Not creepy.
Not sexual? Not a problem.

Some folks need to grow up a little, and I'm not referring to the ones with the child avatars.

Tateru Nino

(Well, not creepy unless we're talking about the intentionally creepy-little-girl horror trope, but that's a whole different kettle of shoggoths)

Arcadia Codesmith

I consider myself tolerant of most forms of roleplay (and I indulge in it myself from time to time), but at the same time, roleplay is never a license to be a jerk, whether you're RPing a vampire, an anthropomorphic sloth, or a child. I don't care what you're playing at, you're fully accountable as an adult human for your behavior and the consequences of your actions.

And pet peeve alert; if you're going to a nightclub or ballroom, put on your grown-up shape, clothes and manners. Disrupting the atmosphere of a location with an inappropriate avatar is rude, even if it's not explicitly prohibited, and nobody's going to cry for you if you get tossed out on your frilly little bum.

But playing tetherball at a playground? Go for it.

Mitch Wagner

I have had very little contact with child avatars in SL. For that matter, I've had very little contact with RL children.

I'll admit to finding child avatars creepy, for reasons I have difficulty articulating.

I think a lot of it has to do with my antipathy to romanticizing childhood. Children are selfish, cruel, self-centered, ignorant and dependent on others. I don't have any desire to return to that state.

In real life, I enjoy the company of some children a great deal. But I don't kid myself that they're superior to adults.

And in real life, I had a reasonably happy, middle-class, suburban, American childhood. I was a geeky kid, which carried with it the kind of social problems that you'd expect, but otherwise I had a pretty good time.

Note that I'm not trying to judge other people's SL choices here. I've been told by several people that Marianne McCann is a lovely person, and she probably is.

Arwyn Quandry

While I think the sexualized child avies are terrible, in one way you could actually say that it is realistic to some of the modern children. The "ProstiTots" phenomenon has swept First Life, fueled by Bratz dolls and miniskirts for real six year olds. It's terrible, and in some ways abusive when parents fuel it, but many real life little girls are not what adults think of kids as being any more - they're sexualized humans, wearing belly shirts and thongs and glitter makeup, aiming to be, in their own terms, "sexy". Elementary school girls are going on diets and associate being thin with being "hot". In some ways, it might be better to have the stupid child avies in SL who "twalk wike dis" over the sexualized children of the real world.

I haven't had contact with any true child avies in-world, so my perspective may be slightly off, but I understand the basis of the child avie.

Arwyn Quandry

I do understand the freedom that comes from playing a child. I used to roleplay on Habbo quite a bit, and my favorite kind of roleplay was Star Wars. I established an entire family line, and all of my characters except for one I played as children, three of which I played from early childhood through to old age, and had them age up, fall in love, marry, and have children who would become my next character.

It's a joy to play a child because the child can do just that - play. One of my favorite memories is my character Yemni playing with a boy whom she would eventually marry, just climbing trees and running around without a care in the world about Sith or Jedi or anything.

Doreen Garrigus

When you are all busy being creeped out by "child avatars" who have butts and boobs, who wear adult skins with makeup on them, who wear sexy clothes and AOs, please make sure the avatar you are looking at is actually supposed to be a child.

Be aware of avatar size inflation. Recognize that most of you are seven and a half feet tall. Do not baby talk at my Human Scale adult avatar just because you have not taken the time to figure out how tall you are. I will be rude.

How do you know how tall you are? Do not use a height detector. Most of them measure the bounding box of the avatar and report a height that is about six inches too short.

Instead, attach a semi-transparent prim to your pelvis. Get on a pose stand. Stretch the prim until it is as tall as your avatar. Look at the height of the prim.

The average human being is 1.7 meters tall. Men are about 1.75 meters, women about 1.65 meters. The average player in the NBA is 2 meters tall. How tall are you?

One of the wonderful things about Second Life is that you can look like absolutely anything you want to look like. I have no objection to anyone's avatar shape or size. Be what you want to be. But please don't assume I'm a child just because I come up to your belly button. This is as tall as I'm ever going to get.

Frank Saxmundham

C'mon people this stuff is extremely creepy. The entire virtual world is highly sexualized. We are all playing at the 18 year old stud/teen goddess we remember ourselves to be. Rendering a child av in such a context. and especially adopting childish speech patterns while doing so, is especially abhorrent. I do not want to see this in any context, and I think that it is inexcusable. I have encountered very many damaged people in world, and I would rather think of the world as a refuge where they can regain some semblance of themselves rather than a place which panders to the base desires that damaged them in the first place.

Doreen Garrigus

Actually, Frank, I think the central point of this conversation is that _not_ everybody is "playing at the 18 year old stud/teen goddess we remember ourselves to be." There are some of us who don't us SL in any way that could be construed as sexual. Some people specifically make child avatars so they won't get hit on. I usually use a tiny avatar for that, although my Fizzlepop did get propositioned the other day, to my enduring amazement. I guess there is a kink for every kind. Who knew?

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