Thursday, April 8, 2010

Second Life Domesticity?

Written 8 April, 2010

Second Life Domesticity?

Tonight, in my e-mail in-box, I found an ad from Linden Lab: Decorate Your New Linden Home Today!

Check it out!

I cannot believe the ad features a child avatar!

I've made my feelings about child avies known in previous posts (see here and here). I will not discrminate against and and am opposed to those who do, but for most people, myself including, there's a definite creepiness factor.

Considering Linden Lab's previous shying away from controversy, it beats hell out of me why they would release an ad picturing a happy Second Life family with what appears to be a five-year-old child.

And not only a five-year-old child, but one that seems to be sexualized. I mean, those are clearly breasts. (Thanks to Sweetie's eagle eye for spotting that.)


Anonymous said...

Getting that email made me sad.

It's like: "Live the dream of a family you'll never have!"

Anonymous said...

I noticed that too, with the child avi...who approves this stuff?

Marianne McCann said...

"Sexualized?" Blane the avatar mesh (and whoever at the ad agency picked that skin). I presume you don't look at kids and only see sex when you do, as I know you better than that!

To me, I see an ad that shows the "traditional nuclear family" and is designed to appeal to people who are "playing house" with their Linden Home. That ol' "The Sims" audience.

If anything, I worry more about this as a signpost for a grid merge in the future more than anything about "zOMG sexualized child avatars."

Dorie said...

The child av isn't sexualized. It's just a victim of the current av mesh. The mesh is designed for humans post-puberty, so it looks creepy for children.

But otherwise, the ad was a bit startling to me too. I hadn't thought of the Sims appeal that Marianne mentioned.

And all this amid continuing server issues that make content creation and consumption a bit scary to attempt.

Ideajuice Studios said...

Machinimatographers in SL use child avatars occasionally, so I hope that whatever sorts of rules and restrictions might be put in place, child avatars are never banned summarily.

I do agree somewhat with the notion that sexualized child avatars are objectionable while non sexualized avatars *might not* be, but that opens up a whole debate about what constitutes a sexualized avatar and what doesn't. Although some cases might be easy to judge, there is bound to be a huge amount of grey area.

Here are a couple of SL machinima made using child avatars. Hopefully they illustrate that there are legitimate uses for them.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first comment.. it does make you sad for the family you don't have.

And for shame on the lindens if a female avatar really cannot have the breasts be flat! what a woman isn't a woman if the sliders are all the way down to flat? Though come to think if it lot of the mean basically have breasts too their chests are so exaggerated.
If people want to play children I am fine with that. Those residents should at least have the option to actually look like a child.

Finally, regarding grids merging.... I am fine with people who play Sims coming to SL as long as they understand the other characters are actually real people. What worries me more is that we will merge to face book & all be forced to have our great aunts and x-professors as "friends" and visit each others farms. "Won't you please friend me and visit my farm? My Sion chickens are hungry!"

Cheyenne Palisades said...

I didn't realize the sliders didn't allow breasts to be made completely flat; that's unfortunate-- and so is the shape being limited to M and F. Why the dichotomy.

Still, I would have to say that at least half of the female child avies I've seen have been sexualized deliberately by their typists, with heavy makeup, lots of adult-type jewelry, lots of skin showing (look at the bare midriff in the Linden ad), and sexually suggestive AOs. Half of the remainder use infantalized silly language as if they were children of a certain age with an IQ of 40.

I realize such child avies make it difficult for those, like Marianne, who play their avatars seriously as children. Not sexualized, not stupid. I just told Marianne in IM she reminds me of the character PeeWee in Robert A. Heinlein's HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL-- one of my favorite books. Peewee is an intellectually girl of about 12.

Marianne is concerned about the merger of the teen and main Second Life grids. I am so, as I have no idea how that could possibly work without putting teens at risk from sexual predators. We both think the ad is more than a bit Sims-like.

Think about it. As Marianne just said, Adult activity mode to Zindra, Linden homes, the infamous ad-- and she just pointed out something I didn't know-- the new library avatars-- or at least some of them-- have baked on chaste underwear!

Anonymous said...

I hate kiddie avies in SL. I will continue to hunt them, Ar them and basically make their lives the very hell they cause where ever they go.
One more nail LL, Its just one more nail in your coffin.

Cheyenne Palisades said...

Woah up there! Just because you (or I) might be uncomfortable with child avatars doesn't mean we should mistreat them in any way. It's not a violation of the TOS to portray a child, nor, despite my sometimes discomfort, do I think it should be. Most child avatars mind their own business.

I do have to say Second Life children are frequently annoying because of overuse of gesture vocalizations. Tonight, while exploring, I muted six of them because of their canned sounds. But should I have reported them? Absolutely not. I think you should use your mute powers and leave the abuse reporting for real problems.

Paige Parx said...

I'm with the first commenter. The image sends a message: "Come to SL and build a family? Have kids?" I know that some people use SL to play house but they also use it to act out Dolcett fantasies...doesn't mean Linden should use that in their advertisements. Their add images should be rather generic in appealing to global interests.

Personally, bumping into child avatars has always creeped me out a little only because I wonder, "is that a real kid? what are they doing here..?" It's a discriminating thought but still...

Marianne McCann said...

@Paige Parx - It's not the RL kids in the child avatars, though. They're over in the virtual sex clubs and shoot-'em-ups playing adult avatars. ;-/

Anonymous said...

I'd say the ad is a parody of the mid century suburban American dream. Or if not a parody, at least, a cultural reference - subconcious or not.

I'd also say that whoever saw bewbs on that child avatar was looking really intently for them.

Some have already pointed out that it's the mesh's fault the chest can't be made flat, so I'll leave it at that.

Cheyenne Palisades said...

I would say the four preceeding comments were posted by the same anonymous person, as they arrived almost simultaneously, but I have okayed them.

I would say the fact that well more than half the child avatars I see are sexualized with makeup, jewelry, breasts, and/or provocative clothing and past and ongoing sexual role play has most to do with the reputation of child avatars. Yes, there are limitations in the avatar mesh, but lots of child avies move those sliders right up.

Several friends who are children have told me they were re-experiencing their childhoods. Perhaps I generalized a bit, but being "fee" because you're a child just smells like bullshit to me.

Jojo said...

Little girl avis? Given the number of men playing women in SL, and the average maturity of same, maybe the Lindens have found the perfect "role" for them!

As for the server/connectivity issues, all I can say is the user base of the average MMORPG would take up RL arms if they were down as often and as long as SL.

Anonymous said...

I honestly feel the exact opposite way. To me, the adult avi's are the creepy ones. After all, its the adult avies who created and maintain (and UTILIZE) the adult/sex districts within SL. Not the child avi's. And to me, it's pretty creepy for two strangers to meet up in a virtual world and screw each other just for the sake of fake sex. I'd rather hang out with the child avi's, thank you very much. After all, they are mainly going to school in SL and trying to live in SL what would be a normal life for a kid in RL. As opposed to some of these creepy adult sims who maintain a strictly shallow life within SL, and that probably reflects the nastines of their own lives and personalities in RL. So go ahead, throw your stones, it's funny.

Anonymous said...

And as for child avi's having breasts, thats because Linden Labs refuses to give us shapes/meshes that are flat chested. All the female shapes and what not have breasts (HAHA, its like flat chested women dont exist in SL!)

Cheyenne Palisades said...

For every legitimate child avi I see I see one that is deliberately sexualized: Makeup, provocative AOs, and breast sliders definitely not at zero. Those are the child avatars that creep me out.

You needn't be a kid to be nonsexual in Second Life. And while yes, some people see SL as a sexual playground, for most people here sex is a part of this world just as it's a part of our first lives. I found my real life partner here and we jumped on a few poseballs on our way to our relationship.

Yes, Linden Labs should fix the sliders so children don't have small breasts they don't want.