Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Another Month in Review

Even though I take a lot of notes, it seems that I never get over here to write up my ideas. So, I apologie for the length of this post and the scattered nature of it.

My SL has been (literally) exhausting. In trying to balance three personaes (the real me, the educational me in SL and the "working" avatar in SL), I have become overwhelmed. Thus, I have decided to take a few days off for the sake of sanity.

I will try to go in once a day to spend time with a few educators and my special friend. But, I know how to contact all of them out of world, so I may do that, as well, so I don't get sucked into playing too long.

The thing about SL is that is really really is a second life. A full one, no less. So, now that I have multiple properties (an office, a group home, a retreat cottage, and a private residence), I feel like I must go in every day and maintain each property. Also, since I have worked very hard at my SL job, I am now quite popular there and feel compelled to work extra shifts, etc. And, really, the real life of me has limited time to do that.

I have had to sit back and really take in a perspectives POV. SL is addicting, and it is difficult to sort out the ethics of one avatar from the real me. In RL, I am very detail oriented. I am an over-achiever. I have high standards. In SL, I tend to be the same way. But, I can't live both of these lives at that level - it is exhausting. And, since my RL job is the one that pays the bills, I am going to have to limit my playing of SL.

I hae gathered a lot of great information about communication styles, but, sadly, I don't know that I will be able to use much beyond my observation. Since I can not verufy the genders behind the avatar, I can't actually extract any good data. I have noticed some trends in my SL workplace - gossip, competition, outlandish talk to be "above" and "beyond" the next person. I will blog about these later, but even I fall into some of these patterns, and that surprises me. IRL, I am not competitive, and I do not gossip. I also am a bit conservative in terms of what I will discuss in the open. In SL, Iespecially at my "job," I feel that my avatar is very worried about being number one, she hates the new girls that compete against her, and she gets drawn into gossip. The RL me would never stand for such behaviour.

In Sl, my avatar is obsessed with her looks. Again, this is not true of me IRL. I am comfortable with my looks IRL, and I don't get all gussied up. My avatar, though, must look perfect all the time. And I feel that I spend too much time creating her perfect looks.

In SL, my avatar has not been able to be close to anyone. This is much like me IRL. While she has many friends, she can not be close. And, that is just like how I am IRL. There are only 2 people she is personally close with in SL, and one was someone I brought in from RL to play the game. The other is private, and he knows who he is.

I like my bosses very much. I think that the owner has a great vision, and his RL and SL girl (same person) wants him to be successful. They are very busy, though, and I feel bad about contacting them inworld.

So, my SL is a challenge. My most rewarding time is spent working on educational material. Neo, this awesome designer, built these incredible personal laptops for my students. I can't wait to use them!!!!

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Sadness of SL

In my previous post, I wrote about the break up with my inworld partner. I wrote it when I was a bit angry, but I want to post now a little more about my thoughts on inworld relationships.

The truth is, Desi really cared about, and loved, her inworld husband. She found him to be warm and funny and kind and gentle. While, at first, he was a good ally to have, he became much more than that to her. But, she couldn't be what he needed her to be, and that made her feel bad. Even worse, it made her creator feel terrible.

In saying she didn't expect or need this kind of relationship, she didn't mean this as a slam against him. She was speaking of her own heart. She hadn't expected to get so immersed in the emotions of this game, as she is not generally this way in RL. She enjoyed his inoworld company very much, and she misses his company now. He was there when all the world was foreign to her. He was her comfort; he was her best friend. Desi will always love him, and she wishes, even now, to just sit and talk to him.

The abruptnesss of SL divorces is daunting. It happens so quickly, and there is no time to talk or create a resolution. She would have liked to sit down with him to talk about his feelings. But, there is a line that becomes fuzzy between Desi and Beth, and she isn't sure she can differentiate the lines.

So, SL romance is a bad idea.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Week in the Life of Desi

When I am inworld, I take a lot of RL notes. I look at all sorts of things, and, most of them are things that I am not qualified to assess. The psychology behind SL is amazing, and players seem to view the game quite differently. In the past two weeks, I have found this to be too true.

My avatar has a job inworld, and she is very responsible when it comes to her job. She is also very concerned about the feelings of others and helping the "under dogs" (or, as they say in SL, the "Noobs"). She, too, is a noob, but learns fairly quickly.

A few weeks ago, she found a noobie guy wandering in the snow outside of her cabin, and they became fast friends. She helped him get skin and shape, and he knew how to move her furniture around. So, she wanted him to be her partner (inworld) for a number of reasons. First, he could move objects in the cottage. Second, she felt she would be safer with a partner listed. Third, she thought he was really friendly and fun and was a nice diversion when she wasn't inworld working her RL or SL jobs.


She should have known better.

See, behind the avatar is a real person that Desi (and Beth) don't know. Desi and Beth see the game as a game, and, even though Desi has made some great friends at work (one security girl is so funny that Desi has to tell Beth to grab the tissues because she laughs so hard she cries). But, Desi and Beth have a good grip on reality and don't fuse the two worlds. They were silly to think that everyone plays the game the same way.

Her partner was upset that she couldn't spend more time with him. Well, in reality, Desi has all the time in the world, but her creator has a FT job, a FT family, etc., etc. While everyone agrees that RL should come first, sometimes people are really hurt if they are neglected. The time change, alone, created a problem (he was from the UK). But, other than that, the whole emotional connection is something she didn't expect or, quite frankly, need.

So, they parted. And, sadly, both Desi and Beth were affected. It is amazing how much this game isn't a game in this regard. Beth felt bad because she clearly didn't articulate her plans carefully enough to the former partner. She never wanted an inworld romantic involvement; she simply wanted a friend for entertainment and protection. She didn't pay close enough attention because he wanted more that that, and she could never give that. Beth felt bad about that because she thinks she hurt the person behind the avatar.

In SL, Desi has an active life. In addition to her job, she also had the awesome opportunity to host a discussion at Verum's Place about Body Image. The discussion was well attended, and it was an awesome experience overall. The weekly meeting will focus on different topics, and someone suggested another section be held for UK players. Desi and Beth hope that someone will step forward to take over that commitment. The discussion group was exactly why she wanted to get into SL. The opportunity to have discussions about topic is liberating, and to have the perspectives of so many diverse people is incredible. Desi and Beth look forward to the weekly series! This is her motivation to play SL, and, as such, is more important than the other tasks.

At her job, Desi is doing very well. She has made some friends, and she has learned to like the music. Certainly, Beth would never be caught dead in a job like this and she would not enjoy it in RL. But, the avatar she created wants this job because it allows her to view gender discourse from the heart of the SL world. Desi and Beth are very ethical about their work and try to set a good example for fellow workers. They are also committed to only saying nice things to and about others.

In the past few weeks, Desi has learned that real people operate avatars. And, while it is easy for her creator to maintain a distinction between AV and human, it isn't so easy for others. In her case, neither she nor Beth wants to hurt anyone, and so she has decided to avoid all partnerships.

She has also decided that the psychology of the game is something she isn't qualified to monitor or assess. In the SIMS, when she created everyone, Beth had ultimate control of the feelings and well being of others. In SL, she does not. And thus, she must be careful.

As far as gender discourse goes, Desi and Beth have learned a great deal. Desi is designed as a SL Barbie Doll taking the measurements and "clothes" of the Barbie Beth played with as a child. Her hope is to be a "Barbie with a Brain" since she cannot separate Desi's brains from Beth's brain. Desi has popped into events that are conservative (book clubs, political rallies) wearing "Barbie Clothing." She was ignored, IMed, etc. as being "lost." The question that came to Beth's mind was this: if this avatar is the duplication of the doll most American girls played with in the 70s and 80s and these are the clothes she could wear, is it any wonder that there are image problems with American women?