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?