Second Life’s “Secret Sauce” – Part 2

A few days ago, blogger Daniel Voyager posted an important notice from Rodvik Linden’s (LL CEO) profile. It said that Linden Lab is working on system changes to restore last names as part of each avatar’s name. Big Yay! And for me, this is further proof that CEO Rodvik gets Second Life. It’s also proof there are people who work for LL who don’t get it (meaning those who thought it made sense to get rid of last names). And this leads me directly into the next and most important ingredient in Second Life’s “secret sauce.”

The first thing a person does when they come to SL is select their name. They also select a basic avatar including sex. And while Residents quickly learn that their avatar can be changed substantially, that first step they is a defining moment for most of us. Yes, I acknowledge that there are some people who come to SL who just don’t care about the name or avatar they select. But this article is about SL’s “secret sauce” and I believe avatar names are part of that recipe.

I’m going to use myself as an example to make my point. When I chose my avatar name I basically didn’t have a gaming or chatroom background. However, I was concerned that I’d be stuck with the name I choose, so I wanted something I wouldn’t regret. I didn’t want to get trapped in a stereotype and I wated something kinda cute and something kinda different. At the time, I thought I invented a new name, “Yordie”, and I was pleased with my great accomplishment (/me giggles).

Then, when I found the last name “Sands” available, the two names clicked. I liked how they looked and sounded together. So in April of  2007, I created a name and selected a skinny girl avatar in an dreary violet colored top and even more dreary jeans. And I became Yordie Sands.

Summer 2007, only a couple months into my second life, I identified with my avatar.

Over time I improved Yordie’s appearance. And she got to know my way around the grid, enjoy the life and the music. She found friends and even fouund romance. Sound familiar?

More and more, I came to identify with my avatar. I came to like her. I came to care about her, even her reputation. I went on amazing adventures and even more amazing misadventures.

What happened next wasn’t obvious to me at the time, but I began to feel as though I was my avatar. And my avatar was different than I am in real life. So you could say I became a different person, with a different sense of identity. Even now I find that surprising to admit.

And by the way, I have many friends who feel, to greater or lesser degrees, a connection with their avatars also.

It seems obvious to me that our SL identity starts with our name, then each choice we make for her or him begins to create our identity. We make choices for our shape and skin and hair and eyes. We chose the kind of people we want as friends. And we fill in our character with all the places we explore and all the experiences we create. I believe it’s the most important of all the ingredients in the “secret sauce” — our identity.

Ingredient #2: The Second Life secret sauce begins with a good base made with the Identity of each avatar.

I know some will scoff at my notion that our avatars become a new identity, but I know it’s true for many. I believe the secret sauce is created more by the people who create a second life identity and live their fantasies. And here’s one last secret: many people who are living their second life fantasy don’t realize it (more on this in the future).

On the other hand, I have plenty of friends who create their avatar and have no sense of identification with it. Instead, they see the avatar almost as a barrier to seeing the “real” you (more on this in the future also). Others just want to build or script or write stories about those of us who do have second identities. Yes, there are exceptions but I believe Second Life is created by peeps with second identities and second lives.

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About Yordie

I'm an avatar in Second Life where I star as the heroine of a virtual fantasy life. In the real world, I'm writing my debut sci-fi novel.
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6 Responses to Second Life’s “Secret Sauce” – Part 2

  1. Mera says:

    Great post! I agree. For most ppl the name is very important. I regretted my first name but compensated that with a new avie and a display name instead. But i sort of think display names are confusing. Not all ppl sees both names so at parties it can be a mess sometimes with ppl seeing different names. I dont see both but maybee thats the only way to be less confused 🙂

    Seeing forward to part 3
    /Mera

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  2. Yordie Sands says:

    yeah, Mera… Display names can be so misused and unless you want to keep both names turned on, if someone completely changes their name you can see someone you really like and not recognize them because of the name.

    Display names are great for _married_ couples tho. I think that’s great. And for peeps with names in all caps and names that are numbered, yeah.

    But how many people do you know who abandone their original avatar? A big reason peeps don’t is inventory, but also it’s their name and identity. Jus sayin’

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  3. Becky says:

    I think you’ve nailed it! The nature of identity in SL is something I’ve been daydreaming about for years, and this is one of the clearest views I’ve read on the subject. This particular passage really spoke to me:

    “More and more, I came to identify with my avatar. I came to like her. I came to care about her, even her reputation.”

    I’ve gone through precisely the same experience! In fact, the feelings I have for me in SL are closer to “self-esteem” than any other feeling I can describe. And, as the years go by, it’s like I’ve lived through another adolescence here. At first, I was uninterested in the consquences of my choices, feeling as invincible as a teenager, and now am growing into an adult with new responsibilities and a new perspective on the what my choices reveal about myself, to myself, and to others.

    “What happened next wasn’t obvious to me at the time, but I began to feel as though I was my avatar. And my avatar was different than I am in real life. So you could say I became a different person, with a different sense of identity. Even now I find that surprising to admit.”

    This, is very interesting, and communicates a transcendence that is almost impossible to attain in First Life (without experiencing Dissociative identity disorder) The desire to embody another self is more common than I think we’re ready to admit.

    Food for thought. Thank you.

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  4. Yordie Sands says:

    Hi Becky…. You are so right about the second adolescence! That’s something many people express in a lot of different ways, but it’s like high school all over again. And yeah girl, you said, “I was uninterested in the consquences of my choices…” And I totally identify with that too — Oh my, those choices I made. hehe

    And yes, “The desire to embody another self is more common than I think we’re ready to admit.” I couldn’t agree more. A lot of people try to hide just how strongly they feel about their 2nd identify, but in the course of getting to know someone you learn just how deeply they care. I do believe there’s a certain type of person that simply will not or cannot make this “transcendence” you talk about. But you and me and a whole lot of other people, it is real.

    And it’s why i hope the Lab will realize that this, this speical identity, this second identity, is maybe the most important ingredient in the “secret sauce”. i’ll be writing about the other ingredients, but the people who feel this 2nd identity are committed and we spend money too. I was surprised I didn’t see others taking up this “secret sauce” topic after Rodvik make the remark. Glad you like it. Hugs girlfriend… see you inworld.

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  5. Pam says:

    This story sure gave me a feeling for the avatar life and identification with the creation.

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  6. Pingback: Second Life’s “Secret Sauce” – Part 3 « Being Yordie Sands

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