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jedbeetle

Looking for stories about identity, stereotypes, etc in an online environment! Please help :)

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Warm greetings, Second Life citizens! 

I am a graduate student in education, and I've played my fair share of online games and in online universes (Mostly Lambda MOO and City of Heroes, a while back, to be honest).

In taking apart my own identity and others' experience of it, I had some interesting things to reflect regarding my online experiences, especially role-playing as identities different from my own (as a black character, as a gay character, as a female character, as a black gay female alien...you get the idea)

I've decided to do a presentation based on my own experience and the experience of others in online environments. I'm looking for stories and screenshots from anyone willing to share their own experience of identy (race, religion, gender, sexuality), transformation, celebration, prejudice, oppression, what have you. Second Life seems like it could be a place rife with this sort of experience!

I've only logged into the world a couple times, and it seemed interesting, but I was honestly a little lost. I just started rolling a character again, and I couldn't help but notice that the only appreciably black avatars were in the vampire category. No judgment! It's just an observation, and I wonder if it hasn't been a topic of conversation already.

So, anyways, do please share any stories you might have, or links to relevant fan fiction or articles or blogs that might address these issues! I'm going to thumb through some of what's out there, but I'm sure there are people who have a much better bead on the content than I do.

Also, if you prefer to e-mail me, I'm at jedbeetle@gmail.com. 

If you prefer to remain anonymous to any degree (no screenname mention or whatever), I will totally respect that when sharing your story, of course.

 

Thanks for your time! Hope to hear from any number of you soon.

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jedbeetle wrote:

 

I've only logged into the world a couple times, and it seemed interesting, but I was honestly a little lost. I just started rolling a character again, and I couldn't help but notice that the only appreciably black avatars were in the vampire category. No judgment! It's just an observation, and I wonder if it hasn't been a topic of conversation already.

 

No, why should it be? _ALL_ starteravatars look absolutly horrible and are in no way important for any future experiance. They are just the tool to do your first log-in and then get somewhere to customize and change it completely. Nobody except very new people use them at all. You are basically supposed to get rid of them as soon as you can, so it doesn't matter at all what ethnic apperance is available or not.

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Anything I would tell you about my own experiences would be purely subjective. I would suggest carefully creating several different avatars that represent the variables you want to study, and then seeing if, setting them in similar environments, they get different reactions from other avatars.

There are enough freebie avatars, parts, and accessories for you to assembly almost anything. It will take time and money, though, to master the "appearance as art" some achieve.

Some thoughts: You may find some prejudice attached to the fact that your avatar is "new" so you might want to invent a cover story to explain what happened to your old avatar./Before interviewing another avatar you might want to check to make sure they aren't a cultural anthropologist./Some people cringe when they hear Second Life referred to as a 'game' where you 'roll up' a new character./Try not to go native.

Good luck!

 

 

 

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haha, Yeah they were pretty bad. I just found it interesting, as a outside observer thinking about this stuff, how different races were represented in each category.

I did assume that people dropped these avatars pretty quick.

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Well, subjective is perfectly OK with me! I will try and delve in a little bit myself, but I assume that regular users have much more experience and reflection than I could possibly accumulate in a week!

 

 

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Well ... one time, I was a cup of Starbucks skinny black and white mocha with half pumps.  Yet everybody treated me like I was a cup of coffee.  It was so embarrassing.

 

I'm not sure what kind of stories you are wanting.  Racial color in SL is a fashion choice.  Men seem to like darker tones so than can look tough and brooding or something.  The extremes are seldom seen because very light and very dark tones lose shading and become flat.  So many men play women avatars it has become a joke so gender stereotypes are illogical.  Sure, people are people and anyone with baggage in RL will bring it in with them but so far (for me at least) those people have been a small minority.  The biggest reaction you will find is between people who live in SL and those newbies that day trip for research.

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Rhonda Huntress wrote:

Well ... one time, I was a cup of Starbucks skinny black and white mocha with half pumps.  Yet everybody treated me like I was a cup of coffee.  It was so embarrassing.

The biggest reaction you will find is between people who live in SL and those newbies that day trip for research.

Hah!

Yeah, I totally expected the latter to be true, which is why I haven't gone logging in trying to ask people about identity. I have found some intersting stories asking around forums and such, though.

I'm really interested in identity positive stories and people who were enabled or transformed by playing online games in various ways - like a guy in WoW who didn't receive much parenting irl and was basically raised by his clan. Multiple people who leveraged an MMO to present alternate genders/sexualities when doing that in their community would not have been accepted, and going on to embrace their identity more fully, stuff like that.

I think I didn't phrase my question very well here. In the end, I think we're well aware of the negative things games and virtual environments might bring out, but there isn't as much accounting for all the good that comes out of them. And little stories like the ones I mentioned happen far more often than they are brought to light.

I know some of my own identity development and exploration occured online, especially in Lambda MOO and City of Heroes, which is what caused me to go looking for these stories in the first place.

I figure Second Life would be RIFE with people body jumping, and riffing on various identities, human and otherwise.

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jedbeetle wrote:

I think I didn't phrase my question very well here. In the end, I think we're well aware of the negative things games and virtual environments might bring out, but there isn't as much accounting for all the good that comes out of them. 


If you take a look in the forums, you'll find evidence to the contrary. Of course there are stories about the bad, people tend to talk more about the bad things in life, regardless of what it involves, or where. However there is a TON of good too, even some threads from relatively recently will come up in a search, or browse through the forums.

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jedbeetle wrote:

I think I didn't phrase my question very well here. In the end, I think we're well aware of the negative things games and virtual environments might bring out, but there isn't as much accounting for all the good that comes out of them. And little stories like the ones I mentioned happen far more often than they are brought to light.

 

Ah.  Now I grok in fullness.   My little story is just that I use SL to keep in touch with someone..  I'm sure we all have a story but the really touching ones are harder to come by.  Forums are just a tiny fraction of the population and those who take the time to post are fewer still.  Good luck in your search. 

And I seriously do have a Starbucks cup avatar ;)

 

If you ever get a chance to go in world ... and I have debating mentioning this for two days now ... look up groups concerning autism.  And you damn well better not go in there treating them like something to be studied with a problem that needs to be fixed.  They are people who find written communication easier.  

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