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Did Recent Dr. Phil Episode Set Unreasonable Expectations for New Users?


Rogue Darkheart
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On July 14th Popular TV 'Psychologist' Dr. Phil used a Custom Avatar in Second Life, to illustrate how far Video 'Game' technology had progressed.  This event was even 'advertised' in the Featured News section of the Second Life Blog.

The segment did a decent job of highlighting some of the many (G-rated) activities that avatars could participate in.  The 'best' part of the segment was Dr. Phil himself looked... well, he looked Just Like Himself in 1st Life!

A couple of years ago, I spent about $500 US for someone to create an avatar that looked like me in 1st Life, hoping to use it to shoot Promotional Machinima, to be featured on 1st Life web properties.  The quality of the resulting avatar was dissappointing and I abandoned the idea.

So here's the Question:

Did Recent Dr. Phil Episode Featuring a Custom Avatar in Second Life set Unreasonable Expectations for New Users?

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IMO, no.

There's no way a five minute (or thirty minute, or thirty hour) serial show could cover every possible option and capability of Second Life. Especially one made to be accessible toward the daytime American audience. Small is best, simple is what sells and sticks in the mind. Anything that looks like more work than filling out a Facetwit profile or recording a blurry vlog will be junked.

It's perfectly fitting that they show the 'ultimate' of possibility. No-one wants to see old people fail to understand computer games for longer than a few minutes at a time.

The very smart people involved in creating the content did a great job in making the rendered segments meet the audiences' expectations. Enough to get a couple of laughs and (unless I'm mistaken) a couple of 'wows'. Mission accomplished: SL looks adequate, inviting, and demonstrates that the more time you spend in-world, the better the Grid can be understood.

Did it show the average five minutes in-world? Probably not (though I did notice they dared to at least green-screen an Infohub into the background - I doubt Phil's avatar stayed at one for long :D), but then why should it? The gameplay trailers for Fallout 4 (for example) don't show your character getting shot in the face on a loop because you picked Intelligence 0 Strengh 0. Promotional videos for EVE Online don't show the hours spent playing with virtual spreadsheets. It's called Marketing.

There's no reason to show people being rubbish and inept, in a promotional piece about an online service. It was clear that Second Life is "a big place", and showed one possible, highly relatable way (e.g. projected RL identity) that Second Life could be experienced with moderate skill and capability (all he really did was fly about a bit).

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Freya, your statement

"It's perfectly fitting that they show the 'ultimate' of possibliity.'

Seemed to address what I was trying to focus on, which was the Quality and 'Life-like' Appearance of Dr. Phil's Avatar.

What happens when people come in-world and expect to be able to duplicate their 1st Life appearance at a reasonable cost?  Heck, I can't even find a creator who is able and/or willing to do a completely custom avatar or even hair for that matter.

In 1st Life one of the #1 Rules for Business is:  Under-promise and Over-deliver!

I didn't see anything in your comment that convinces me 'Unreasonable Expectations for New Users' weren't set. 

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Perhaps you missed the focus of my comment? It wasn't that the expectations won't be high, but that the intrinsic capabilities of Second Life are high. Second Life can satisfy high expectations given high determination.

Playing Second Life through a facsimile of one's RL self is a perfectly valid but ultimately limiting option in-world. Given that the 'scope' of Dr. Phil's avatar was to be accurate so that the illusion of 'understanding Second Life' was conveyed to the audience, it accomplished its intent. It was - on a technical level - very well put together. Would it be 'fun' trying to hunt down a balding hairpiece in Second Life? Probably not, so this task wasn't shown.

I feel as though you're projecting your own dissatisfaction with the content within the platform (surrounding a specific one-time event) rather than the capabilities of the platform as a whole. If that's the discussion that you want to have, then fine, but I don't particularly care if there are enough options presented and purchasable on marketplace.secondlife.com - my interest is that Second Life enables people to collaborate and build their dreams from scratch. In that regard, this promotional piece on the Dr. Phil show did fine - it did show the possibility that you could accomplish exactly what you tried and failed - it didn't use impossible techniques to do it. Any Second Life user could have created and uploaded a Dr. Phil mesh avatar of that quality.

Sure it might be hard work for some, and a lot of learning for most, but that's okay. It's not going to be for everyone anyway. The people who developed the content for this piece know that as well as anyone - but the initial first step is to get "eyes" and "interest", and let the watcher decide if they want to try out our world.

P.S., sorry, lots of editing. Think I'm happy now. :P

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Rogue Braveheart wrote:

<snip>

 

Did Recent Dr. Phil Episode Featuring a Custom Avatar in Second Life set Unreasonable Expectations for New Users?

Actually, new users have reasonable expectations.

That get quickly dashed.    ;)

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Yes, the Dr Phil avatar with his incredibly long legs sets an unreasonable expectation that in SL you can create an avatar that looks like you. In the past, other shows have featured avatars that look vaguely like their real life users. Dwight in The Office had an avatar that looked like himself. Mac in CSI had a sorta similar avatar. OK it didn't look like him at all. The avatars for the 2 and a Half Men looked like the actors. 

 

It seems universal that in television shows, if a person is playing a game then their avatar looks like them. It's a tv trope that I think will always be used by the industry.

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Bree Giffen wrote:

<snip>

It seems universal that in television shows, if a person is playing a game then their avatar looks like them. It's a tv trope that I think will always be used by the industry.

/me tries to imagine Dr Phil as an SL Lesbian.

/me shakes my head

Is that a scarey thought?

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Rogue Braveheart wrote:

On July 14th Popular TV 'Psychologist' Dr. Phil used a Custom Avatar in Second Life, to illustrate how far Video 'Game' technology had progressed.  This event was even 'advertised' in the
of the Second Life Blog.

The segment did a decent job of highlighting some of the many (G-rated) activities that avatars could participate in.  The 'best' part of the segment was Dr. Phil himself looked... well, he looked Just Like Himself in 1st Life!

A couple of years ago, I spent about $500 US for someone to create an avatar that looked like me in 1st Life, hoping to use it to shoot Promotional Machinima, to be featured on 1st Life web properties.  The quality of the resulting avatar was dissappointing and I abandoned the idea.

So here's the Question:

 

Did Recent Dr. Phil Episode Featuring a Custom Avatar in Second Life set Unreasonable Expectations for New Users?

As an onlooker, you knew that avatar was supposed to be Dr. Phil, and he has a number of recognition points that are uncommon in Second Life - baldness, the moustache, gray hair, etc. Whether that avatar would have been recognized as only Dr. Phil without prior knowledge of who it represented is an open question.

When it comes to yourself or people you know well, you have a very strong image/self image of exactly what they look like. (With yourself, it's probably mirror-reversed though.) You're going to notice any tiny imperfections instantly.

You also don't say whether it was a mesh avatar or "classic" one you had made. My alt aunt has a little makeover shop where she does custom shapes but she always tells clients that it's impossible to make a classic avatar look exactly like a real person because the human face has asymmetries that the SL avatar just is not structurally capable of reproducing.

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Rogue Braveheart wrote:

Did Recent Dr. Phil Episode Featuring a Custom Avatar in Second Life set Unreasonable Expectations for New Users?

Yes, new users will probably have an expectation that their avatars will have something other than the short-term existence that those who have read LL's pronouncements about maintaining SL after the launch of SL V2 know is likely.

Alec - to remind people that SL has no future

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