Courtney Redrose’s Big Adventure
Before I began the course Media Studies, I had little exposure to virtual online worlds such as Second Life. After learning about Second Life in class, various research and creating an avatar online and exploring the virtual world, I am amazed at everything it has to offer. Second Life is not only a type of internet game, it is a space where there are no limits to your creativity and expression. Strong communities are created and are even supported by the avatars’ own financial system, the Linden economy. Second Life is a place where you can meet and interact with millions of people around the world, who you otherwise would most likely have never met. Anyone who has access to an internet connection can create a Second Life account free of charge. A basic account allows you to create an online persona called an “avatar.” With your avatar, you have complete access to the Second Life world. I have learned that the majoritit of people who engage in second life on a casual basis typically only use the basic account. However, more serious players can upgrade to a premium membership, which includes extended access to better technical support and other benefits not available to basic members. For example, a stipend of L$300/week is deposited into premium members accounts, raising the value of membership from US$72 to US$14.
Second Life’s potential market is enormous based on the fact that the majority of people living in developed countries have access to an internet connection. The accessibility of potential customers paired with a free basic account results in a large market that will only continue to grow. The existing basic free membership is a great way to attract potential customers, who, after experiencing Second Life make the decision to upgrade to a premium account. When creating an avatar, the options are endless. The avatar can accurately resemble your appearance in real life, represent only certain features of your real life appearance or be completely different at the discretion of the host. Avatars can take the form of human, animal, mineral, vegetable or a combination. Also, even after you create your avatar, you are able to continuously change and alter this representation. Overall, I believe people who are more confident in their appearance in real life tend to create an avatar that resembles them. On the contrary, people who do not like certain aspects of their appearance are more apt to create an avatar that does not closely resemble their appearance. I spoke with an avatar named Sabrina1 Halsey who commented that, “you make your avatar something that you’re familiar with, but also something that you fantasize about.” In Second Life, people have the control of what other avatars can see and also what they cannot see. When I began creating my avatar, I did not want to use my real life first name. I thought it would be safer to use a different name by not having any ties with my real name. Courtney is actually the name of my best friend, who I was going to meet with right after I created my account. When I chose Courtney as the first name for my avatar (the creator is free to choose any first name, including the spelling of the name) a list of last names was presented to me to choose from. The fact that you have to choose your avatar’s last name from a list hinders your creativity slightly, but is obviously for safety and repetition purposes. My avatar does not look like me in real life, besides the fact that she is female. I thought Courtney’s dark hair and dark skin looked beautiful and was also a nice change from my blonde hair and light skin. I believe the majority of people with avatars find the same freedom in creating a representation that is different from one’s appearance in real life. Robert Kolker further explains this concept in his book titled “Media: An Introduction” when he states, “Creating an avatar is also an act of...
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