December 16, 2008
I am going to an imaginary Christmas party tonight.
Brenda Novak is having a get together on Second Life, and I will be there. For those of you with real lives, Second Life is a… a…
Hell. Frankly, I don’t know what Second Life is. It is a multi-user environment, where you are not technically playing a game so much as creating a new life, and accompanying it, a new set of problems. In real life, I sometimes get distracted and bump into walls. But trying to navigate a virtual person through a virtual environment, I am discovering a whole new world of clumsy.
The first step in joining Second Life is to create an Avatar.
Actually, the first step is breaking it to the kids.
Me: I am joining Second Life.
#1 Son: You are NOT. (Apparently, this is a bigger broaching of the uncool boundary than the time I sang Pour Some Sugar on Me along with the radio while dropping him off at school).
Me: I am too. I am going to a virtual party.
#1: With your imaginary friends.
#2 Son: Are you going to get drunk and virtually embarrass yourself? (He sounds hopeful.)
Me: No. I need to create an avatar. And a name.
(For a first name, I choose ChristineMerrill. Because strangely, although I write full time, I have no imagination.
Second Life gives you a list of last names to choose from.
Me: How does Oompa sound.
#1:Terrible. Why would anyone choose that?
#2: Other people have better names.
Me: I imagine they do.
But all the names on MY list are terrible. Yootz? Skizm? Algoma? What the hell? Algoma is a city in Wisconsin. I am not going to be Algoma.
Me: I am ChristineMerrill Oompa.
I finish completing the login screen, and my character drops onto imaginary island. Sans clothes. My sons are watching.
This is embarrassing for all of us.
#1: I think you’re kind of naked.
Me: No, here come the clothes.
#2: The computer just crashed trying to load your underwear.
Me: Well, that was fun.
Actually, it is totally unfair. My virtual ass is much smaller than my real one. And apparently, if you want a bigger ass, you have to go to a virtual store and buy one. And it may or may not cost real money, depending on how good you are at shopping.
This is even more unfair. I would think, if I wanted virtual me to get fat, all I should have to do is feed her, and leave her inactive for a while. That always works in real life.
So I settle for the first butt I get, and go looking for new clothes. I meet with limited success. There are many places you can go to get free stuff for your Avatar. If you want to look like a Goth slut or a neon-fairy-vampire.
After a couple hours of fiddling, #2 son looks over my shoulder.
#2: You’re a belly dancer?
Me: I can’t help it. I can’t figure out how to take it off.
#2 And why are you bald?
Me: I lost it. All right? I accidentally deleted my hair.
And this is why it is a bad idea to use your real name on Second Life.