Racial diversity

Oh. My. God! I’m contemplating updating the six-month-old “current events” on the secondlife.wikia.com (which takes a bit of searching to locate the actual source page, and which I’m not even sure I can do as a regular user), so I Googled on CSI:NY second life. Near the top of the results was this page: CSI: NY Second Life, which has choosing an avatar as the first step of registration.

The first thing that caught my eye? The clothes are way cooler than what LL starts us off with.

But the important thing to note is that they have honest-to-God African American and Asian avatars. (If I wasn’t white, perhaps this would have been the first thing I noticed instead of the clothes!) In general, the avatars look like they are supplied with better skins than the LL library options.

To reminisce a bit about race and Second Life (and me, mostly), when I first joined, almost a year ago now, I picked the boy next door. I knew just enough to know that I would be changing his appearance, and I was using an old laptop and the graphic quality was, shall we say, marginal. I didn’t pay much attention to the stock avatar options. So when I saw blog posts about how all the stock avatars are white, I thought, uh-uh, there are those urban and Asian dudes. But then I really looked at them. Sigh. It’s only because I’m white that I would ever have breezed past them thinking they adequately reflect racial diversity.

Two people of color (of each gender) to four whites (no furries, nekos, anime, or other non-humans in the CSI signup) still seems limiting, but in looking at wikipedia’s page on Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, I see that it’s not that far off the proportion of the U.S. population. But if I was black or Asian and wanted an avatar that reflected my RL race, “take it or leave it” wouldn’t seem like much of a choice when picking an avatar.

A suggestion to whoever does this next: Have more options. It’s great to have picking an avatar as the first step. It really creates a sense of identity, especially when they are well done avatars that you could actually use for a while. But if someone is going to use one of your avatars for a while, they certainly don’t want to keep running into themselves. And it seems like common decency that if you give people an option of selecting among races, that you give them actual choices. I’m sure six options are nice and tidy for the average browser window, but people are used to scrolling if it’s something that interests them.

On language in SL and RL

I came across an interesting new (to me) blog, with a fascinating post, Avatar’s Mother Tongue, that also has a good comment thread. The premise?

As you probably concluded from all the missing articles and strange constructions of sentences, English is not my mother tongue. At least, it is not a mother tongue of human me.

Photo shoot

In order to complete my host profile for Radio Riel, I did a photo shoot of myself the other day. Here are a few of the results, all taken in Ormsby Hall on Little West Sniggery island in Caledon Murdann.

This is the image I chose for the Radio Riel profile (click for larger version):

I think this one is rather romantic and melancholy at the same time (click for larger version):

Another new me

I decided I wanted a better skin than the “Hot n Hairy” one I bought early on, and I also wanted prim hair that worked well with the skin. So after trying lots of demos, I decided on “Dusky hairy” by Max (available only in brown) and two hair styles from Naughty Designs. In this photo I’m wearing “Gabriel’s Hair” in sable.

Close runners-up were “Tawny hairy” and “Tawny red” by Max (if they had a hairy redhead, I’d have gone for it); “Dante” tan and light from Naughty Designs (fewer choices in facial hair and lack of chest hair did them in, although having a crew-cut option was very attractive); and CMFF’s “Hairy Male” and “Hairy Male 2” (which are nice photorealistic skins, but they have no options except a well-done built-in crew-cut). The Naughty Designs hair options were plentiful and well-done, so I pretty much confined my looking to them. Even so, I needed to tweak my head shape a bit (come to find out the shape was doing more than the size to give me a bad fit with this hair).

All in all, I’m happy with the L$4,600 I spent. I may even go back and buy a premade shape from by Max. Although I’m pretty happy with my shape, it’s a bit tall. I’ll live in it with this skin and hair for a while before I try anything else, though.

Dragon dance

There was a dance in Limbo tonight (every other Friday night at 7 SL time), and it was lots of fun. I tried dancing as a Spirit Dragon for a while, but it’s awfully big and disorienting. I also tried playing an elven drum for a while. But here I am dancing with an artsy shot up at flying/dancing dragons.

Live from the Wyrm hatching

I’ve been on Cathedral for a couple of hours already, waiting for the midnight (Linden time!) hatching of Daryth Kennedy’s Wyrms. I still can’t decide between the Spirit and Royal Wyrms!

By all accounts the noon hatching was a chaotic nightmare–the sim was burdened and LL was having some problems as well, as I hear. Daryth & co. had a backup plan, which entailed buying a red box, but some people seem not to have heard (or paid attention) to the instruction to buy it. Sometime after Daryth said “Go” the sim crashed. There was a big crowd in Limbo for quite a while until things began to get sorted out.

So now I’m sitting here, along with about forty others. Here’s some of the crowd (many “away”):

And here’s the Grand HedgeWyrm herself, Daryth Kennedy (in one of her many guises so far tonight):