Archive for August, 2008

Do they all dress like that?

August 4, 2008

One of the critiques from a business perspective of Second Life is the way avatars look in-world, especially the female avatars.  My family and I attended one of the local arts festivals yesterday to enjoy music and some outdoor time.  We were greeted to miles of skin and cleavage and didn’t give it a second glance.  Well, maybe one or two second glances here and there (some t-shirts have funny slogans after all).  The thing is, that was to be expected.  Go to an outdoor event, see skin.  Technically there was not any indecent exposure (technically…) so who is going to complain.  Of course, move that into a corporate meeting and then where are you.  Can you imagine sitting around a table and looking at a woman in a tube top, a dude with a cut off sleeves t shirt, and another woman with a neckline that plunges far enough to see her pierced navel?  Focus, people, Focus!  We’re trying to figure out the best way to launch a new product…

Now, move that meeting to second life.  The avatar controllers are sitting at their desks, hidden from view and frankly could be wearing anything, who really cares.  But their avatar appears in full battle gear, or dressed as a wolf, or in a string bikini, or a business suit with bare feet.  Does that change the tone of the discussion?  Some would argue no, but I say yes.  If Second Life is a visual medium, isn’t part of the point to see a character?  In seeing that character, doesn’t your mind form an opinion on how the conversation will proceed?  Okay, I like examples so here we go.  Let’s say you are in a meeting with these two people. 

  

Granted, both are wearing ties so perhaps my theory goes out the window.  Which would you take more seriously?  Which one do you think would recommend a great place for coffee versus a connection for things that are legal in Amsterdam?  Want to know something?  It’s the same person  Okay, let’s try this one.

You’re saying, hey, man, that’s pretty tame.  I’ve seen much worse in Second Life.  Of course you have, but this is a family oriented site or something like that.  I also did not want to go cruising out there to find who knows what just to make a point.  Now, the person behind the avatar on the left in this picture is bright, intelligent, forward thinking, etc.  The one on the right may be as well.  Yet, when a few coworkers who do not use Second Life saw the photo on the right, their response was, what’s with the hot girl and her cleavage?  So where am I going with this rambling?  If business users of Second Life (meaning using SL as another avanue for branding, marketing, training, etc.) want non users to “see the light” and join us all in world, we may be taken more seriously by covering up during meetings and other public appearances.  After all, you can always pull the “oops, my pants fell off” during a meeting in world just to see if people are paying attention once you have them there.