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I don’t use voice, but I do envy voice users one thing: the ability to express some emotions properly! I suspect people who have used text chat rooms a lot in the past have already seen a lot of this, but every day I’m in world I find myself struggling to find good ways to express myself.

For instance, if I find something funny, I have a pretty limited range of things I can do:

Kate Amdahl laughs.
Kate Amdahl laughs delightedly.
Kate Amdahl laughs with some other adverb tacked onto it.
Kate Amdahl laughs at something.
Kate Amdahl giggles (and therefore makes herself sound trivial)
Kate Amdahl snorts (which is expressive, but sounds a little coarse)
Kate Amdahl chuckles (which sounds like I’m holding back)

I can’t bring myself to chortle, snicker (I tried it once and didn’t like it), whoop, titter, or guffaw, although for some people, I bet those would work fine.

I don’t use “LOL”, or especially “ROFL” or “LMAO”, or extra-especially “ROFLMAO” (because how is that even physically possible?), although those are fine too. I just don’t like to type abbreviations when talking with someone, which I guess is silly, but to me it feels more like I’m having a conversation that way.

What I’d really like is the ability for some finely-controlled facial gestures. I really like being able to smile whenever I like, and have a key set up for it (which occasionally even works!), even though I’m never sure if anyone’s looking when I smile. But most of the gestures are too broad for me. Even the smaller version of the laugh gesture is a lot like some kind of seizure. The same with the surprised face and the crying gesture and others. It’s wonderful that they exist, but I’m not surprised that hardly anyone ever uses them. They’re kind of melodramatic, which in a world where many things can be fairly subtle (with some exceptions, such as physical male arousal, since once the thing is brought out, it kind of draws attention to itself even if it’s sleeping) prevents them from being really, really useful.

No, mostly I stand there with my face not moving, with the very faint smile that’s built into my avatar. The kind of expressions I’d like, like raising an eyebrow or wrinkling my nose or quirking one corner of my mouth, are I guess kind of technically challenging, and I should be grateful (and am!) that we can be as expressive as we are. And it’s true that if I had all the expressions I wanted, probably most of them would be missed! Still, I would delight in something like that.

I had a brief moment of excitement when I realized I could use a laugh sound file with different laughs, but when I picture that I find it doesn’t work: it’s hard to tell who the sound is coming from, and some people don’t even have sound turned on.

I think basically I want Second Life to have the range of emotional expression we have in real life: posture and how we hold our hands and expressions and sounds and…well, I’ll check back in ten years and see if the technology is a little closer.

^^^\ Kate /^^^