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Hamlet Au posted today about avatar size, featuring a post from Doreen Garrigus’s blog “Original Detail”. Here’s the thing in a nutshell: avatars in Second Life are naturally a little tall. The default shapes are tall, 50% on the slider is quite tall … but why (Doreen asks) do people stay that size once they eventually realize how unrealistic it is?

Well, I was a little puzzled about this, since I had measured myself before and *thought* I was about 5’7″ in Second Life, about to scale with my First Life self. But just to be sure, I logged in and measured myself. To do this, I took off my shoes (5″ heels ought not to count in height measurement!), turned off my animation overrider so I would stand up straight (my grandmother would approve), and created a phantom prim exactly as tall as I was: I stood in the middle of it to be sure I was getting it right. I used Google to convert the meters to feet so that I could understand it, since we Americans aren’t too clever with those fancy metric measurements everyone else uses.

Kate’s estimate of her height: five foot seven
Actual height according to the stretch-a-prim method: six foot three

Six foot three?? I was an Amazon! I immediately checked my sliders and took my height down from 57 to 47, which I thought would at least get me under six feet. It also made me look a little less skinny, which I approved of (lately I’ve been looking a little stretched to myself).

Me at my new, shorter height. My swingset was already huge, but now I feel like a 5-year-old on it! Still, I’ll keep this height for a while and see how it goes. πŸ™‚

But when I measured, I still wasn’t under six feet! I tried again, shrinking to 40, which brought me to 5.99 feet as I calculated it. This was strange! 17 points shorter, but only 3 inches lost? Of course, that’s not 17 *percent* shorter, since if that were true, setting the slider to 0 would make you disappear. But…am I doing something wrong? Mismeasuring? And for that matter, did sizes change at some point? I’m really sure I was once 5’7″! But then, maybe I increased my height since then when it got too inconvenient.

Because it is inconvenient to be short. Doreen asks why people don’t change their height to something more realistic once they find out how tall they are, but this lack of change doesn’t surprise me at all. First of all, how often do we measure our height in Second Life? Not very often. But let’s say we all suddenly knew our Second Life heights. Would we prefer to have more realistic ones? Well, not necessarily. After all, there’s very little payoff, unless it’s important to you to be realistic with your avatar (it isn’t so much to me – note the wings!).

But let’s say that you knew you were weirdly tall and you really did want to be more realistic: then would you shrink? Well, maybe not: after all, your friends are probably all weirdly tall too, and your clothes are designed for weirdly tall people, and animations, and … well, it just doesn’t sound very appealing. Worse yet, your shape changes. You don’t just scale down everything: you get shorter without getting proportionately thinner. For me, this was an advantage: I’ve been wanting to gain a little virtual weight without looking lumpy. For most people, I think it would be very unappealing indeed.

So, are we doomed to a world ruled by giants? For a while, I think we are. What might change that is if at a certain point, we start “importing” structures and things from First Life. If a handy tool were to come into existence to, for instance, take multiple pictures of First Life structures or objects and recreate them in Second Life to scale, then we’d start looking kind of huge in those builds, and if those kinds of imported things became very popular, we’d have very good reason to shrink.

Then again, some people–men especially–might prefer the added “authority” that height gives…and other people might keep their avatars large to stay in proportion to those height afficianados. Maybe we should just allow gigantic avatars so everyone can get it out of their system. What do you say? Greece, according to myth, was once ruled by a race of Titans, but everyone there is pretty much normal-sized now. Couldn’t it happen in Second Life, too?

^^^\ Kate /^^^