Monday, November 24, 2008

That's Me

That's me.  I'm the little one.
No, I'm not a child avatar.  I'm not a tiny or a fairy or any kind of furry.  I'm five feet two inches tall, fine boned and angular, with big hands and feet and long arms and legs---just like I am in Real Life.  As a matter of fact, I look a whole lot like I do in Real Life, measurement for measurement.  

But in Real Life, I just don't look that small.  

In Real Life, I'm a little shorter than average, and quite a bit smaller boned.  I'm leggy and lanky.  I can't wear petite sizes because my inseam is too long.  Women's gloves are too short in the fingers for me most of the time.  But here I am, in a crowd of avatars, looking positively Lilliputian.  

I can guess how it happens that most newbies are big.  The default avatars are very tall, and if you set the sliders to fifty (seems like average, right?) a female avatar is six feet even and a male avatar is six foot four.  It's like the guy who set the scale for prims and the guy who made the avatar mesh and sliders weren't talking to each other, and the whole thing came together a little off kilter. 

Combine that starting point with a tendency to value height as a symbol of power or confidence, and you get seven foot women and eight foot men.  Since there is no yardstick to counteract it, people just don't know, as newbies, how tall they are.  I understand how it happens.  

But why, after you've been in world for a while and you know how tall you are, do you choose to remain that big?  Why does it stick?  Why is nearly every avatar in the whole second world almost twice my height?  

I want input.  I want feedback.  Are you bigger or smaller than the willowy masses?  What influenced your decision?  How did you decide to be the height that you are? 


  1. I agree with this, I've voted on the Jira post about adding a height meter in Second Life appearance window.

    Personally my avatar stands at 5"4, but I wear shoes that make me up to 5"9. I am seriously sick of being accused of being a child avatar. My shape has curves, it has an angular face, it has cleavage!
    People in Second Life really don't have any idea about proportion and should really look in the mirror and compare.

  2. Hi, when I first logged in I also went to some trouble to get my AV a realistic height (5'2"). I have ended up having to add 10% to 'fit in' but refuse to go any higher!

    Compounded by the fact that I make pose-containing items in SL and was getting complaints that no-one (with height-maxed AVs) fitted on them properly.

    I like my RL height and my SL height just fine. And I like to make nice low doorways in my virtual home just to annoy over-tall people ;-)

  3. Oh, while I remember, there is a SL feature request for the sort of thing mentioned here at:

  4. My avi tends to be taller than average, my height slider is at 60 and it seems most of the people I encounter are either my height or shorter. I don't actually care about the metrics or the technical measurements of my avi, what matters the most is that I'm the same relative height as I am in RL. In RL, I'm quite happy to be either as tall or taller than the average woman, and whatever my slider had to be to achieve that I did it.

    I feel confident and authoritative being tall, but I think anyone does who's set themselves at the height they're most comfortable with.

  5. I run a group called life size in SL for avatars who choose to be more realistically sized. I remember when I first discovered a height measuring prim and was shocked to find out that I was nearly 8 feet tall!

    I think most people end up keeping their avatars tall because it seems to be the norm in SL. I think there's also a fear that you'll be treated like a child avatar... I know I've actually been kicked out of clubs for being a child.. even after I've explained that my height has nothing to do with being a child. (I was even once asked to change my avatar or be banned!)

    One of the other reasons I think its so difficult to be shorter is that below a certain height you have to be careful how you proportion yourself, or you end up with pointy shoulders, and body parts that stick out in ways that normally would require immediate medical attention! I know I've had a lot of people tell me they just don't bother, because they started to look odd when the sized down... :(

  6. Without shoes, my av comes out at 5'4" on most height detectors. That said, it should be noted most such scripts operate based on the height of your av's boundary box, which ends at about eye height, rather than the top of your head.

    The more accurate way of checking one's height is up against actual prims, which *do* operate along a standard of measurement. This inevitably puts my av up to about 6', depending on which shoes i happen to be wearing... but I agree, the shorter you go, the more difficult it is to make an av and keep proper proportion. When I am legitimately 5'4", i am pretty much dwarfed by anyone who walks by, even if they are 'average'.

    Sadly, until LL actually implements a real height indicator in appearance mode, I doubt the majority of users will care about this.

  7. Hello Doreen,
    I like your first blog entry. I suppose you ask me as a shape designer. For me the number that this "check your avatar height" spits out is irrelevant. How much 1 m is in SL is really arbitrary and all buildings are built much taller than in RL anyway. The relation of my avatar height to most other avatars is more important and now I am standing at 80. When I find myself in the company of people with smaller stature I just change the height temporarily, it's no big deal.

  8. When I first designed my avatar I chose to base my height on my RL height and shape, which is pretty small and petit. I just thought that it would make more sense to view the world from that short PoV that I'm used to. Little did I know what I was in for!

    Turns out the world is full of giants. Towering, hulking giants. With bling and big hair. I was tempted to increase my height a couple of times - partially because the relative height may count more then what the numeric standards say, and mostly because in many cases cloths that used prims simply dont match, accessories almost always need to be resized prim by prim, etc... but in the end, I realized that being short actually makes you kind of unique and less as part of the crowd - and I was never much of a follower anyway.

    So I sticked with it. There were barely no ageplayers at the time when I joined and they didn't become a phenomena until years after, so no one thought that I was trying to be a kid or anything like that.

    My shape is also quite obviously post-puberty and may be confused with a teenager at worse. But the fact I'm a catgirl also helps - people accept short catgirls much better then short women in general. :P

    Unfortunately, there appears to be a growing phenomena where people are beginning to use automated scripts that blindly ban people based on their avatar height to keep ageplayers out. I got hit by some of these a couple of times already and had to IM the owner to tell them that I'm an adult and just where they can stick that script along with the prim it came in.

    So all in all, its pretty hard to be short in SecondLife, especially today. But I'm going to stick with it - because being short is who I am, what i'd like to be, and i'll have it in no other way.

  9. My SL Avatar height is about maxed. When I first started in world a lot of the avatars were already pretty tall and without any realistic way to see how tall you are, like realistic doors, trees, etc when you are walking around new it was hard to judge any type of height.

    Long after being on line and finding a height measuring device I decided to keep my Avatars tall stature. Partly because of herd mentality, partly because of who/what my avatar is in world.

    Being a dominant on the fringes of the BDSM community doesn't impress anyone when you are smaller than everyone else around you and SL is locked on the visual representation of your avatar and your words.

    Look around the world, and you will see what I mean. If you have been on line for any length of time, your avatar has decent clothes where the seems match and that isn't being worn bye 50 other people around you, you have a pretty decent pair of shoes/boots and hair a nice skin and shape, etc.

    If you have a male avatar, you have most likely spent all kinds of lindens on getting genitals, even if they are rarely used, because it is a body part that "completes" your avatar.

    Am I 7' whatever in the real world, nope, but then my avatar doesn't "look" that tall in Second Life either.

    And yes, I think if LL/SL changed the sliders to representative numbers instead of a point scale, I think more avatars in world would start out with a decent/realistic height.

    Something else to consider as well is that many builds "have" to be big to accommodate camera angles.

    We aren't restricted to mouselook and when you walk into a place, no matter how small or big your avatar is, if you cant see around you, then the place "feels" small even if your avatar only 5.3.

    So when you are using a smaller avatar, some places just look and feel huge and you seem dwarfed in them.

    Nothing in world is real, or for that matter, very realistic.

    So while some people may enjoy having or using realistic sized avatars, the vast majority of people in world will be overly "tall" in number, but not in relativity to those around them and the "world" inside of Second Life.

  10. Thanks for telling me about your blog! I enjoyed the post about size in Second Life.

    Like most people, when I started, I had no means of seeing how tall I was, and as my avatar grew in experience and I spent the time to 'sculpt' his face to my liking, I found him getting taller and taller until I finally settled on what seemed normal.

    When I built my house, I based it on my height. Then one day I got the idea to build a size scale (for a good laugh, check it out on my URL) and I was shocked to discover I was gargantuan! Standing at nearly 8 feet tall, I wondered where my avatar had gotten hold of SL virtual steroids!

    My next step was to try to remake my avatar in a 'normal' size. But what is normal? It's all relative. I made a shrunken version of my avatar at just a little taller than my RL height of 5'9", and found myself dwarfed by the world around me... my own house had become reminiscent of the giant's house in the old story 'Jack and the Beanstalk'! If I sat in my favorite chair, my legs dangled!

    Like inflation for avatars - as my scale's ad puts it - avatars in SL have grown out of control. So we are faced with a dilemma... do we fight back and live our Second Life at a normal human height, or do we conform to the warped reality around us and allow ourselves to acquiesce to the peer pressure? As a shop owner in SL, anything I build has to meet the needs of my clientele. But as a player, I like my fantasy as realistic as possible. But after all is said and done, it is a fantasy world, so who am I to judge other people's preferences?

    Why, or how, did this happen, anyway? Well, all the theories I've heard are good ones. Lack of a proper scale in the beginning, peer pressure, difficulty scaling down an avatar, in-world convenience, off-scale buildings to accommodate cameras...

    Or... perhaps there's something more sinister... something in the virtual ether causing this... some sort of disease that must be cured!

    What dark force must be lurking below the virtual firmament, waiting to claim its next victim? And more importantly, why...?

  11. "It's like the guy who set the scale for prims and the guy who made the avatar mesh and sliders weren't talking to each other, and the whole thing came together a little off kilter."

    I agree with this. I actually don't think the prim scale numbers mean much at this point, since so many avatars and buildings are "larger than life." This isn't RL -- the decision to have something *this* long represent *this* many meters is entirely arbitrary. If few people are treating a virtual meter as an actual meter, well, it's not exactly representing a meter anymore, is it?

    Which isn't to say I like this situation. Something in appearance mode that gives your height in meters may be helpful (though I suspect that most people will remain on the tall side).

    As for myself, I'm a bit under 6' (not that I think that number means anything, really) in my current shape. One one hand, I want to be proportionate, which usually means going smaller -- unless I want to make my head bigger, which is not going to happen 'cause it's a pain. On the other hand, I don't want to be significantly shorter than everyone else.

  12. I'm one of the short avatars as well. When I came to SL, I tried to make the avatar look like RL me; but although I'm tall in RL, I ended up being short in SL. This is sometimes suprisingly problematic - for example, I specifically had to shop for small shoes. :)

    All three reasons that result in tall avatars have been mentioned. One, "average" height slider means taller than average avatar. Two, llGetAgentSize LSL function which was used in a lot of freebie height detectors, and which doesn't return true avatar height.

    And third and maybe most important, psychological factor. In Western civilization tall is percieved as good (just like fat = rich = good in Africa and East).

    The third factor is the most important, and because of the third factor, I'm afraid that majority of avatars in SL will always be tall, just as majority of avatars will be sexy.

    But I do think that a lot can be done by raising awareness about true height of SL avatars. A lot of people simply don't know how tall they really are. I for one tend to drop a freebie height detector on most tall avatars I meet whenever possible. :)

  13. In Second Life I have an avatar that is 5'4" (prim height, no shoes) with a small frame. She has realistic adult proportions and her general shape is very much based off of my first life self, yet people accuse me of having a child avatar simply due to the fact that I come up to their waist level.

    It's quite an aggravating problem, especially when I am minding my own business and people insist on starting something; this is how it happens in every single case. The people who accuse me of being a child are, of course, poorly proportioned giants.

    Most people want to have a sexy human look for their avatar, but at the same time, most people do not have any understanding of human proportions. This leads to some rather bad results. You have eight foot tall avatars with legs twice the length of their upper body, T-Rex arms and pin sized heads. I can't help but wonder if most of them have ever seen another human being before. It further annoys me when they, looking like that, assume they have a right to tell me anything about my shape.

    Furthermore, many of these people are convinced they are right and will continue to ignore things like logic and facts. They stick to their stance, even if height detectors are brought out. Other equally unreasonable giants will often join in and gang up on the realistic avatar who was minding their own business. It's really not a good situation, yet it happens to many people all of the time. How did it come to be like this?

    "It's like the guy who set the scale for prims and the guy who made the avatar mesh and sliders weren't talking to each other, and the whole thing came together a little off kilter."

    The thing is, the numbers do not represent anything, people just assume they do. The avatar mesh is actually quite capable of making a rather well proportioned human form, all things considered.

    A large part of the problem is that there is no height indicator or any other form of measurement in the appearance editing window. The sliders do not represent any actual unit of measurement but are instead an abstract scale from 0 to 100. Even the height slider alone is a poor indicator since many other sliders come into play for determining an avatar's height. To put it simply, what the slider numbers say is irrelavant.

    Then you have the fact that most height detectors use the agent height, which only measure's the avatar's bounding box, not the avatar itself. Unfortunately, this is the widely adopted standard, even though it is wrong. Prim height detectors are the only accurate method, yet due to them not being widely spread around the grid, especially in popular areas, they are for the most part, unknown.

    Even when people do find out their actual height, most are so used to their current shape that they do not want to take the effort to resize themselves or anything else to be set at a realistic scale.

    I believe the largest problem lies in the fact that people in general do not measure anything in the first place, be it avatar heights or builds.

    Some of the below is a cut and paste from my guide, but it saves me having to type it here again.

    Most content creators will create an item, piece of prim clothing or animation based on the size of their avatar, they eye it and do guess work for something they feel looks "right". The end result is an item, piece of clothing or an animation that is suitable for their avatar and their avatar alone. Sure, there will be other avatars of similar size and shape, but it will not be ideal for most people. With the so many content creators out there doing exactly this, the grid is in a ridiculus mess. Especially considering that the avatar the item was based on was made by somebody with zero knowledge of human proportions and often did not even take the time to measure themselves.

    Due to this complete disregard, avatars, furniture, animations and everything else comes in a very wide variety of mostly large sizes. This wouldn't be quite as much of an issue if everyone and everything were scaled up by the same percent, but this is not the case.

    There is a unit of measurement for a reason, it should be used. If people stuck to a proper standard, many issues would near vanish. Animations would line up properly, there would be less hassle when fitting prim clothing, furniture wouldn't look like it was made for a colossus and the Grid as a whole would be a more visually pleasing place.

    The more well known content creators are perhaps the most guilty in further spreading the problem. The average person knows how to resize their shape, but not much or anything about resizing an item, so they often scale themselves around it. Then there's all those incredibly tall freebie shapes people base their first avatars off of.

    A first life meter IS equal to a Second Life meter, this is a fact. Why do the shape sliders greatly favor a realistic height range for realistic proportions? Why is there a unit of measurement included if it wasn't meant to be used, and if a RL meter isn't equal to a SL meter, why on Earth would it make sense to toss in multipliers to determine the equivalent of a SL meter? People who say a RL meter isn't equal to a SL meter seriously need to think about it.

    This problem is fixable, but people need to do their part, especially those who have a large influence on the new user experience.

    There is a work in progress kit/guide here which you may be interested in:

    While not yet complete, it can still serve as a useful resource.

  14. Oh, what a great topic. Doreen, nice work bringing together a good discussion!

    I purposefully made my avatar 5'8" or so because I wanted it to be realistic. I've been aware of this height thing for a long time, walking around in a world of giants. My current avatar wears hover-boots that keep me floating a foot or two off the ground, which at least keeps my eyes level with theirs.

    Most of my theories on why we live in a world of giants have already been mentioned, but there's one I haven't seen yet. The camera in SL is floating above and behind our avatars, biasing our perceptions. In RL, we're used to a point of view right at eye-level, so we might make our avatars taller to make them feel more in line with our point of view. I think the camera's position (and how it behaves) is also responsible for the fact that most buildings in SL are huge. The tall ceilings might, in turn, be partly responsible for the giantism, as we feel the urge to make our avatars bigger to match the buildings they're in.

  15. "A first life meter IS equal to a Second Life meter, this is a fact."

    I disagree. A first life meter represents a real, physical thing. A meter long RL board is as long it is, period. A meter long SL board, though, is ultimately just a bunch of pixels on a flat screen. It's a picture. And like in any other picture, scale comes from context and the surrounding objects. There's a still life painting in my dining room, featuring some fruit on a table. Were you (generic you) to look at this, how would you know the size of the table? Well, first by knowing roughly how big most tables are, but also by looking at the objects around it. You can look at the strawberries and the bananas and deduce an approximate size for the table. Similarly, you gather the size of an SL object in part by seeing the scale of its surroundings. The official measurements are one scale, but they're not the only one that's used. When few people treat an official virtual meter as a meter, it stops fully functioning as one.

    Which is not to say it wouldn't be a good thing if more people paid more attention to the official measurements (though sizes would still be a bit wonky due to the camera). Arbitrary doesn't mean useless.

  16. Yes, it is pixels, does that matter? Those pixels are suppose to represent something, are they not? If the scale says one meter, then it is one meter. I do fully understand what you are saying with the fruit on a table painting, I did the first time somebody brought the topic up. However, in a painting, you are working with a canvas, there is no established unit of measurement and more often than not, there are no others assisting you on that painting. You can paint what you want without any limits and it will exist in its own stand alone world. Every single aspect is fully up to you as there will never be anything otherwise. If you set a scale for objects in the painting, then it is the scale, no questions asked. You can say the table is 15 meters tall but as long as everything else matches up, nobody will care or notice because it is a noninteractive picture.

    In Second Life, you still have a canvas of sorts, but are interacting with many other people in a world that has its own unit of measurement and defined limits, such as maximum prim and shape sizes. A table with fruit may look fine on its own, until people come up to it and see the table at shoulder level for one person, hip for the next and below the knee caps for the third.

    "Similarly, you gather the size of an SL object in part by seeing the scale of its surroundings. "

    Yes, surroundings which are composed of objects that are usually of inconsistent scale to each other. Just look at the screenshot for this blog post, each person is at a different scale.

    When everyone is using their own different inconsistent scale for everything, there is simply no proper unit of measurement aside from each person's own poorly implemented method, which is usually based off of a poorly proportioned avatar. Whatever the "equivalent" of a meter is (it is not a meter or anything at all really) for such an individual's personal scale may not match up to a real life meter if they could be compared, no, but it doesn't change that it is still not a Second Life meter.

    You can go building giant chairs or tables in the real world and call those whatever size you want to call them, but it won't be recognized as a meter to anyone but yourself. It is much the same for your average builder in SL simply due to them not knowing any better or caring. Which is unfortunate.

  17. Hey Doreen,

    Thanks for the link to your blog post and a topic that interests me very much from both a personal and business perspective.

    The root problem is that there aren't any objective height markers in the Edit Appearance interface, which is the most logical place for them. Once people have worked out a reasonable shape, they can only check height with a script, and even then the Avatar Height detector scale doesn't match the prim measurements scale.

    When some people base their height on guessing, others on the avatar height script and yet others on prim measurements, there's going to be a wide variance in the results. So LL pretty much set us up for mass confusion.

    I think this situation is fairly typical of a programming approach. Programmers, who are overwhelmingly male and linear in their thinking, don't really value social interaction as much as other more technical capabilities, like buildiing and scripting. So not only is avatar height given little consideration, we also have awkward animation interfaces and coarse avatar mesh and a paucity of layering options to include tattoos and makeup. Improving avatar customization is given much less priority than eye candy like Windlight or sculpties.

    I'd love to see a wholesale overhaul of avatar construction, but that kind of project doesn't appear to be anywhere on the horizon.

    -- Beebo Brink

  18. From what I've read, on average Main Grid avatars are much taller than Teen Grid avatars. I see plenty of people around 5'6 on the TG, and they're not overly short. It's rare to see someone over 6'10 here. I remember being mortified when I realized as a newbie that my shape was over 7 feet tall!

    I think that designers often make the problem worse, building their attachments and designs around taller, curvier avatars. My avatar is about 5'11 and not very curvy at all, and I constantly have issues with getting belts to fit properly. Furniture is also an issue, being built for avatars within a size range, be it adult or child. If you think about it, even the smallest setting on the Height slider is only around 4 feet tall, if I remember correctly. There was a study done that said that people actually gain confidence if they have a taller avatar versus a smaller one. Perhaps most people lack self-confidence? Have you tried to talk to people and ask them why they choose such tall avatars? That could be an interesting case study.

    Best of luck,
    ~ a.q

  19. My avatar is 5'7, taller than my RL height. Almost anywhere I go, I am the shortest one there. I'm accused of playing a teen av most of the time. But I LOVE the way my avatar looks. On the rare occasions I have made her taller or wider, it looks completely wrong for her. Sure, when I TP into a place, I'm usually at butt level with some enormous woman. And yes, I have to adjust every poseball and every prim skirt. But because I'm absolutely happy with how my avatar looks, I do it. I can't imagine forcing my avatar to be 7 feet tall just to match everyone else. It's so wonderful to see there are people in SL who DO like more realistic heights!!

  20. I started out being tall in SL -- 6'3" I think. With heels that pushes me anywhere to 6'5" to 6'8" depending on the heels. And then I was trying out the idea of a curvier plus sized avatar and realized I needed to be shorter to get the proportions right. So I scaled down to 5'8" (my real life height) and scaled down my thin shape as well. At the time I was going to switch between the two and didn't want to mess with having two heights.

    But one thing I realized is I like the thinner shape, it's easier to find clothes that fit and boots and quite frankly I enjoy that aspect of Second Life. And I've stayed 5'8" but I'm thinking of increasing my height back up around 6'1" or 6'2".

    Oddly enough, even though I'm taller for a woman in RL I don't consider myself to be that tall , mostly because I'm the short one in my family. So I've always wanted to be taller.

    I understand wanting to base your SL appearance around your RL looks, but I think there's a strong backlash against those players who don't. I'm not talking about people who have fantasy looks, but those who have human avatars but want to look different from that of real life. Including the height.

    It does suck that shorter players are being accused of child avatars and the implication that being a child avatar is bad.

    But if if I want my av to be 7' with long legs and an hour glass figure (and by this I mean a well proportioned shape_, why is that considered less than wanting to be realistic?

  21. Regardless of what size I would LIKE to be or feel is realistic, I stay a size that is average to SL (read: taller than RL) because it's practical: most poses and animations are created using default/ruth size avatars in programs like poser or whatever, and choosing to be much taller or smaller than that will mean that many products in SL don't work ideally for you.

  22. Where can I get a prim height detector? The one I found in world said to right click to take a copy, but the settings were wrong, and I could not get a copy. Please someone let me know where to find out, or drop a copy on me in world if you have one. Thanks! I only have the other kind, which is based on the av's boundary box. Those are available free all over SL. I think we need to get the prim height detector version out there and more available as well.

    I have my height slighter set on 50 (which is apparently over 6 ft tall), and I am still petite compared to everyone else I see. And I have trouble fitting prim hair and prim skirts without a lot of editing.

    I made the rest of me proportional to the 50 slider height. Very little body fat or breasts. I look more like a teenager or young woman compared to the other women I see in SL.

    And to change height is not just a matter of changing the height slider number. Everything is proportional, and therefore your arm and leg lengths, hand size, head size and shape all must be adapted to a new height.

    So I tend to think of SL as relative. At 50, I am smaller than most adults, which is what I want. I still fit on most pose balls and furniture ok, and I don't feel like a midget in gigantic buildings. That said, I would still like to see some sort of scale made available that said, for example: if you are 5ft 4in tall in RL, select size "x" for your height, to be proportional between RL and SL. That would be useful to have.

    And maybe some classes (Hello? NCI?!) that make use of that principle to help people edit their avatar shapes to that head, face, arms, legs, etc are proportional to that height. A class in just editing head/face along would be wonderful!

    Princess Ivory

  23. I can't tell if the comment I just left was eaten by the sign-in process or just under moderation. If this is a repeat, delete it. :)

    I choose to be of average Second Life height most of the time, which definitely makes me taller than I would be in Real Life. The reason I do this is a practical one - most amimations, poses, clothing and more are all created in third party applications using a default second life avatar. Choosing an avatar height that is significantly taller or smaller than the default setting will cause many products to work in a less than ideal fashion, and I'm a function over form kind of girl.

    That being said, I build scale replicas of RL buildings in SL all the time for my full time job, and it can be a bit frustrating to find a balance between realism and the bigger than life proportions of SL. I usually find that a 2:1 ratio works best, not only for accommodating avatars, but for making sure there is enough headspace to navigate a camera comfortably.

  24. I would love to be able to "own land". Then, I could have a sign that says "You must be no taller than this to play with me."

    I am 5'2" in RL, and I fashioned my SL self to be as much like me as can be. This means that most furniture is to big for me ... I look like Edith Ann sitting in that giant rocking chair.

    I, too, have been threatened with banning because I was told that I looked like a little girl ... but I have breasts and a pretty waist and a nice bottom unlike any little girl I have ever seen. In fact, I used to wear a pony tail (like in RL) until I was told that it made me look waay younger than my RL/SL 24 years old.

    Oh, but to find a whole lot of places where the SL world matches us Normal Sized avatars ...

    Power to the Normal. Down with the Heightists.

  25. This is an interesting discussion from not only a personal viewpoint but also a professional one.

    When I made my avatar I based her on my RL height of 5'10" and made her proportional to that. She has been tweaked over the years, not in height, but in other measurements such as leg musculature (to fit boots), head size (to fit prim hair), hand size (to fit rings) and so on. I have a folder of shapes now marked with the particular dimension(s) so I can easily wear items. However, even at this relatively tall height I am small in SL terms - and I enjoy being small. However, I frequently find prim attachments are too big (and far too frequently made without the parameters set so they can be scaled down).

    In my SL business of jewellery making I have found that building for the "average" is almost impossible - what IS the SL average? Is it "Ruth"? I'm not sure it is.
    As a jeweller the important limit isn't how big I need to build - things scale up relatively easily (and I use resize scripts to make this easy for people) but how small does it need to go, the absolute hard limit being the 0.01 prim measurement. If I build using prims reporting 0.01m size in any one length (even one such prim in the entire linked object), then that item will never go any smaller. So, I build on a small avatar (my own) with the hope then that *most* people will only need to scale up, not down. And so far so good, if customer feedback (or lack of) is anything to go by. It's not perfect though, and I'd love to hear from anyone with a better idea for how to set the smallest size.

    However, for items like prims skirts or belts the attachment could so easily be made scalable by making the smallest dimension of any prim greater than 0.01. Even making it 0.02 doubles the scalability without making a huge different to the aesthetics. And if you need the prim smaller than that? Well, that's where prim torturing comes in, but it's possible believe me.

  26. Very good subject. I will suport this issue in the JIRA.
    I'm 1.68 m. in RL and 1.70 in SL.
    It is a drag that most doorknobs are at eye level rather then hand level in SL, and when dancing, my feet seem to be way off the floor, the good part is is that then my face rests between my partners breasts :-)

  27. When I began playing SL, I literally avoided people for an entire year, so I had no scale whatsoever to judge if I was tall or short - I was around 75 on the slider.

    These days I'm at around 55, but disregarding height I find my *weight* is an issue in world. I like my shape as it's not stick thin, but I rarely if ever buy prim skirts because it's a pain in the butt to get them fitted. I'm told my head is also quite big (I'm pretty sure they mean the slider size... :P)

  28. It isn't that everyone in SL is a giant, it's that a meter isn't really a meter in SL. It's about two thirds of a meter. Maybe we should call it a Lindenmeter? How about this, a lindenmeter is equal to .66 meters? The way the software viewer works, building a room with a ceiling lower than 5 lindenmeters makes navigation difficult. But where in RL do you see bedrooms or living rooms with standard 15 foot ceilings? So my advice would be, if you want a short avatar, go for shorter than average, but don't confuse lindenmeters with real meters.

  29. I'm a chameleon in SL, so my appearance has a lot of potential to change in between 'sightings'. That said, I have a shape that I use the most, and it's pretty tall. I've used a height detector, out of curiosity, but it is not what I was thinking about when I made the shape. I was thinking about the average heights in SL (regardless of their "actual" numbers). And the fact is, height has a certain impact. Tall avatars have the inherent potential to command more respect and be given more control. Short avatars, on the other hand, have the potential to be treated with condescension and parental attitudes. I have an alt that is intentionally short - her purpose is to be cute and un-intimidating. But my main I want to be assertive. The message I want to send is that I am not going to take anyone's BS, that I am in control of my life and my space, and I won't have a problem telling you to f*** off if I feel that you are behaving in a manner unworthy of my presence.

    For me, it makes more sense to adapt to the language of the environment, than to try to force the environment to adapt to me.

  30. I started this post over @ Hamlet's blog, but it really belongs here...

    The importance of CyFishy's point (@Hamlet's blog) about the default camera position influencing hir choice of avatar-size cannot be overstated, nor can the point others have made about how a person's comfort in an SL-building is hugely impacted by how much or how little room there is to move one's viewcam around in the space.

    I think these two concerns underlie all the others (self-confidence, herd-mentaility, 'incompetence,' etc.), and, combined with the generally patchworked, surreal, "Bebop Reality" (thx, Hamlet) nature of the SL-environment at large, push users towards avs that just *feel* the right size, *in their own viewers,* regardless of any arbitrary numbers or conventional measurements, and highlight the basic fact that SL IS NOT BUILT FOR HUMAN BODIES. IT'S BUILT FOR **AVATARS**!!

    Avatars really only serve two basic functions (leaving out bots, of course): Carrying out a user's actions inworld, and transmitting a user's personality (or persona) into the world. In serving those functions, our avs can take on an astonishingly diverse array of shapes, sizes, and symbol-systems, and NONE of these things are driven by anything but USER DESIRE (i.e., no Evolution or gravity producing fittest body-plan or optimum size, no God making Divine Decisions, very little restriction code- or TOS-wise from LL, even).

    Rigidly imposing our physically-based aesthetics & value-judgments -- which derive largely from very real demands of the flesh, and our existence in a universe we had no hand in creating -- onto our virtual bodies (and the spaces we inhabit with them) will *always, always, always* end up feeling limited and just a bit klunky, regardless of our Windlight, Shadowdraft, or hell, Crysis Engine (Ohh, we can dream, can't we? XD) settings.

    I recognize that my feelings on this don't place me amongst the majority of users, but I really do find myself puzzling over the notion that, in general, people "should" be striving for ever-higher degrees of "realism" in SL. I mean I understand why so many are naturally inclined to go that route, but does it really provide the superior experience? Always? Verisimilitude -- while temporarily dazzling from an artistic standpoint, and useful, I'm sure, for prototyping RL engineering or architectural projects -- just doesn't seem like all that lofty a goal in a virtual environment, especially if it comes at the cost of the personal choices & creative expressions of identity that are are so varied, and so fundamental to the FUN of the user experience in-world.

    I get that it can be a bit odd to walk into a room where none of the people there seem built to the same scale, and being discriminated against is an outrage no matter what (honestly, tho, if it wasn't fears over "ageplay," it'd be "ARC." Some people are just assholes like that)... But honestly, the challenge of that cognitive-dissonance is one of the things I love BEST about SL. From my first moments inworld back in mid-2006 (under my first account) the most striking & compelling features of SL for me have always been the things that punctuate how *different* it is from 'RL,' and how utterly freeing those differences can be. I always loved hanging out in the welcome areas, and more general-audience type clubs (i.e. non-specific RP), because of the likelihood that Boba Fett, some furries, a whole gaggle of OC/MTV/Beer-Commercial types, and a ton of creatures I'd never imagine in a thousand years would all be hanging out & having a good time together. Made for some truly bizarre & delightful snapshots, if nothing else.

    All those mismatches & collisions of styles, scales & signifiers (and yes, degrees of skill) simply reinforce for me that it's a million separate dreamers & our million separate dreams combining & conversing in ways unprecedented in human history. I'm proud to be a part of this beautiful, utterly chaotic mess XD

    We've all already *got* real lives, which we lead every day out there in the physical world (and we'll just leave aside the trollish contentions to the contrary, tyvm) we really need our virtual environments (or our virtual selves) to be carbon-copies of that? If so, why come into SL at all?

  31. Hi Doreen,

    Like Truthseeker, I found you through Hamlet's posting. To be honest Truthseeker has said most of what I have to say far more eloquently than I would have, but there might still be some value in adding my two cents to the discussion.

    I fully support those who choose to be shorter for whatever reasons they have. I think they should be able to do so without persecution. However there seems to be what probably amounts to a vocal minority among the real size crowd that aren't content with "this is what I choose" and instead move to "this is what you should do whether you feel as I do or not". I have a problem with this. If you become a reality cop, you become no better than the bullies that give you grief for the size that you choose.

    I'm not 8 feet tall in real life. I also can't fly, teleport, grow cybernetic parts or turn into a dragon. I have no interest in giving up any of these things for a more realistic experience. If anyone wants to give you grief for choosing a more realistic height, this big guy has got your back, but please don't try to impose your views on me by telling me how my avatar must be. Thanks.

  32. Fascinating conversation you've started here. It would be interesting to "curve" SL height and see how the variety of heights in the virtural world compares to that in RL.
    Instead of comparing SL height to RL height, find out whether there are as many relatively short people, and what the ratio of tall to short is. Is there a bias towards being tall? I suspect so. But how powerful is it?

    Another interesting comparison would be the race and gender biases. Do people select a skin color closer to the RL norm? If there is a gender bias, do people act that out by selecting an AV gender accordingly?

  33. For the record, one of the building tools one used to find in the inventory library at least until I was rezzed (May 2007) was a building tape measure, which clearly indicates the correct average height (in centimeters) of an avatar, a door, a ground floor and a second floor of a house.

    Good SL builders keep these references at hand when they are building and do not care about people laughing at them (as happened to me in Help Island) when you tell them that builds and avatars should be made up to exact specifications.

    There is a simple proportional formula to convert your RL height to SL height, taken into account that the average height of an avatar is 210 cm (7'), much taller than a real person's average height of 170 cm or 5'8", AND you must first convert feet and inches into centimeters and then use it. The formula is as follows:

    your height : x = 170:210

    The result is obtained by multiplying your height by 210 and dividing it by 170.

    Converting from feet and inches to centimeters is quite easy. Remember than one foot is 30 cm and 1 inch is 2.5 cm. Multiply the relevant values in feet or inches by 30 or 2.5 and you get the centimeter value, then add the two. I will use Doreen's height as an example:

    5 feet x 30 = 150 cm
    2 inches x 2.5 = 5 cm
    150 + 5 = 155 cm

    Doreen's height is 155 cm, therefore:

    155 x 210 = 32550 : 170 = 191.

    In SL, Doreen should be 191 cm tall, i.e. 6'4". She will always look smaller than I (I am of average height in both RL and SL, 5'8" or 170 cm and 7" or 210 cm respectively) but more proportionate and definitely not a midget.

    You can easily get an accurate height detector from me, Sandor Balczo, for free inworld. When rezzed on land that allows placement of objects, this tool will allow you to know your current height in the metric and US system by simply touching it, and you can play with your appearance sliders to get the height you should have after using the formula I mentioned.

  34. Imagine my surprise when I started reading SL message boards after being in-world for a couple of months and finding out that some people took this height issue so seriously and actually wasted time (and karmic points) trashing and putting-down avatars that they consider over-sized. What an odd thing to get worked-up about in a world where the appearance of an avatar can be so fluid and changeable - which is one of the main attractions of Second Life for me.

    I spent the first few weeks in SL just trying-on different looks and avatars of all sizes and shapes. I'm a short dude in real life so I enjoyed being able to walk around at the same relative height as everybody else in this new world, and that 80-90% height on the sliders has pretty much become my default. One of my first avatars was a short dude closer to my own real 5'9" but I quickly realized how shrimpy that was the very first time somebody invited me to sit and chat with them on a bench in a mall. I was surprised that the pose ended up being a cuddle-type-thing and was even more surprised that my avatar looked like a little kid sitting in the other avatar's lap!

    I'm highly uncomfortable with that kind of thing because I was abused as a kid, so I don't want to engage in any kind of game-play that even has a whiff of under-age inappropriateness - that's not exactly how I want to spend my leisure time online. So I've stuck with the more standard giant-size avatar ever since.

  35. Wow. Amazing discussion.

    The fluidity of SL is what I like about it. And I *love* that "SL norm to RL norm" conversion calculator...can anyone make a script that does that in world?

    I have dear friends who are maxed out on the height slider and friends who are minimal on the height slider, and it's really not very relevant to me. I keep a variety of height avatars in my inventory so I can, if I chose, meet people eye to eye (or poseball to poseball) as needed. Height is far less important to me than, oh, say, watching my hand go through someone's chest becaue I'm too short. Then again, I design shapes in SL, and the first thing I do on most guys is narrow their shoulders and thicken their waists...

    My "default" avatar is 6 foot 8 by prim standards. And is very average for women.

    Jenrose Meredith

  36. My default avatar is about 5’4” tall (or as close as I can get her). I made a decision when I joined Second Life that I would work when building to real-world measurements, and I have never heard a compelling enough reason why my avatar should have to undergo a size conversion simply in order to be ‘in line’ with whatever people think is a ‘reasonable’ height. I’ll stick to world units, thanks.


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