Monday, March 26, 2007

The evolution of an avatar

I'm going to cheesily start off this post with a dictionary definition. Don't you hate that?

Pronunciation: 'a-v&-"tär
Function: noun
Etymology: Sanskrit avatArah descent, from avatarati he descends, from ava- away + tarati he crosses over -- more at UKASE, THROUGH
1 : the incarnation of a Hindu deity (as Vishnu)
2 a : an incarnation in human form b : an embodiment (as of a concept or philosophy) often in a person
3 : a variant phase or version of a continuing basic entity
4 : an electronic image that represents and is manipulated by a computer user (as in a computer game)

I take the definition of the avatar very literally when it comes to Second Life. As you may recall from my first post, I originally made my avatar to match as closely as I possibly could to what I look like in real life, given the obvious limitations of the sliders and built-in options and clothing. That didn't last long. After probably a week (at the most) I went on SL after drinking and smoking up, and thus little white October was born (click on any of the photos to see a larger version):

October Hush

My outfit didn't really change, because that's basically how I dress in real life, but obviously every other aspect of how I look was changed. Why white? Why a mohawk? Ummm...well, I'm quite pale in real life, but not white of course. I just thought it looked pretty and striking, and it just felt right. And the mohawk...well, I can't get away with having one in real life (I doubt it would look good) but it sure looked good on my avatar, so why not? Surprisingly, my painfully newbie (but different-looking) appearance actually garnered me quite a bit of positive attention.

Since a lot of my early days in SL were spent clubbing, my wardrobe reflected that:

October Hush

I wore a lot of vinyl and I did wear wings a lot because that was the thing to do at Club Ambience. I was really proud of that second mohawk I got at the time, but I'd never wear it now. This one is way better, and I still wear it now:

October dancing

I'm looking a bit more refined there, for sure. Obviously, I'm spending money on clothes and hair. The next big change for me was when I figured out how to make my own clothes. Clubbing also started to become less and less important to me, so my wardrobe reflected that too:

October Hush
I made the top and pants I have on here.

Veruka & October
Still a club photo, but I also made the top and pants I have on here.

I also then decided to add a couple of tattoos to my body. The one on my back is an illustration by Vaughn Bode. I didn't buy these tattoos, I made them myself:

October's tattoos

Around the same time, I also started wearing the neko parts. It was something I did with caution, because I didn't know any other nekos at the time, so I wasn't sure how others would act towards me for being a neko. As it turns out, people were fine with it, and in many cases they celebrated it (and still do). For me, being a neko is more than just an appearance; it's a manifestation of a big part of my personality. Once I felt more comfortable with it, I embraced that part of me and let others see it too. Here's one of the earliest pictures I have of me as a neko. I'm also wearing clothing I made:

October & new top

The next biggest change for me was a new addition to my tattoos...gray leopard spots! They cover half of my arms and the front and back of the upper parts of my legs. Again, I made these. Here's the earliest photo I have of me with the new spots. I think by this time, I was pretty much always neko. I believe I had also made some minor changes to the shape of my face as well:


Now, I had a bunch of hair, but I usually wore the dreadhawk most of the time. That changed once I visited Kin Hair. I own...I think 5, maybe 6 of her hairstyles. They're so cute, I can't resist them. So then I started wearing those a lot. I haven't quite ditched the dreadhawk though. Here's a photo of Kriss Lehmann and I. I have on Kin hair and am also wearing a top I made:

Kriss & October

The next changes were big ones. With the help of Kriss, I revised my face even more to help get rid of a couple of "issues" I was having with it. She had proposed something more radical which looked a lot different, but I didn't want to change so much. I came up with a compromise which still looks like me but with a few important changes that really help my face look better. Unfortunately, I don't think I have a photo that illustrates this particularly well, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Now we are at the present time. For the first time, I adopted a new skin to wear in addition to my standard white one. It's a spotted neko skin from Hybrid. I'm wearing "natural-gothic" in this photo. No other changes have been made...just the skin:


As most people know, changing skins can have a huge impact on your appearance. In my case, it actually makes me look younger. It's also a very different look than the white skin. I didn't think I would like it as much as I do, but it's grown on me. I actually wear it a lot, and I get frequent compliments on it. Nope, I haven't ditched the white skin, but the new Hybrid skin is certainly a welcome addition to the evolution of my avatar. Who knows what the future will bring?


Alex Burgess said...

Wow - that is really nicely laid out. It makes me think about the changes I've been through appearance-wise, and also how those changes reflect other changes in the way I interact with the environment: the different things I find interesting, the focus of my time, the places I spend most of my time, who I'm with... okay, not all that deep, but thanks for the kick to my consciousness.

October Hush said...

Thanks, Alex! An uninteintional side-effect, but a good one, I'm sure ;-)

I see the evolution of the avatar as natural, especially if you're someone like me who doesn't use multiple avs. I like to think of it as "becoming more me".

Esteban said...

Love this post, Tober!

October Hush said...

Thanks, Esteban!

Of course by now it's pretty obvious that I have kinda ditched the white skin. I'll rarely wear it now, and the Hybrid skin is my default skin. It just feels like me. It's really nice to reach a place where you feel really comfortable with yourself, you know? I wish it were simple enough to do that in rl.