A majority of Second Life users disclosed they had one or more secondary avatars, in a show of hands at a recent enterprise-focused roundtable. “Alts” allow their owners to express themselves in ways that are either incongruent or inappropriate for their main identity.
Although alts are often acquired as vehicles for anonymous “bad” behavior, they are also used as outlets for recreational role playing and identity exploration. Walking in another’s shoes (or entire body in this case) can expand our understanding of others and extend the boundary of our self-image.
If it can be beneficial to experiment with a couple of alternative identities, why not develop the concept into a systematic practice. I’ve been thinking through a concept with the working title “Archetype of the month club.” Here’s the plan:
1. Create a dozen avatars, each representing a clear archetypal character. Each would include an avatar and associated inventory items, a vivid description of its personality, and a set of activities to foster a visceral experience within the persona. Exercises might include trips to specific sims along with specific activities.It would take a fair amount of work to put together. I'm thinking creators of shapes, skins, clothes, etc. might donate works to the project. Perhaps there are researchers who might be interested?
2. Put together a Second Life group for participants and host periodic (weekly?) get together to talk about experiences.
3. Create a group blog for participants to share their experiences.
In any case, I'll keep you posted. As always, feel free to share your thoughts, either here or via email.