I am fascinated by the ways that people’s lives intersect on and off-line. Second Life is particularly interesting because of how realistically it is trying to replicate people’s off-line lives.
Even more interesting is the racialization in Second Life. When you sign up for Second Life, you get to choose the starting look for your online identity (your avatar). The thing is, you only get to choose from these twelve options:
Not only is it a pretty limited selection, despite the claims about it being Your World and Your Imagination, 10 of the 12 options are white! Although I haven’t seen their market research, it seems fairly obvious that their target market is mostly white, and between the ages of 20 and 30 — or at least would like to appear that way. So even if you aren’t in this charmed circle in your first life, you can be young, thin and white in your second life. I wonder if the makers of these default Second Life avatars thought about how they were representing the ‘world’ of Second Life? Because intentionally or not, they have reproduced the idealized norms of beauty and race.