OMG She’s Talking About Second Life Measurements Again!

Revenland RPG (moderate)

For those readers who don’t frequent the virtual world of Second Life I should explain that avatar height is a “thing”. There are people who complain about measurements which aren’t “realistic”.

Seriously. In a virtual world they are concerned with being normal and in line with real life. To them this means that your avatar’s dimensions should be more “natural” than the regularly seen humanoids roaming around the grid.

An inworld tool tells me that my being is 6′ 9″ tall – according to some I should be only 5′ 7″. The fact that I’m not makes me unnatural, even mutant, to proponents of “realistic avatars”.

Revenland RPG (moderate)

I was reminded of this debate when I visited Revenland this morning. At first I thought they had a height bar because they were discriminating against us lofty individuals – it turned out to be more about the role play involving human and non-human characters.  You can find out more about this Medieval & Fantasy RPG on their website.

However, once I started thinking about this issue again, I decided I’d mention a few things.

Revenland RPG (moderate)

I know it’s easy to become fully immersed in the virtual world, but you aren’t 5′ 7″. On my screen you’re about 6 inches tall – your monitor may return different results. You are shorter than me – and that’s OK. Just as it is OK for me to be taller than you.

In addition, the measurements in Second Life are arbitrary. If the person who did the original coding had placed the hashmarks further apart, or closer together, on that stick – we’d all still look the same but our virtual heights would have different values.

Revenland RPG (moderate)

The other aspect of measurement often used to judge avatars relates to shape. Unfortunately (to some), few of us reflect the ideal human defined by the Vitruvian Man. As a racist and sexist example of an exercise in math it’s great. Real life it is not.

I don’t have an issue with anybody’s choices when it comes to creating their avatar. Be tall or short or round or thin – whatever floats your boat. Use whatever rationale you want. I just wish people would stop using the terms real or normal or natural or realistic.

Our virtual world is none of those things and neither are we. :)

Revenland RPG (moderate)
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20 Comments

  1. I must say i do find much more important to discuss the use of a non default camera view angle instead of the default one. Never got worried about avatar height.

    Reply
  2. Everybody’s the same height when I mute, block, and derender them.

    I wouldn’t say it’s arbitrary… more relative, if anything. Your 6’9″ as opposed to my usual 6’0″ (minus hat and FMH boots) means I look up to you, but look down on someone shorter. Extreme differences result in some absurd group photos. Or annoyances when trying to pose on props that assume one height, and do not make it easy to adjust or resize the prop.

    Reply
    • when I say arbitrary I’m referring to the values assigned :) 5’7″ could just as easily have been 8 feet if the hashmarks had been closer together on that programmer’s stick. :)

      The “real” virtual height is, as you say, relative.

      and yes the annoyances exist :)

      Reply
      • Minus

         /  June 30, 2015

        It’s really not relative though, especially when it comes to building. When a standard SL giant comes to a sim that’s based on normal, human, scale they tower over everything and things like chairs, benches or tables seem kid sized.

        Likewise, if you take a normal size avi into old school regions or builds you’ll barely be able to see over tables or bars at 5’6 and chairs will look absurd.

        The size of prims determine the scale of the world as that is how the world is built and according to that scale a large percentage of the population is insanely tall. Thankfully, things have been trending down as more talented builders and designers build to scale.

  3. Yes, imagine me with my 5.39 and my soulmate that is 6.9;)

    Reply
  4. Good points! I’ve never understood the obsession some have with “realistic” heights in SL. As you say, its all fairly arbitrary.

    Instead, to the extent anyone should care – a debatable proposition – the focus should be on maintaining relative differences across avatars to create an illusion of reality. Most female avatars should be shorter than the male ones. Ethiopian marathon runners should be skinnier than sumo wrestlers. Canadian avatars should be less sensitive to winter sims than those designed to appear to be from southern U.S. states. :)

    Reply
  5. How tall should a dung beetle be? The little critters rolling a little ball of sh**t around ? Thats what I was last time I logged out. To me he was way too big, But any smaller, and no one noticed. Seriously.

    Reply
  6. It’s incredible sometimes how our real life beliefs and sensibilities start to creep their way into the virtual world! My SL counterpart is actually *shorter* than the RL me. In fact, I’m sure some would argue that female avies in SL who match my RL female height are “unrealistic” themselves, but that would be wholly inaccurate and shortsighted (pun most definitely intended!)

    Who are we to say how tall/slender/muscular/etc someone “should” be, most particularly in a virtual world? Can’t we leave our expectations and prejudices on the outside and marvel that there exists a place where we can be and present as anything we like? It’s the coolest thing ever!

    Reply
  7. I kind of disagree, I think.
    I use the inworld measurements LL put in there; the prim.
    It says in my window that a prim is 50 by 50 by 50 cm.
    Once I learned that, I rezzed a prim that was 1.80cm and stood next to it and tweaked my avatar till I was the same height… a dwarf in most sims.
    It just felt good knowing I was that height, I want to be as much as I am in RL and I had been tweaking my avatar a lot and just not quite sure if I was doing it right.

    When I then started building stuff I soon realised that if I followed this scale I call RL scale I could fit a lot more into a small region but also that I could just copy paste the RL measurements from building plans, famous landmarks, etc and always be sure that when I build those in SL, the dimensions would always be correct… and less primmy ;)

    In other words, I build 1920s Berlin to a semi RL scale and wouldn’t do it any other way.
    But we don’t force other people to change their avatar to fit in (although some may bump their heads) and we only make jokes about tall people to those we’ve known for a long time, as friends sometimes tease each other.

    Reply
  8. I don’t know exactly how tall I am, I know it is taller than `normal’. I was taller than Garth but we were never fussed about it.

    Reply

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