Having taken to second life like a duck... to second life, I had become bored. Truthfully I wanted a motorbike, but without a linden dollar to my name this was an unlikely dream. I would have to turn to pregnancy. So, the time (and more significantly money) had arrived. I would cross the final frontier. My dreams of a talking belly would be realised and my avatar and I could have a swollen stomach to call our own.
As I suspect may be the case in real life, getting pregnant is not quite so quick or fun as one would assume. The entertainment value wore off as soon as things got too technical. So many different pregnancies, only a few places they could actually be realised. Still, I eventually found a secluded island where I could unleash my box. Yet still I was not pregnant, and, whilst awaiting the results of an uncertain insemination, I remembered I was actually a man in real life. I hastily left for the pub. Upon return I was greeted by the sight of my new, enlarged avatar. Could this be the cure for my mid-second-life crisis?
The most noticeable effect of the pregnancy upon my second life experience was in the computer entering a new ice-age. Yup, it was difficult to tell if my character had become more sluggish as the screen flickered and Awesome moved like an unstoppable pregnant juggernaut in one direction only. However, things did steadily improve and I began to experience all the annoying side affects tied to me for the duration of the pregnancy. Apparently my belly has discovered banter. It takes exception to my conversing with anyone for more than five seconds and has turned my avatar into an incontinent wreck.
So it may seem surprising to think that this pregnancy has turned my sorry second life around. Yet it is true. I trudge around the virtual world with a new sense of confidence. No longer am I a second life outsider, no, I have looked into the belly of the beast and become your average weirdo. As a plain looking, standard gauge avatar I felt like a voyeur, now I have an identity. My excited response to the belly perhaps suggests that I consider identity as a concept defined in opposition to something else. With a bland avatar I lacked a sense of self, now at least feel a greater connection to my avatar through our mutual discomfort. Indeed, I even felt obliged to improve life for the distinctly grumpy Awesome by giving her a makeover. My cack-handed nose job didn’t help matters however, and I even felt a fleeting twinge of guilt.
Rather than put people off, my pregnant self was apparently much more approachable. Perhaps I was more noticeable, perhaps less threatening. I enjoyed a conversation with a man who incredibly saw second life as a natural extension of his interest in live action role play. He maintained that it was I who was missing the point however and the meeting did alter one of my preconceptions about second life identities. I had assumed that second life was a game based on a personal identity, with little room for collective identity. However, it seems that it is possible enjoy a sense of collective identity online, as my new acquaintance very much felt part of a group of live action role-players on second life. Perhaps second life is in fact more accommodating of collective identities which differ from those encapsulated by standard social groupings. My policy of militantly rejecting friend requests had perhaps been denying me a full and more truthful second life experience.
I did receive some enquiries about my future child. This surprised me, largely as I had somehow forgotten the association between pregnancy and childbirth. In the knowledge that I was not going to keep the child I had come to consider the tummy talker as more of an item of clothing than a means to child production. I was not the only one. A man with a tail who threw flames at me seemed undeterred by my being ‘with child’. Indeed, in reply to one sarcastic comment he was willing to explain his tail with rather offensive emails. Still, I might have been more considered in my way of second life had I felt I was protecting a human investment.
This is a difference between real pregnancies and second life pregnancies. The latter have nothing to do with an end product. I am led to believe that a pregnancy is not a necessary precondition to child birth in second life. This begs the question of why people would endure pregnancy in second life. I had thought of second life as a place people would turn into a utopian world in which pregnancy might be avoided at all costs. It seems that many people consider it less fantastical however. It becomes a chance to recreate real life, but as they might prefer it. The proximity to reality would thus be essential to the credibility of the second life idea.
In this interview a woman explains that she is having a baby in second life as she has no desire for children in everyday life. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_z3-y2dmU-o. Whilst I’m fairly dubious about that, she claims to want a realistic childcare experience without the responsibility of actual human contact. This is a way in which I think second life differs in its construct of identity from real life. Human responsibility and reactions to it are reflected in the way we behave, and thus construct our identity, and this not recreated in an online environment.