While I’m sitting here, between browsing some SL blogs and being unable to actively play, my mind has been wandering on thoughts of possible changes to bring to my avatar once I can log in again. I absolutely need to plan a “pony-tail” version of her hair – or anything similar, that will leave her neck bare – so that I can properly test clothing on her. Tanaquil has very long hair, and of course it doesn’t help in checking these things.
Then, it brought another thought to my mind: why had I chosen on this specific persona in Second Life? Especially in an online world such as this one, am I recreating “a persona I’d like to be”, or am I acting as in every other kind of roleplaying game?
For the little story, Tanaquil is a character I created in a story I’ve been working on for a few years now. A long, 3-books based story, so not entering into too many details. Her name is actually a historical, Etruscan one, and comes from Tarquin’s wife, who was known in latin texts as a seeress. In my story too, she’s part of a race that could be called “Dark Elves”, except that contrary to the AD&D drows or any kind of classical dark Elves, their hair is usually jet black, and their skin bearing a slight blueish hue. I don’t think that’s very classical in itself in fantasy stories elves, although I could be mistaken. Some of this race’s characteristics are also specific, in my story – pointy ears, but also slit eyes, and a definite “Far East” feeling in many parts of their culture and clothing. This kind of came by itself, as I’ve had a definite interest in (notably) Japanese and Chinese culture, and I freely admit this influence.
When I came to Second Life on my first minutes of trial, I hadn’t any specific plans regarding creating a character. First of all, I was thinking of a name. The one I tend to use the most often on the web wouldn’t have looked very nice once one of the SL family names would have been added to it, and I tried with them all, really. I didn’t want to use my real name, of course, nor the one I use in AO, and thus decided to use Tanaquil, as after all it’s a name I like. After this, as soon as was in the starting area and learnt how to customize face features, hair and body, the avatar kind of followed by itself. To my eyes, Tanaquil will always be ‘the dark Elf’, and before I even truly realized what I was doing, the result was what I’m currently using in Second Life.
It’s a somewhat weird feeling, seeing now that I’ll be playing her for way longer than I had intended. A hastily-chosen name, just for the sole purpose of using my seven days of trial, turned into a character I’m quite fond of, an avatar I like, and a few projects that I’m keeping locked in my mind until I can actually make them become true in game. I suppose that, upon deciding to stay, I could have thought “I haven’t thought about this character at all, let’s make a new account, ditch this one, and recreate something I really want”… but it’s not the case. I’m quite happy so far with what I’ve been doing. Even though the Second Life setting doesn’t really match what the original, novel character was, nor her world.
And thus, this “avatar choice” has quite taken off by itself, leaving me as her creator behind, so to say. I don’t think it’s a matter of really trying to create a “what if?…” persona in this world. I’m wondering if it’s not, all that simply, the pleasure of being able to work on a character that I wouldn’t have been able to shape this way in many other games (not to say in no other game), and without any “race constraints” to get in the way…?