Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Future

(We aren't interested in the Ugly...)

Prim breasts, like other non-standard avatars, are tributes to the ingenuity of SL builders, but they force you to choose between being well-dressed and being well-endowed.

(And then there are the IP issues. Adapting prim breast tops to a standard top, or prim breasts to a skin, will almost always involve replicating a texture or pattern, either by hand, by snapshot, or with a tool that captures textures on the way to the graphics card. Sometime around or before I first entered Second Life, there was a huge brouhaha over a skin which was bought, and then modified purely for the purchaser's personal use. I sincerely believe that falls under fair use, but I expect that any such fair use is something you will have to do yourself rather than commissioning.)

So, we have various factors that combine to make life with prim breasts a pain:
  • They preclude access to much of the SL fashion world.
  • Their custom nature makes it difficult to (financially) justify going into the business of making tops that work with them.
  • Prim breast makers necessarily can't devote their efforts to really good clothing.
  • To use them effectively, you have to do a lot of your own editing.
All this keeps the market small.

So, what lies in the future?

First, we're starting to see prim breasts made from sculpted prims. This makes it easier to paint them with top-as-texture as standard avatar tops are done. Prim breast makers are also looking into better user interfaces, which is nice.

Major advances, though, will have to come from, or as a side effect of, a change that improves the avatar in general; the "no new features" frenzy exemplified by the "Open Letter" will make it hard to get even a universally beneficial improvement. (For example, sculpted prims make many things possible in SL, not just improved prim breasts. Had LL been petitioned to add some specific new prim shape just of interest to breast makers, nothing would have happened.) I'm not sure what that will be; VWR-1258 comes closest of the proposed changes.

Several times, I've been asked a question that strikes me as the silliest possible question to ask in a virtual environment: "Are those real?" Come on... SL is Strawberry Fields, right? "Nothing is real." (Though come to think of it, there seems to be plenty that people get hung about... ) On the other hand, I've seen prim breasts called "implants," and in fact one prim breast maker calls his establishment "Implant Nation." They have the same connotations--and those connotations aren't good.

Perhaps "real" for SL body image is defined as "achievable with the sliders"... but I've never heard anyone in SL call prim hair a "wig" or "toupee." I think that's because nobody wants to think of herself as wearing a wig, or himself as wearing a toupee. Being revealed as wearing a wig or toupee is a standard comic turn in movies and TV, belittling the person exposed, so in SL you never hear the W-word.

[UPDATE: Looking at the Wikipedia page for "toupee", the discussion page indicates that the page once had a list of toupee-wearing famous people. The list was removed, and some of the discussion concerned possible libel suits over such a list, which indicates just how little people wish to be known as toupee wearers.]

I hope that prim breasts will become unnecessary, that we'll be able to make our figures as we wish and then go shopping, secure in the knowledge that we can buy and wear what we will. That day is not here yet, alas.


Anonymous said...

I've got to weigh in on this one. As an avatar with a massive bust I have received a lot of comments along those lines. It is amazing how much commotion a huge pair of breasts causes when the giant steel scorpion standing next to you gets barely a look. Even in the nude adult areas where men are walking around with multiple penis attachments (how do you expect THAT to work?) my bosom attracts more than it's share of comments. "Gee don't you have back problems"? THEY ARE FREAKIN' PRIMS! GRAVITY DOESN'T EXIST HERE UNLESS YOU WANT IT TO! But I tell them that I work out a lot, like I can build my virtual muscles by lifting virtual weights and running on my virtual treadmill....or just buy a giant set of virtual muscles to support my giant virtual breasts. It's not all bad, I've made friends through my boobs but then I wonder if they would have even noticed me if I looked "normal".
SL is all about fantasy and there are some folks that have truly gone the distance to make their avatars unique. The Lindens need to wake up to the fact that they have created a fantasy world. The line was crossed when the avatars were given the power to fly. We need to see the limits lowered to let our imaginations soar.

Melissa Yeuxdoux said...

Exactly right... I'd love to chat with you some time, anonymous, or converse via email.

Tiessa said...

I wore prim breasts around for a while as well and I had the same experience as anonymous - namely, they caused a greater commotion than the even more outlandish avatars next to me. I received IMs full of derision about them even when I was dressed conservatively, whereas wearing the most outlandish fetish gear without them doesn't even elicit a raised eyebrow.

There is something so primal about the breast that runs even deeper than the penis in the human psyche I guess.

Thanks for the round-up Melissa, I wish there was a better solution than waiting for LL to implement a few JIRAs.

Perhaps a broadcast protocol that prim clothing makers could respond to that outlines the dimensions of the avatar to conform to? This would have more uses than just prim breasts, normal prim skirt makers could use it to custom fit their clothing to the purchaser.

One thing that has always bothered me about LSL is the lack of methods to retrieve information about the avatar's dimensions. The protocol has the nice option of allowing in world-developers to "override" those of the base avatar, which LSL methods wouldn't.

I wonder if there could be some "breast makers working group" that could gather and make a common solution.