I was recently pointed to a new digital magazine for gay men in SL called Manshots (click on the title to read it); very interesting stuff, and I'm sure I'll read it again. The cover features an old friend of mine, well-known DJ Hotboy Lockjaw, looking as sexy as ever.
There's a lot of interesting material in the magazine -- some excellent photography, including some very sexy shots by Joseph Nussbaum of JN Studios. I'm still trying to figure out why there is an article on how to get better abs. In RL there are plenty of places to find that information and in SL, well, you just go buy yourself better abs. Similarly, an article about how to be a better top -- agreed, many guys in RL need to know that, but I'm not sure why you'd use SL as a vehicle to bring them that information. There's plenty of RL magazines that will tell you how to make your RL life better, but none that will tell you how to make your SL better.
But this is small stuff. Gay men in RL will find this information worth reading about, and in the meantime there are interesting ads and photographs to look at ... and any conceptualization problems will doubtless sort themselves out in the next few issues, because the people behind this magazine seem clever enough to figure out what their readers are looking for.
Meanwhile, the most interesting article from my point of view was on pages 35/36; an article by Angelik Lavecchia called "10 Steps to Impress". Now this really is the sort of thing that I want to read about: the viewpoint of an experienced resident about how to improve your SL experience. And there are a bunch of worthwhile points in the article; the principal thesis is that people in SL form a great deal of their opinion of you based on what your avatar looks like.
So the ten headings under which Angelik suggests you should focus your efforts are:
- No bling
- No facelight
- Prim perfect
- Color adjustment
I have to say, it's clear that attitude isn't a visual aspect of one's avatar, but the point is still a good one. People don't like whiners and drama.
There are enough topics here for five or six future articles, but I did want to pick up on one aspect that I believe was overlooked -- and that I think is a primary visual element that affects how other people react to your av. That would be your AO (Animation Override). In fact from my point of view, the three most important elements are Skin, Shape and AO; those are the three things you need to upgrade as quickly as possible because, as Angelik says and I agree, "Most people in SL aren't looking for someone that looks like a newbie".
Experienced SL residents have long ago progressed past the basic animation set with which we're provided when we first enter SL; we all chuckle as we see a newbie "duck-walking", because it's the one thing that is irretrievably linked to inexperience. There are plenty of decent free AOs out there, such as this one from Vista, that will take you immediately past the duckwalk stage. My own experience many years ago was that I "cheaped out" and bought an inexpensive AO; it soon became clear that I'd need to upgrade immediately, because I always looked pretty much like a guy who urgently needed to slip behind the nearest bush and have a pee. I next bought a very expensive model and have never regretted it. The animations are selected to give an impression of self-confidence and aggression; those are the qualities I want to project.
When you have a high-quality AO, you can fill it with other animations that mean you'll never repeat a stand in front of someone, which always gives the impression of someone with limited experience. And if you spend as much time as most gay residents dancing in clubs or during social occasions, trust me, you need to select, purchase, and bring your own dance animations. I agree with Angelik that you should be selecting everything about your avatar to present the impression of a consistent, clear personality. My own choice is that everything I do should contribute to the appearance of masculinity at all times -- not exactly hyper-masculinity, but just being very clear that I'm not in the least feminine and that's the way I am. The place where I most often see people fall down in projecting a consistent image is with dancing. Keep your eyes open the next time you go to a SL club; you're bound to see a rough and tough looking guy dancing like a teenage girl or one of Lady Gaga's backup dancers, and it always makes me chuckle. I searched long and hard for dances that would suit my large, super-muscled avatar -- dances that gave the visual impression that I was NOT very flexible, NOT a good dancer, just out there to have a good time without really caring what the dance "style" of the day was. Like most things in SL, perfection is easy but imperfection is more interesting. And if you are hugely muscled, it's unlikely that you tear yourself away from the gym long enough to spend the hours that are necessary to learn "the robot" or popping and locking, or whatever. Yes, you can use the dance ball in a club -- but isn't it better to control every aspect of what you're displaying until it reflects precisely the message you're trying to impart?
I'll look forward to future editions of Manshots with great interest. Check it out -- you will too.