I know I said my posts weren’t going to be newsy, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to conduct a 1-on-1 interview with Aaron Brashears (aka Phoenix Linden) of Linden Lab, creators of Second Life. Brashears is attending the Sex in Video Games Conference here in San Francisco as a panelist.
I asked Brashears if the company planned any interface tweaking that would (directly or indirectly) benefit the facilitation of 3-D simulated sex inside SL’s virtual world. He told me efforts are in fact under way to help address sloppy visual displays users have to put up with while engaging in animations, including sex poses — eg., problems such as virtual genitals not properly lining up with each other during sex simulation, and body parts going through body parts, making the on-screen display look too unrealistic, thereby diminishing user immersion.
I also asked him whether Linden Lab would ever consider adding digital genitals to the world’s standard-issue avatars, versus users having no other option but to buy them at retail, which is currently the case. He said it’s a development that ranks low on the priority list, if at all. “I don’t see that coming any time soon,” he said, adding that would present age-appropriateness issues as far as younger users who reside on SL’s separate teen grid. He also said adding genitalia would present compatibility issues that relate to SL’s body templates.
“Then every texture that was drawn to (those templates) would break,” he said.
Brashears said the user-created genitalia that’s currently available in-world is sufficient enough at the moment. But he added that including such virtual body parts with avatars’ basic anatomies may be something the company might seriously consider doing in the long term in the general interest of improving the overall appearance of stock avatars.
Brashears also did not foresee the company incorporating sex animations into the interface any time soon. Users currently can purchase animation overrides and pose balls to execute such displays.
Another interesting tidbit that’s not specifically sex-related: Brashears said that Linden Lab is currently working on enhancements aimed at reducing the amount of time it takes brand-new users to get the hang of the interface and become acclimated with in-world navigation. Currently, a considerable amount of new users spend up to four hours trying to get a rough idea of how to make their way around SL (I am guessing this negatively affects the tally of user accounts.) Linden Lab would like to see that four-hour time frame reduced to 30 minutes, Brashears said.
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