A growing shrinking trend

The Beach Chairs!
Relaxing on human-proportioned beach chairs!

Harvey and I have been busy redeveloping “Our Island” (home to the Basilique) which we’ll be opening to the public sometime in September. In between some pretty sweaty work-sessions we’ll take a break on the beach that we’ve built around our homes.

I thought it would be nice to get some new beach chairs to relax on and found this highly customisable pair from Dutchie. Froukje Hoorenbeek, creator of Dutchie, has been a frequent and generous supporter of our efforts at the Basilique. This is only one reason I turn to her store for most of the Club’s, Playhouse’s and my personal furniture needs; the main reason is that she consistently delivers some of the best looking, best animated, and low land impact furniture on the grid.

What struck me when rezzing these chairs was that she was farsighted enough to include a version for human proportioned avatars. This is the first time that I’ve ever seen a creator offer this. This is a very important issue to me, because I often feel undersized in Second Life, yet my avatar is 5’10” (179 cm), which is 6 inches taller than the average US female.

Why is Second Life furniture oversized for human proportions? Here’s a simple rationale from someone who’s studied the subject in significantly greater detail:

It’s common knowledge that avatars are generally oversized, often close to 7 or 8′ tall, some pushing almost 9′. And yet, the environments we build and explore are larger still, often fully double scale compared to real life. 5m high ceilings instead of the more typical 2.59, 20x20m rooms instead of 10x10m or 5x5m rooms. We need to build so much larger to compensate for SL’s camera.

Of course, this has several consequences that adversely affect our Second Life experience, including:

  • building social spaces that routine overlap the 30M local chat range
  • eating up more prims than we might otherwise need to fill spaces that are needlessly larger than we need
  • requiring larger texture sizes to decorate the surfaces of these spaces which eat up much-needed processor memory

All of this is changeable. We can cut the size of our avatars to align with more human proportions. We can cut the size of our builds to accommodate more average-sized people. We can even change our camera settings to offer a more immersive and convenient user experience.

What we often can’t easily change (unless we’re dealing with scalable mesh objects) are the things we buy and use, which are by default understandably designed for a market that is 1-3 feet taller than human-sized avatars.

For more human-proportioned avatars like myself, even if I manage to scale down an object so that I don’t look like a child in high-chair, the animations are designed in such a way that I end up pouring the contents of my drink on my head because my arms are “too long” for the animation. In fact, according to Vitruvian proportions, my arms are nowhere near long enough even when the appearance slider is maxed to 100 (which it is). I’m sure your RL arms are similar. Just put your arm down the side of your body and point at your knee. Now look down – see how close your finger is to your knee? Trust me, your arms were designed this way for a reason, and we really would rather not have them any shorter than that, thanks!

Now that I think about it, many of the items I own by Dutchie suit my size, which is probably another reason I like them so much. In my view, this is certainly a sign of a trend. I know I’m not the only person that has seen a growing trend towards more realistic proportions, or should I say a growing shrinking trend. I am seeing many more smaller avatars than what is standard issue upon arrival in Second Life, and they look good!

One of the main things that prevents us from seeing how out of proportion we are when we are born into this world; is that pesky default camera that distorts our view. Our heads look bigger than they actually are because we have a bird’s-eye view of our bodies (they are usually much smaller than they would be proportionally), our arms look normal length because we don’t see them straight on (they’re usually much shorter), and our true heights are obscured because practically everything and everyone around us is as gigantic as we are. To date, content creators have accommodated this sizing and the result is a world where we might be giants.

I’m hoping this growing shrinking trend continues. As we’re seeing with standard sizing in mesh clothing, I want to see more creators start including options for animations, buildings and furniture for more human-sized avatars. I’d love to find more cozy places that don’t feel so cavernous. I’d love to be able to dance with my feet at sometimes touching the ground. And, I’d love to be able to drink from my sippy cup without pouring apple juice all over my head.

6 thoughts on “A growing shrinking trend

  1. It’s great to hear that a well-regarded furniture maker has started making properly-proportioned products – i.e. products for avatars that wouldn’t make an NBA star look like a midget. I’ll certainly go check Dutchie’s wares out.

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    1. Sweet! She has stuff for every room of the house, and some outdoor as well. I’m loving her beachy stuff at the moment – like the camp fire, which is mesmerising, and her camp fire logs – all animated, of course.

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  2. I don’t like the standard sizing or any of these trends. It’s forcing people to adapt or miss out and also alter their avatar in a way they didn’t intend to be able to enjoy clothes for example. My avatar is smallish but the butts on the small standard sizing pop out so far or hair creators put the front end of the hair, rigged way out as if i wanted huge breasts. It’s sad that you have floating ghost hair or huge butts if you want to enjoy those clothes/hair.

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    1. Indeed, I like the shrinking trend because it suits me, but you’re right, it’s just another level of standardisation that gets in the way of our ability to shape ourselves in any way we desire. Hopefully, as fitted mesh becomes ubiquitous, we’ll start to see true customisation that negates our needing to be fitted into any particular box. Thank you for your comment!

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