“Our dreams are a second life.” ~Gerard de Nerval
By Blaise Joshua, from Every Second Man
Humans have an odd fascination with being small. From Alice in Wonderland to Innerspace, Gulliver’s Travels to The Super Mario Bros, being tiny is a common motif through literature and popular culture. And come on: who of us didn’t harbour a secret envy toward our Action Man and wish we too could explore the jungle of our own back garden, fend off the neighbour’s cat or parachute (without a ‘chute) from the first floor window of our parents’ three bed semi? Being small in a big world is firmly rooted in the human psyche. And, of course, if it’s out there, it was always inevitable it would land here. And it has. And if what I’m told is true, being small is going to be big … very, very big.
To be truthful, I first met this phenomenon with the open arms of utter indifference. I’d seen small avis around, of course, but I hadn’t really paid them any attention. I just thought it was yet another passing curiosity in a world full of passing curiosities. That is, until one of my friends went small. She invited me over to show me her new diminutive self and, on landing in her house, I immediately got it. She was sitting cross legged on her now titanic sofa, naked except for an oversized top hat that covered her eyes. It was one of the most adorable (and oddly sexy) things I had ever seen. She was beautiful, charming, and oh so vulnerable! I realised straight away that I had been too dismissive, too quickly, of little avis, and (like so many things in my life) all it had taken was a naked girl in a top hat make me realise it.
To experience this for myself, then, I needed my own small avi. There are a number of different creators making small avis, and I settled on the Immortals line. As the very helpful owners explained, small avis lend themselves easily to the fantasy world, but there was a great call for realistic looking mesh avis too, a calling that Immortals in filling. I decided this was the choice for me, as just going small was adventure enough without turning myself into a fairy or hobgoblin as well.
The most lovely Janet Halley, a fellow small avi virgin, agreed to accompany me on my quest of diminutive discovery, and we chose our avis to conduct our mission. We went home, changed and prepped ourselves for the night (I was amazed to find my regular AO works just fine with my small avi) and stood up on my mantel piece to take some introductory photos. Janet looked, I must say, absolutely amazing (she said the same for me, by the way, but I think she was just being polite!) and I was realising that Immortals had accomplished their stated mission – these avis really are realistic looking. While it’s true that perhaps the clothing isn’t quite to the same standard as we’ve got used to in the big world since the advent of mesh, I didn’t feel we looked anything less than the dashing couple, out for a big first date in a small new world. The whole experience was really rather exciting.
Before I began this whole exercise, I had assumed that, when you took the small avatar, you still existed solely in the ‘big’ world. However, at Immortals we had been given a number of LMs that were small avi specific, replete with small clubs and small dance animations. After leaving for the night, it was in one such club that Janet and I had our first ‘small avi’ dance. Because of the quality of avatars (therefore, not looking any different to big avatars) and because this was a small club, we very quickly forgot our new pint-sized stature and relaxed into the evening. After this period of acclimatisation (you feel oddly vulnerable when you first become small, especially when you do so in the big world), Janet and I decided we were ready to go in search of a new venue and of other small avis.
This is where we found Shrinkydinks.
Our time in Shrinkydinks was just incredible, so I find myself pausing as I type, summoning whatever expressive powers I possess in order to be able to adequately convey the experience. Shrinkydinks is a club, but it’s a club specifically for small avis. It’s actually built as the bedroom of an artistically inclined 1980s teen, a teen with a penchant for all things Star Wars. In fact, the dance floor is underneath the bed, although because of my new and unfamiliar perspective, I didn’t realise this until long after we had arrived. As such, this is one of the most creative, fun and downright whacky sims I’ve ever been on! It was just brilliant – it was like my bedroom in the 1980s, with my Nintendo console and action figures strewn everywhere. Except now my childhood fantasy had come true! I was Action Man (albeit one in a tux) … I was exploring under the bed and I was an adventurer in my own bedroom.
The sim was only half the joy of this visit though. I can’t remember a time when I’ve stepped into any new venue and been made to feel more welcome. The moment Janet and I landed, we were welcomed vociferously and with profound warmth by a collection of bizarre, magical and thoroughly charming avis. It was while chatting to a wooden doll that I thought for the first time ‘This is like Wonderland!’ I’ve no doubt that the small avi community is big and it’s growing, but my sense is that it’s still nascent, and therefore there seemed to be a really genuine desire to welcome new people into it wherever you travelled in the little world. Everyone was keen to talk to us, ask us what brought us here and help us with any questions or concerns we had about embarking on this new adventure. Toward the end of the evening, I was even able to cobble together some kind of group photo of those that were still in the club. It was a special, special evening, and I thoroughly recommend that anyone venturing into this community stop by Shrinkydinks to experience both the sim and the community there. It was an absolute highlight, not just of my evening with Janet, but of my entire Second Life in the year that I’ve been here.
When the DJ finished for the night, Janet and I continued exploring the sim and the little world around us. We both agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed this evening and this new experience. We also concluded that we had both embarked upon this journey with a lot of preconceived notions that had now been dispelled. One was the quality of the avis – quite frankly, they’re superb, and there’s a lot of choice both in terms of avis themselves and clothes. With regards the community, we met some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I’ve ever experienced in SL. Last, and perhaps critically: was it going to be any fun? The answer, men of Second Life, is a resounding yes! On so many levels, this was one of the most fun nights I’ve ever had in SL, and with some of the best people. I think it’s unlikely that I will ever turn away from the ‘big’ world, but I do feel like my eyes have been opened to yet another amazing new experience here, and I certainly feel the richer for it.
If you’re interested in taking on a smaller form, you can take a trip to Immortals by clicking here, where the rather lovely staff with no doubt assist you. And, small mesh avi in hand, you must must must take a wander over to Shrinkydinks, which you can find by following the shrinkylink (see what I did?) here.
September, 2012, Every Second Man, for the men of Second Life.