"You’re WHAT???" (or, Pregnancy in 2nd Life)

Finally!  The last F4L re-post.  From now on, I’ll be originating blogs here and — if I feel it’s pertinent — re-post them to F4L.
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If you’ve been in Second Life for a while, you’ve probably encountered “pregnant” avatars.  They’re hard to miss.  Even if you haven’t seen them on your screen yet, they announce their presence in Local Chat with periodic text about their condition: “[avatar’s] tummy is upset”; “[avatar] feels the baby kicking”, “[avatar] needs to take a pre-natal vitamin”, yadda yadda.

Let’s get my personal reaction out of the way, first: I mute them. Spam is spam.

Even so, I want to understand why.  Second Life is (among other things) a refuge from the cares of reality… so I’m asking: What’s the motivation for someone to roleplay — that is, pretend — to be pregnant?  After all, this is not where new avatars come from; the vendor delivers those.  *grin*  And, it’s already a cliche that Second Life sex is the safest kind there can be: no diseases, no accidental pregnancy for the female participants behind the keyboard… often, no emotional attachment whatsoever, a quick and casual “wham, bam, thank you Sam!” (either Samuel or Samantha).

We’ll get back to motivation…  Before that, especially for my readers who have never considered what it takes to play at pregnancy in Second Life, let’s look at the logistics: the props and special effects.  In RL, pregnancy happens for free and only costs tons of money afterward.  In SL, as we all know, anything you want has to be bought up front, then rezzed or worn.  I did a few hours of research on XStreet — made much longer than it should have been by the fact that XStreet has one of the crappiest search engines ever thrown together — and had my eyes opened by the kinds of products invented and sold to make the pregnancy experience more “realistic”, as well as by their cost.   (Disclaimer: I am NOT endorsing any of the following products by posting links to their XStreet pages!)

It’s probably a lot easier for furries to look pregnant: we’re used to prim attachments.  Heads, tails, paws, digitigrade legs, etc., are what make us furries to the eye, after all.  I found a well-shaped, recolorable pregnant belly that any fur with decent skills can mod to look convincing.  Human (that is, non-furry) avatars have a tougher and more expensive time of it, if they really want to look the part.  There are “kits” available with a series of progressive shape files to wear as the pretend pregnancy advances.  They range in price from free to L$1000 (imagine the range of quality!) – here’s a random mid-priced sample.

What about that annoying spam that infuriates me so?  That comes from what are generically called “tummy talkers”, and they’re simply a scripted prim one wears in addition to the visible signs of gravidity.  They come with pre-programmed timelines much shorter than a standard 9-month RL human pregnancy — the standard seems to be six to eight weeks. (Then again, we’re familiar with how time flies in SL compared to the real world…) This one seems to be pretty comprehensive in what it will do.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: my searches dug up products that are waaaaaaay out there on the fringe of the total roleplay experience.  This HUD, for L$ 700, basically programs the female avatar with a fertility cycle.  This one, by the same maker, adds a paternity test (!!!) for a mere L$ 25 more.

What do you get for all of this?  Nothing. You have to buy the babies, too!  For furries, I found these to be the best looking ones — but page through that list for yourself and realize that “best looking” is highly subjective. Also, notice the prices! L$1995 for a single “bag of prims” (as a friend called them when I shared my early research) — more than twice the average cost of a genuine furry avatar!  But hey, only L$3675 for twins — save 8%, what a bargain!

And then what?  They don’t grow, they don’t change, they don’t move… they’re not avatars, they’re furniture.  Of course, they also don’t eat or drink, poop or pee, cry, get hurt or sick, go to school, or want to borrow the car.  Babysitting?  No problem!  Right-click and Take back into your inventory.  Get bored, break up with the spouse, just plain give up on the the whole fake “parenting” shtick?  No problem!  Just don’t rezz them again; move to Trash, Delete.  Same thing applies if the boredom/breakup/loss of interest occurs during “pregnancy”.  No sticky ethical self-examination here — it’s not abortion, after all, it’s roleplay!  You can stop playing any time!

Before I leave the topic, I also found that I’m not the only one annoyed (if not deeply disturbed) by the pregnancy phenomenon… and at least two have met it head-on with humor.  I’ll let the products speak for themselves.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: the Evil Tummy Talker and the Second Life Vasectomy Certificate!

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PS: I want comments. If you agree with me, great.  If you don’t, even better!  If you’ve done this, or your mate has, tell me and the other readers about it. I want to know: What’s the point???

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5 responses to “"You’re WHAT???" (or, Pregnancy in 2nd Life)

  1. Invitro fertilization, well-care for un- and underinsured women, hospital stays, c-sections, and premature birth care can bankrupt a real family in the United States.

    My biggest problem with the tummy talkers is that fetuses don't talk, and thus the talkers are unrealistic.

    I had a Second Life pregnancy. I stayed on a realistic month-to-month schedule, made my own shapes, and had a miscarriage at 7 months. It cost me nothing besides the pool of blood on the floor (L$40 I think). I did it for emotional reasons, and came to the conclusion that I am glad I am probably not fertile any longer in RL. I will miss not having more children but I think it is for the best.

    I think that experiencing a Second Life pregnancy would also be interesting for someone facing their elderly years, who has never had children. Also possibly for a young adult who wants a child, but has not completed as much schooling as they would like, and are thus conflicted about a RL pregnancy. Someone born male could experience pregnancy, something that is not possible at this time medically. And some do it for the attention, I'm sure. Someone who was actually pregnant could make themselves look like they do in RL.

    So in the bigger picture here, “What's the point of any prim attachment?”

    :-)

  2. Thank you for replying, Ivy.

    However, you seem to sit on the fence of authenticity, and simultaneously argue both sides: compare “…fetuses don't talk, and thus the talkers are unrealistic,” with “Someone born male could experience pregnancy, something that is not possible at this time medically.”

    I lose my capacity for comprehension (on any other level but intellectual) when I try to bridge the chasm between appearance and experience. A real pregnancy alters the body and mind in many more ways than distending a belly. A real pregnancy cannot be logged into and out of at convenience… Correction: it can be “logged out of,” once and once only, by elective procedure. It can also “crash” — and I simply cannot equate the purchase of a prim resembling a pool of blood with the psychological trauma of a genuine miscarriage.

    Still, as with all role-play, people get from it what they will. One man's “bizarre” is another woman's catharsis.

  3. For the record: Months after this blog was originally written, I made the acquaintance of Snickers Snook, whose blog is now on the roll to the right. She's also the inventor of the Evil Tummy Talker! ;)

  4. Pingback: Milepost 5000 | Telling: Like it Is

  5. Currently, my SL character IS pregnant, but I had her do surgery instead of the natural way. I don’t want to deal with a dad that will walk in and out of a child’s life so I said “I like being a single mum” and plus I can support her and the child, lol. The point of being “pregnant” is maybe to feel like a mom, or just for the RP and to enjoy a life that the person behind the screen might want. I personally like my character being pregnant because I feel happier :-), but thats just me. Reply if you want :). Plus, I like the feeling of controlling someone that will have a baby, I just get joy from a virtual baby. But hey, thats just me, lol.

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