Body measurement in Second Life

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

As I have recently been attending a lecture on Virtual Reality at universtiy I have found a lot of interesting things to take with me when designing in Second Life. Today something was mentioned that I wanted to summarize here for future reference.
The example in question was described by a car manufacturer. VR environments are often created using projections, so in this case they wanted to simulate the model of a car in real size for the customer to inspect. However, while the projection was physically the exact same size as the real life car, the viewer would still perceive it as much smaller.
The reason for this is a psychological phenomenon, that, while apparantly still unexplored, results in humans perceiving objects as much smaller as soon as they are framed in a smaller Field of View.
Almost immediately I had to think of Second Life and its avatar sizes. A lot of fuss is sometimes made about people adjusting their sizes to unrealistic values, but I personally believe my example explains and justifies that kind of behaviour. While Second Life has a scaling model that tries to attach completely arbitrary numbers to everything in world, I would personally argue that what feels right for the people is a whole lot more important then fitting into a made up chart.
I believe that efficient design is all about making the user feel comfortable and natural in an environment that is about as fake as it can get, so next time an autistic member of the bodymeasurement nazi club tries to tell you that you should feel bad for chosing your size, you can show them to this article and tell them that Oni Horan said that some dude said, that some guy said that it is simply about human nature and nothing else!


Love Hastings said...

The biggest problem with over sized avatars is the all too common tiny head syndrome. And believe me, once you notice it, you cannot ignore it ever again. Tiny heads on large bodies just look wrong.

For many of us club going autistic bodymeasurement Nazis, it's not about a realistic height, but about realistic body proportions. And the head sets the unit of measure.

However, if you understand these issues and still want an over tall shape with a tiny head and unrealisticly long leg length, you have every right! Be empowered - it's *your* avatar!

Oni Horan said...

I actually understand what you mean, I've seen plenty of oversized avatars that truly looked ridiculous too. It's just like you say, it's up to everyone on their own to do what they think is right. As far as heads are concerned, furry heads dont scale with bodysize for example, so its not always a problem.

Scootland Economics said...

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The Nasty Project Page said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I see this problem too.. but I see it from yet another angle as being a artist myself.

I think the problem you may notice with Second life is not so much a simple virtual reality perception problem. The problem is that there has been a failure to adopt what should be the standard size range of the average human avatar. Because of that and the fact that people can make there own shapes... and then sell them to anyone with any proof they know what they are doing... you get some pretty ugly ideas into what is suitable human proportions.

After all, In a place where you can be anything you want to be.. when being 7.5 heads high is normal, and 9 heads high is heroic, why be normal? Even the artist that drew this pointed out that 7.5 heads is 'rather dumpy'

So what you get is allot of people trying to emulate a master artists ideals without understanding what there life's working into idealized expression was about. Now while I understand it, and educated reader, and the author of the blog, (who is a extraordinary artist,) can understand what is fashionable, ideal, and how to go about making a reasonable nice AV... that average user in SL can't because they are uneducated by artist with good standards.. you could beat them over the head with gold proportion rules till you your are blue in the face, and they will never get it.

They get the 9 heads high part makes them of heroic proportions, but they don't get the pat where the crotch must remain at the center of the figure in order for it to have a balanced feeling to it, or that the feet must stand apart widely enough so that a virtual wind gust will not knock over there virtual tough guy that now shaped like a virtual sail.

And this is now further compounded by the perception that a small AV must be a child AV, (which for most adult sim owners is a huge No-No.) So the only way to not be the guy or girl to get kicked out of sim for have a child AV is to max those arbitrary numbers (that mean nothing useful when no one else takes them seriously,) till you can't possibly be mistaken for anything but a giant and then correct from there for ascetics. So not only is miss lady long legs and captain sail panel not only out of proportion... they are so big they could be spotted a virtual mile away.

Then there is also the tenancy of builders not to build in relation to the realist AV size, but in accordance to how much space they can easily get out of a prime. the SL prime is able to made as big as 10 x 10 x 10 meters. in that space you can easily fit two stories worth of floors without the camera bumping into the ceiling... and this is how you create your psychological phenomenon in SL. Even if you survive all the pitfalls of trying to create a proportional AV, and you manage to not blindly max out all of your physical attributes to avoid being thrown out of adult sim, you still must survive all the builders that inadvertently will make you feel small and inadequate in your own AV because they are building with limited resources that require they use every possible utility available to the to get the most out of there sim resources...

If you normal, you simply will max out your AV at some point instead of trying to argue against everyone you meet up with about how big your AV should be..

Laney Lynn said...

Interesting post, but I have to wonder (as well as anonymous) how much this is this issue and a lack of an "eye". Also, you get a lot of cultural ideals of the perfect figure trying desperately to be played out in avatars.

More than anything I would love to pull all SL female avatars and have a class on proper sizing of a woman's rear, legs, and hips!So many women are aerodynamic!

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Jimmy said...

Indeed, if it feels right - it's good. But I guess charts are easier to keep track of?

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