Sitting around in my second life

One of the questions that came up repeatedly during the Government Consortium on Virtual Worlds on Friday was “Why do our avatars need to sit, when they don’t get tired?”

I think it’s because sitting is part of our language. Now, I’m not a language expert, but I do know a little bit about communication. Sometimes my avatar stands around in Second Life. More importantly, sometimes I see avatars standing around in second life and it’s clear that …

What?  That the avatar is idling while the user is working on other things? That the user was suddenly called away from his or her desk?

Rather than looking at sitting, dancing, or any other of the actions and animations our avatars as being actions, aren’t they part of our communication? When I’m sitting in Second Life, I’m communicating (as some pose balls imply) that I’m lounging. I’m not shopping. I’m probably parked for a while, perhaps searching, perhaps lurking, but… I’m not going to up and disappear short of.. ahem, getting abruptly called away from my desk for a longer-than-half-hour idle sesson.

So rather than talking about the relationship between our actions and our bodies and how avatars don’t have the same requirements, let’s talk about our avatars’ body language and how actions enhance our ability to communicate online.  Because honestly, that’s part of what makes a virtual world more than a series of chat rooms with pretty pictures on the walls.