Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On the use of alts....


When will I ever learn to keep my questions to myself? Probably never -- this post was originally created because the topic raised questions in my head, and also with a friend of mine who was quite morally outraged about the original topic posted below.   After we debated the topic for some time, I thought it might be clearer to post my thoughts here.  My intent was to raise a rhetorical question, not start some sort of in-world war with anyone.

It was not my intent to pick on anyone, to start a war, to set myself up as someone who does no wrong and who is passing judgment on someone else.  Unfortunately,  I seem to have done just that.

However, I'm not going to remove this post -- I wrote it with the intent of raising questions, not pointing fingers - it doesn't name names and I don't believe it even passes judgments.

Friends (Quakers) call this type of questioning 'queries' - things we ask ourselves, more than we ask them of others.  Usually if a query causes us unease, it means we need to dig deeper within ourselves to discover why, rather than looking toward others  - Matthew 7.3 comes to mind.

(And yes - the unexpected and unpublished here responses to this post have caused me to ask myself some of my own queries about myself,  how I interact with others and what I might do to improve that without having to shut my mouth when an interesting question comes up).

******The Original Post is Below **************

Oh my..... while I love my alts (those who deserve it, of course)..   I sometimes find the uses people make of their own alts are sometimes quite imaginative and ... sometimes questionable.  Heck, I question my own sanity in the use of my alts...

In Deadwood 1.0,  when one of my alts, Lola, was happily married to J.F. Kanto, one of our adopted children, Jessica, was played by me.  It just made things easier -- there was no doubting whether or not Jessica would show up if we needed her, or if she'd agree or disagree to our storyline.

Currently I have an alt who is both a "steady customer" and a love interest for Lola in role play.   He also comes in handy when trying out dances and other pose balls that require two.  And he  has an alt as a staff member - she's always there when he needs her, and she doesn't have to worry about losing her job.

It can get complicated -- there have been times when I've had arguments with myself - Marrant as an adult competed with Lola for the affections of JF, and even shot her -- and then there are those times when you really need a couple of those alts to be in the same place at the same time.

And yes, I hide some alts -- sometimes an alt is an escape from others, a way to be somebody different, a chance to be bratty or mean or stupid or bigoted or ... many things.  

But what made me start pondering this wasn't really the use of alts in roleplay, but the use of them in marketing yourself, when I stumbled upon someone who appeared to be using a secret alt as a kind of a promotional tool.  My first thought, of course, was "why didn't I think of that?" - but my second thought was - "um... "

Now, I am an admitted "marketeer" (is that term still in use?) from way back.  Even in real life, I'm always finding ways to promote things.  But I have to confess, I have some very mixed feelings about the use of alts to market oneself unless it's done on the up and up. 
Is it merely clever marketing to have an alt who reviews the very products you sell, even if they also kindly review those of others?

Does it even matter?  No one is being harmed, no money being taken away.  At least, it's a method of advertising that does no harm; at worst, its a bit of deception not unfamiliar in Second Life, or real life come to think of it.

Because, of course, this is only Second Life - it's only a game.   And yet... it does bring cause for reflection especially when on the main blog, thanks are given to the alt for the praises one has received from oneself.


  1. hehe Well ... this is what's so amazing about virtual worlds. You can see the most amazing things, and meet the most amazing avatars and typists, but you can't truly believe most of it. It's so hard to remember this virtual world is the biggest systematic delusion ever developed. (well, other than maybe most political systems ...) And in fact we can't remember that, so the use of multiple avatars can still catch us by surprise ... and sadness.

  2. Alts, that is a great subject Marrant. It can get a bit confusing sometimes. though I have not yet had the arguments with myself that you have had.(I have arguments with myself in RL, but shhhhh, don't tell anyone.) Having multiple alts can be confusing sometimes though as you have to constantly remember whether the one you are driving happens to know So and So, even though you met So and So while driving another Alt.
    See, thats confusing....Not sure how I feel about the self promotion using and Alt, but, hey who am I to judge.

  3. If you argue with yourself, who usually wins? :)

    I put promoting avatar A through testimonials from alt B in the same category as those who write product reviews for, say, Amazon under a fake name. As Mr. Alderton said, however, you can't believe most of what you see.

    I'm always a little nervous about talking to someone about a third person...never knowing whether I'm discussing someone to her alt. (Of course, if it helps keep everyone nice, that's not a bad thing.)