Virtual Psychology

Pregnancy and birth in SL

by Khoisan Fisher

Just a quick post, since I’ve little time to write extensively at the moment and since, in any case, the eloquent and amusing article “Pregnancy and birth in SL” accessible from the link below says it all:


 Forceme Silverspar, ‘Pregnancy and birth in SL’


 I’ve long been fascinated, amused, and bewildered by (and would hoe at some moment to have the opportunity to write seriously on) the phenomenon of SL “families”, avatars who, although their puppeteers be unrelated in real life, group into family structures in Second Life as mothers, sisters, brothers, …

It was around 3 years ago, perhaps, that I first came upon three things in SL that caught my attention:

  • the Picks section of a profile in which, tab by tab, the user’s (or, more properly, avatar’s) Second Life ‘family’ of mother, sisters, children, and whoever else, were introduced with gushing pride and affection;
  • my first sighting of a pregnant avatar;
  • a charity (whose name, these years later, I forget) inviting sponsorship for real-world children through adoption of virtual children in Second Life. 

Seeing a female avatar with a babe in arms, Forceme Silverspar ponders:

As I looked at this woman I wondered if she felt that this prim baby that she could detach and put away in her inventory was supposed to be in any way representative of having her real baby in her arms.  I wondered what drove and possessed people to enjoy this kinda stuff.  Why was she doing it? What she getting out of it and how close to the real thing did she think this was?

More generally I’d want to ask how affectively engaged the real-life SL user is in the elective relationship.  Is this, for those who have chosen to create or to participate in SL families, anything beyond role-play?  Whether role-play or not, what will motivate a person to explicitly nominate another as a family member when the same degree of closeness might be achievable simply through friendship?  (In the real world, for example, one might hear “She’s just like a sister to me” without the further expressed need to profess that the otheris a sister.)  How, qualitatively, will one’s feelings for those in one’s SL family be akin to, or differ from, the feelings one has for members of one’s real-life family?  And perhaps the most perplexing question, implicitly posed by Forceme Silverspar: what exactly is the emotional stance of the female avatar (and let’s presuppose a real-life woman behind the avatar) towards her SL pregnancy and pixel child?

Although I’ve no time to comment it now, another essential read, on ‘child adoption’ in SL, is at:

from which, lost for speech, I simply quote the following snippet of dialogue between ‘child’ and prospective parent:

‘Child’: im’s dunt haba mommi n dadda im’s homlesh
Prospective Parent: awwwwww
Prospective Parent: so you are looking for a family ?
Prospective Parent: have you had one before?
‘Child’: yeshm mees wookin fors famlees n nops mees neber hab wuns
Prospective Parent: awwwww
Prospective Parent: i hope you find one soon
‘Child’: is yous a mommi?
Prospective Parent: well i am hoping to be, very soon
Prospective Parent: but not just yet
‘Child’: iz der a dadda ors bruddes n sisypoos tew ?
Prospective Parent: well i will be getting married soon
Prospective Parent: then there will be a daddy
Prospective Parent: and brothers and sisters too i hope
‘Child’: oO mees onlees tryinz wookin 4 a mommi mees skard ob dadda’s mees wus ober a frens homs n a dadda spanky mees 
Prospective Parent: ooooooo
Prospective Parent: you need a good daddy
‘Child’: ifs yous wus mees mommi wuld yous talks 2 mees ons voic tew ors noos?
Prospective Parent: yes i could
Prospective Parent: would you like that?
‘Child’: wells mees wookin 4 a mommi dat tan talkz ons voic mees aw sum boys wik pleyin gurls n dats yuki

I should, as always, love to hear your opinions, or to hear of your own experiences.  Please allow me to encourage you to respond via the Comments link below.

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