Ergonomics? Isn't that about how you place your hands on a keyboard? How you sit in front of your screen? Yes, but that's Human Ergonomics. Today I am talking about Second Life Ergonomics.
What exactly do I mean by "Second Life Ergonomics"? I mean that those little avatars that we control (or is it the other way around?) have needs just as their human owners do. They can't see as well as humans, they have restricted ways of moving around and have utterly terrible dexterity. Some of them are pretty ugly, too!
But seriously, these "physical" characteristics of avatars really do affect how we travel throughout the Second Life grid. Who hasn't been stuck trying to navigate to a precise spot, overshooting, and backing up? And repeating 0ver and over? Crashing into walls? Getting stuck in a rotating door? Falling off the edge of a ramp? Try moving while the grid is bagged out!
Frustrating, these be.
When I first built my Caso Milo store, I wanted to right some of these wrongs so that visitors would not encounter those issues. But immediately I had to realize that:
Real Life buildings are made to accommodate Real Life people with their physical capabilities
Second Life buildings should be made to accommodate Second Life avatars with their virtual capabilities
Often I encounter Second Life builds that replicate real life buildings, or incorporate real life building ideas. While these builds are not wrong, they may introduce problems for avatars who do not have the same physical capabilities as humans. Our quest to be realistic sometimes results in difficulties for visitors.
What are the characteristics of avatars that make them different than humans? Let's make a list:
- Sight is normally set to a specific view - from behind the avatar, not from its eyeballs
- Motion is normally in straight lines, and difficult to perform accurately in a curve
- Teleportation is possible
- Flight is possible, except in sims where flight is disabled. (FYI - there is a secret way around this, revealed to me late last night by Veyron Supercharge at her demonic industrial build site... but that's another story for another day)
- Dexterity sucks. It is very difficult to accurately touch or manipulate small items
- Smell and Taste are absent - thankfully!
And let's add one final one:
- Avatars can't always know how something is going to work, since Second Life objects can behave unlike anything in real life. In other words, humans have half a chance at guessing how something works or acts since physics is, well, universal. But Second Life doesn't operate with the same physics. Pink Elephants can fly, Hearts appear on arms or Particle Fog, Doves or even Cheese can flow out of your butt! It's just a bit harder to know what to do.
Knowing that avatars have differences from humans, do you think that buildings should be made differently to accommodate them? I do! I built my shop after considering these differences. You might be interested in knowing how you can build in an ergonomic way... but I will save those tips for another post.