I’d like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, Mark Gibson (Snow) who created this lovely nametag for my avatar to proudly wear in-world! Avatar attachments were one of the new features that only just became available in the latest release of the Sansar software, and many people have been using it with a high degree of skill already, creating things such as sunglasses, hats, beards…. and nametags! I’ve even seen some clever avatars with their names perched over their heads, just like in Second Life!
Which brings me to my topic of expressing avatar user identity. During the first six months of the closed beta, we beta testers often complained to Linden lab that we needed a way to identify each other. It was seen as especially important at a time when avatar customization options were extremely few (just a few basic types to choose from). Picture a half-dozen identical brown-haired men in blue blazers, all asking each other who they are!! Linden Lab listened to our complaints, and replied that they wanted to avoid a situation where everybody’s name was stuck over their heads, as it would break immersion (a valid point).
LL’s solution to this, so far, has been to include a feature where (when you are in a VR headset with hand controllers), you can press the secondary index trigger on the hand controller and the name of the avatar you are staring at will appear superimposed on that character. It’s a start, a good start but only a start. There still is no solution for non-VR-headset users, other than using the Nearby feature in local chat to see who is around you. You have to pay attention to the visual and audio cues, and watch to see whose lips are moving! Being able to integrate user identity functions in an unobtrusive but unambiguous way is going to be one of the major challenges moving forward for Linden Lab, and for developers of many other social virtual worlds.