Don’t misunderstand me…I plan on living a long and healthy life and dying a very old man. But when I do pass on, I want to leave some of my Second Life avatars to other people in my will.
Over the past eleven years, my passionate hobby has been creating and outfitting SL avatars. I have created many avatars over the years, and it has been a creative and deeply satisfying endeavour:
Some avatars lasted only a couple of days before I deleted them; others have been with me since the very beginning of my adventures in Second Life. Witches and wizards and wolves, pirates and painters, sergeants and satyrs, barbarians and ballerinas, harlequins and hippies, gladiators and geishas… my hobby has given me endless hours of pleasure and escape. Some were exclusively for role-play purposes; others were just a means to live inside somebody else’s skin for an hour while strolling the grid. Others were created specifically to evoke reactions from passers-by. I could be whatever I wanted, and I was: an angel, a fairy, a goth girl, Elvis, Queen Elizabeth the First, Lady Gaga, Santa Claus, a supermodel, a hobo, a spaceman, a Na’vi from the movie Avatar, a medieval minstrel.
Here is a photo mosaic of all the avatars I had created during my first five years in Second Life. (I created this photo mosaic back in 2012, as a sort of ceremonial way to wean myself off SL and move on. Of course, that didn’t really happen! I took a long break and came back in 2016.) Many, if not most, of these avatars I have since deleted, but I have kept the rest of them.
I understand that it is currently against the Linden Lab Terms of Service (TOS) to give your SL avatar to another person. I believe that we need to make an exception. I would take great pleasure from knowing that some of my Second Life avatars, on which I lovingly spent so much time and money, would live on after I die. It would be a kind of digital immortality.
Of course, I understand that Linden Lab does not want avatar accounts to become a commodity, something that is bought and sold on the marketplace. I was surprised to find that there are even some places online where people actually sell their old avatar accounts, especially those legacy accounts created with a proper first name and last name; this might even be one of the reasons why LL is bringing back avatar last names.
I would never want to sell one of my avatars; I find the very idea repugnant. But it would give me great pleasure to be able to freely give one of my avatars as a gift or a legacy to a friend or family member. And I want Linden Lab to explicitly allow this.
Second Life is soon turning 15 years old. I’m certain that this sort of thing has happened in the past. And I’m quite certain that some of the people driving an avatar in SL are not the original creators. As more of SL’s original userbase starts to die off, this will be a perfectly natural thing for some avid SL users to want to do.
And no, I don’t think it’s creepy at all. The people to whom I would leave my avatars would be free to do as they please with them, redesign them, or give them on in turn.
This is my heartfelt plea to Linden Lab: please allow this (if you don’t already), and update your Terms of Service accordingly. Thank you!
UPDATE 5:48 p.m.: Well, what do you know? Ask, and ye shall receive! Somebody just told me that Linden Lab already has a posted policy on exactly this topic on their user wiki:
How do I bequeath my Second Life account and its assets in the event of my real life death?
In your will, you must include the legal (real life) name of the person who you want to inherit your Second Life account and assets in the event of your death.
Pursuant to Section 4.1 of our Terms of Service:
You may not sell, transfer or assign your Account or its contractual rights, licenses and obligations, to any third party (including, for the avoidance of doubt, permitting another individual to access your Account) without the prior written consent of Linden Lab.
I need to notify Linden Lab of the real life death of a Resident; what documentation does Linden Lab need?
The Second Life support team requires the death certificate and may require other additional testamentary letters or orders, as may be required by law. Additional verification of any party’s identity, including the deceased, may also be required.
In general, the team requires:
- Copy of the death certificate
- Copy of the will
- Copy of a government-issued ID sufficient to identify you
- Testamentary letter or other appropriate order (as appropriate)
If I die in real life, can you let my Second Life friends know?
Maybe. Linden Lab can only act on instructions that are part of a legally-recognized document such as a valid will. You would have to specify in your will that you want this action performed (for example, notifying everyone in your friends list), and we would need a copy of the will and any other verifying documents we deem necessary.
You can read the whole page over on the Second Life wiki for more questions and answers. This page was last updated on February 12th, 2016, so the policy is up-to-date.
Well, I guess I better start drawing up that list of names and contact information for my will… thank you for alerting me, Oobleck Allagash of the Second Life Friends group on Facebook!