You might be surprised to learn this, but in my 14 years of creating and styling avatars of various kinds in Second Life (see here, here, and most recently here for some examples of my weird, obsessive, creative little hobby), I have never created a furry avatar. All my avatars have been either 100% human or 100% animal—nothing in between!
Furries, of course, have been an active subculture in the real world as well as in virtual worlds for many years now. According to FurScience*, a website run by the International Anthropomorphic Research Project (IARP), a multidisciplinary team of research scientists studying the furry fandom:
The term furry describes a diverse community of fans, artists, writers, gamers, and role players. Most furries create for themselves an anthropomorphized animal character (fursona) with whom they identify and can function as an avatar within the community. Some furries wear elaborate costumes or paraphernalia such as animal ears or tails, or represent themselves as anthropomorphic animals in online communities such as Second Life.
Furry fandom is an inclusive term that describes the community of furries that span online, local, and international settings. The furry fandom is global, with hundreds of local groups existing worldwide and dozens of conventions held annually.
Of course, since the coronavirus pandemic started, furry conventions in the real world have been cancelled around the world. But, of course, that doesn’t stop the vibrant furry communities and clubs in the virtual world of Second Life! In fact, aside from possibly VRChat, I would be hard pressed to think of a single social VR platform or virtual world that has as many furries scurrying around than SL.
So I decided to begin exploring the rich and sometimes crazy world of furries in SL. This will probably be the first post in a series of blogposts as I wander the grid in search of what makes furries tick. Did you know that one of Second Life’s oldest communities is Luskwood, founded in 2003? It’s still a popular hangout for furries to meet and chat. In my recent travels, I have seen a lot of weird and wonderful places and some truly outrageous avatars!
One thing that I have found very interesting is that (with rare exceptions such as Bray’s Place), for the most part, human and furry avatars do not tend to mix. You can go many popular clubs in SL and never run into a furry, and likewise, you won’t find many human avatars on sims catering to furries. In this respect at least, like tends to mix with like. In fact, some sims explicitly request in that you present as a human avatar.
Many experienced virtual furries usually start with a human mesh body (such as Maitreya Lara, Signature Gianni, etc.), and then go shopping for additions such as skin appliers, paws to replace human feet, and (of course!) tails. Often, dedicated virtual furries will combine components from various and sundry vendors, in order to create a unique, one-of-a-kind avatar that they feel best represents themselves.
Me, I just did a quick search on the SL Marketplace, and after a cursory exploration of the wide variety of options available, I decided to buy an Anthro Wolf avatar from Spider Productions (here’s the SLURL to take you directly to the Anthro Wolf vendor panel, just right-click on it your inventory, select Show on Map from the menu that pops up, and follow the red arrow!).
The nice thing about the Anthro Wolf package is that it is a complete avatar package; you do not need to hunt around to assemble components from different vendors such as feet, ears, tails, etc. There’s little fuss and bother. It’s perfect for a newbie furry like me! Even better, you get both male and female versions of the wolf avatar in the same package if you want to be a true gender bender!
Here’s what my male wolf avatar looks like after choosing a fur colour and eye colour from the included HUD, and making a few tweaks to the default head and body sliders:
The Spider Productions Anthro Wolf avatar costs L$3,250 (instead of going to the in-world store, you can buy the Anthro Wolf via the SL Marketplace), and the full-permissions T-shirt and shorts cost L$300 each, for a grand total of L$3,850. You don’t need to spend a penny extra, and you’re all set to go!
Now, I am going to share with you news of some fabulous freebies available to both furries and non-furries alike at a store called Positive Wavelength. Located at the centre of the in-world store is Christmas tree with gift boxes underneath it:
Wander around the tree and check the floating text above the smaller gift boxes, which are wrapped in colourful paper. The floating text above them indicates what is in the box, and it might also say “(on cooldown)”.
These are very special giftboxes, that are on a four-hour cooldown. What that means is, only one avatar at a time can receive a gift…and then everybody else has to wait 4 hours before the next person can click on the box! I was lucky enough to win a Sinwave Bento tail, the full version which retails for L$450 in the store:
This tail comes with a HUD and a detailed notecard, explaining how to set it up and get it working. You can choose from a mind-boggling 23 different shapes of tail and tint it any colour you want (it supports tintable Bakes on Mesh layers!). Here’s a very short video of it in action (there’s no sound):
This is definitely an upgrade from my original wolf tail which was included in the Spider Productions Anthro Wolf package—fluffier, infinitely tintable to match whatever colour fur my avatar is wearing, and with many more animations to choose from, including special animations when your furry avatar is walking or running!
In addition to this wonderful furry tail, there are other fabulous free gifts if you are lucky enough to be around when the gift box is claimable. Among them are a wearable, animesh bear mount or a bear avatar, which are also available for purchase in the Positive Wavelength store if you are impatient:
Other gifts on this cooldown system include a ridable unicorn plushie and a unicorn plushie avatar. There is also one gift which is not on the cooldown system, which means that anybody can claim it without having to wait: a “noodle” animesh dragon companion which flies around your head, and is quite delightful!
So, head on down to Positive Wavelength and try your luck! Here’s your taxi.
*Thank you to Rainwolf, a furry acquaintance whom I first met on the RyanSchultz.com Discord server (who brings his signature purple wolf avatar into as many social VR platforms and virtual worlds as he can), who told me about the FurScience website!