Monday, June 29, 2009

Avatars and Identity - a chat with Heidi aka Stylite

One of the fascinating parts about running a 3D avatar community where you can create your own virtual style is seeing the interaction between avatar and their owners real life identities.

To be honest, when Frenzoo first launched its beta, we weren't really sure what to expect but now we have built a community of members its interesting to see the actual behaviors at play.

Whilst there are many enjoying pure dress up, avatar roleplaying and fantasy elements, we have seen a LOT of crossover between real life and their 3D style on the site. I guess thinking about it it makes a lot of sense - the driver of self expression and showing a unique identity remains important in a virtual social environment as a real one.

Heidi Ulrich, one of the active members on the community under her avatar name Stylite (picture above) shared her thoughts:

Welcome, tell us a bit about yourself in real-life?
Hi! I'm a 25-year old girl from The Netherlands. In daily life, I'm a student in the field of Concept Design. I'm about to graduate, and then I'll be Bachelor of Arts. But I'm interested in far more than arts only. I'm often busy with computers and graphic design and I try my luck on all kinds of hobbies, like dancing, singing, photography. Lately I have developed a 'passion for fashion'!
How did you find out about Frenzoo?
Recently, my mom started a blog. To support her, I read every little piece she wrote. One day she blogged about having entered a summer dress design contest. Eager to join, I Googled for the contest. was the first hit. I forgot about the design contest and signed up :)

What attracts you to stay and get involved in this avatar community?
Well as I said, I like to try my luck on all kinds of art forms. I have tried clothing design in reallife, but me and my sewing machine don't go so well together. So my creativity was kind of blocked at that point, until I found Frenzoo. Another benefit is the 3D engine. I often work with 3D in Cinema4D and I have once done an attempt to create clothes with it. But there's so much technical stuff to overcome before you can start on the actual design - it just kills the spirit. On Frenzoo, the templates, the Unity engine: it's all there. I can focus on the design rightaway.

So is there a connection between your virtual character and reallife?
Yes, I think there is.

I had - and have - no wish to create a dream doll. My avatar is my dressdoll, and in a way, she represents me. The avatars are not dramatically skinny or have weird 'attractive' deformations. Lately, I have been playing with my avatars looks for a bit; I have tried on different hairstyles and clothes that I wouldn't wear in reallife. And now comes the funny part: by mixing and matching clothes on my avatar I have discovered some new styles that I actually fancy to wear in reallife. And, when I go shopping, I often see things that I'd like to customize for Frenzoo.

So you see, it works both ways!

Thanks a lot Heidi !

I'd love your comment on this or suggestions for future topics. Feel free to leave a note.

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