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    Posted February 26, 2010 by
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    Stories from Second Life

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    Having A Virtual Baby!


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     JaneyBracken has covered love, marriage and now babies in Second Life.
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

    As I travel in Second Life I see quite a few lady avatars who are expecting babies, yes it does seem a bit odd, well I think so, maybe I’ve never had that yearning to become an SL mum, so I don’t fully understand this prime instinct that some people have to want to experience giving birth virtually as well as in real life.  It is very popular though, you only have to look at all the stores dedicated to selling everything from baby accessories, maternity wear to actual babies.


    I teleported over to a dress shop the other day and as I landed in the teleport area a lady who I couldn’t see at first, told me to be careful not to land on her as she was pregnant.  When everything came into view I could see her there, with her large tummy, looking about 7 months pregnant.  You can either alter your avatar to the shape of being pregnant or you can buy the ‘tummy’ to wear, this lady had a scripted version that talked, it said things like ‘little johnny is kicking inside me’ The text is released now and again with different little sentences to let people know that the person is expecting.  Of course you can get all the right clothes to wear as your tummy expands, there is a big range, although your ordinary clothes will stretch with your avatar, but I suppose buying new ones is part of the fun.


    When I started looking around I was amazed at the lengths that people have gone to, to introduce all the paraphernalia of having a baby in SL.  You can buy animated poses of actually giving birth, even get the whole birth experience videoed if you want to!  You can prepare the nursery in your SL home in advance, there are beautiful ranges of furniture and baby accessories to suit any taste if you shop around.


    So what about when the big day arrives and you give birth to a virtual baby?  Well when I first saw SL babies a couple of years ago they were ugly and didn’t do much! Yes cabbage patch dolls had nothing on them!  However, things are a little more sophisticated now and babies are much more lifelike and scripted to move about making happy gurgling sounds.  The modern babies crawl, follow you, sleep and play in the crib, you can feed them, and even change their diapers.  Some are custom made, so I should imagine you can have the baby looking as close to you and your partner’s colouring and features as you can get it.  You can wear a hud (heads up display menu) with some babies, to change the position you are holding him or her and various other things.  I even saw a breast-feeding kit in one store, so they have covered most things.  Some of the accessories are well done, little buggies that you can push the baby in, cots with mobiles hanging over them with tiny teddy bears and little animals, baby carriers so mums or dads can walk around SL with their little ones strapped to them.  Even diapers and packets of baby food, it’s all there, available for the SL mum and dad.


    Some of my friends have gone for the baby experience, some carrying it all the way through the pregnancy, right up to the birth and then the baby being added to their SL life.  In fact some go on to adopt real life ‘avatar babies’, although these children are adults taking on the role as tiny tots, nothing underhand though, no child porn, just people who want to be children and have a simple uncomplicated virtual life and be part of an SL family.  Some people have only wanted to experience the pregnancy and never bother with the baby bit at the end, they just want to get the attention I suppose.  Others don’t bother with the pregnancy and just buy the baby, for them the shortcut is a good idea, I bet some people wish they could do that in real life!  Maybe some of the pregnant girl avatars I have seen have been men wanting to know what it’s like being a pregnant woman, you never can tell.  Of course the beauty of a virtual baby is the fact that you can just put it away when you decide that you have had enough, and don’t really want an SL child after all, I would imagine that is what happens to most of the babies, lost somewhere in people’s inventories never to be seen again.


    As for me, I can’t really figure it out.  I did make my avatar look pregnant and go travelling around to see if people noticed, I didn’t have the scripted text with the baby talk, so no one took much notice, but it didn’t feel right for me.  I think I’ll stick with my virtual Siamese kitten Max, he sleeps anywhere without the need of a cot or a buggy and runs around without me looking after him, but maybe I’m the exception to the rule, because there are plenty of SL shops doing very well in the baby business! It must be that human instinct that people want to act out, even if it is just virtual.

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