Bottom: Mariko today - Things get better and better
Mariko Nightfire is the name of my Second Life self. Mariko is also my name in real life (RL). In real life, I’m a Japanese-American girl from Hawaii, 19 years old, and a second year student attending one of the Ivy League universities in the northeast where I study economics. As an extention of me, so is Mariko Nightfire. But, she, fortunate girl, is the Mariko in Wonderland. Mariko Nightfire and I like to dance. Since I was a young girl, I have been learning and performing Hawaiian/Polyneasian dances and have danced professionally in shows. Mariko Nightfire and I love to shop. We are fashionistas. But in SL she, lucky girl, can afford a much better wardrobe than I can in RL. We began college as English/American Literature majors; but, have switched to economics. Mariko Nightfire can critically comment on a novel by Henry James and on the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve. We also have a keen interest in history, especially 20th century American history and America's revolutionary founding. We are politically conservative. Do not debate politics with Mariko Nightfire. She will hand you your head. Her ambition (and mine) is to go to law school.
Newbies are horrid creatures. They are ugly, clumsy, and walk funny. Everyone in Second Life starts out as a newbie, a new person. They are also known as 'Noobs'. Newbies are given a standard issue avatar (which is why they are ugly), some orientation on Orientation Island (to add to their confusion), and are turned out to fend for themselves in an alien virtual world. They are the homeless geeks of SL. In their destitution, they spend their days scrounging for freebies - mostly free clothes. Their freebie clothes are always of low quality (noobs don't know how to find the good stuff) which makes their appearance all the more horrid and all the more geeky. But newbies that remain in SL manage to progress and will eventually leave their newbie state. The fortunate ones are mentored by good samaritan residents of SL who extend charity to newbies out of pity for their wretchedness or, being appalled by their horridness, are selflessly acting to spare the world the ordeal of having to interact with newbie geeks. And we in SL all know how difficult that ordeal is.
When I left Orientation Island on my first day in Second Life, I was a pathetic sight. I walked like a member of the living dead (as do all newbies) and was dressed like a streetwalker courtesy of free clothing. I had attempted to modify the appearance of my avatar to make it look as asian as my real self. The results were tragic. I looked like a cross between the Dragon Lady and the Bride of Frankenstein. Conversations stopped when I walked into a room. As in real life, one's appearance affects one's opportunities and quality of life. So the first step towards leaving the newbie state and gaining acceptance is to spend some money and invest in your appearance. You may still be a geek, but you don't have to look like one.
Meeting Diana changed my virtual life. Diana is a lovely petite lady living in Beijing China and a dear friend. She is one of the most creative artists in Second Life specializing in shapes and skins. She is also a successful businesswoman in Second Life owning a number of stores in asian sims selling her creations (Sims are developed regions in Second Life. They can be commercial areas, residential communities, specialty areas, or even private estates.). Her clients are some of the loveliest asian women in Second Life, thanks to Diana's artistry. However, Diana is little known outside SL's asian community. She deserves a wider recognition. Shapes and skins determine the appearance of an avatar. A shape fixes your height, body dimensions, and the details and positions of your features - most importantly, your facial features. Skins cover a shape and provide the finishing touch and the avatar's visual personality. A good skin is a marvel ... a work of art.
Mariko Nightfire's look is a visual creation of Diana, customized to look much like my real life self. I actually see myself sojourning through Second Life. Truly, I feel like Mariko in Wonderland. And I now walk with a sexy sway. Like all great artists and entrepreneurs, Diana is constantly improving her creations. And Mariko Nightfire is looking ever better. She's a masterpiece.