Once Lizzie Klein found IMVU, a website that curates virtual worlds, the game had changed. Over the course of her using the app, she found tons of virtual worlds that had really inspired her. Here, in her own words, she explains what she found so interesting, and how it all came together.
For more on Lizzie Klein, check out her book, Virtual Memorials!
but first, check out her blog below!
LK: A few years ago I got really into playing on IMVU, which is a virtual world that’s been around since 2004. Mostly I make little 3d stuff/outfits but for a while I’d also do big deep dives on different things to go through stuff people uploaded over the past 18 years. Everything in the app is user made, so people have been uploading 3D clothes, accessories, furniture, food, etc since 2004 and now it has the largest library of 3D models on the entire internet. IRL trends and products have always been remade 1:1 in the metaverse so there is a massive virtual archive of almost everything that’s been culturally relevant since 2004, as well as tons of hyper specific, personalized items. There’s even a 3D Red Lobster! At one point I just tried typing in random first names hoping to find customized personal blog type chat rooms and objects. Unexpectedly, I ended up finding dozens of virtual memorials. The memorials are all 3D chatrooms that are basically totally decked out shrines to different people. I’m not completely sure what they are or what they mean.
Within the app, there is a culture of suburban family roleplay where users split off into couples and families and designate familial roles to each other. There are virtual weddings, ultrasound clinics, hospitals, pre-schools, family restaurants, baby avatars, and even pregnancy morphs. I have spent a huge amount of time on the app and I haven’t seen virtual death be apart of the every day role-play, but I can’t rule it out. I took screenshots of a bunch of the memorials and put them together into my book Virtual Memorials!