So what’s “average”?

This challenge begun by Strawberry Singh has taken on a life of its own over on Flickr, amassing, at this point, 309 members and 255 images (and they’re still coming in). As the project progressed, people kept wondering if their shape was normal, if their arms were shorter or longer than normal, and indeed what was “normal” — what the average avatar proportions were.

I decided to find out.

I looked at 220 female avatars and 32 male avatars (I did not count child avatars or doll avatars, but I did count adult furry avatars — I discarded their “head size” stats, though, because furry avatars set their head sizes at or around 0 to fit in prim heads, and that would have skewed the data). I created two spreadsheets: one for female avatars, one for male avatars, and gathered as much data as I could from the digits presented in the Flickr group. From the results of this data, I created an “average” male shape and an “average” female shape.

A caveat: the male shape is probably very inaccurate, because the male participants tended to report a wide variety of setting options. For instance, I don’t believe the body thickness is accurate, but very few of the slimmer male avatars who participated reported their body thickness, whereas most of the more muscular avatars did (only 8 out of 32 male participants reported body thickness). Similarly, only 6 out of 32 male participants reported package size.

Now that I have compiled all this information, I intend to go through and come out with some stats that are more useful than just averages, such as average ratio of leg to overall height, average ratio of arm to torso, and other such stats that should be useful for posemakers and clothing designers. It’s just going to take me a little bit, but I’m working on it. Promise. Edit: they’re up! Check them out here for female avatars and here for male avatars.

Average Girl is wearing:
Hair: Sadistic Hacker
Underwear: Blacklace
Skin: imabee

Average Boy is wearing:
Hair: Sadistic Hacker
Underwear: KOSH
Skin: kermes

The contents of this post are licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

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About Vaki

Seriously, Mega Shark v. Giant Octopus is a masterpiece of modern cinema. What? It has Deborah Gibson in it. And there's this one scene where...what? Oh, like there's something better than a mega shark leaping out of the ocean and biting a plane in half. Whatever.
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22 Responses to So what’s “average”?

  1. This is so incredibly neat! Thank you so much for doing this. 😀

    I plurked it and a friend mentioned in my plurk that these numbers would be great to use if you are making poses. I think a lot of content creators might find these numbers helpful. 😀

    • Vaki says:

      Oh yes, I imagine they’d be VERY useful for posemakers (of course, I hate to say that, because all those poses made for enormous guys and itty-bitty girls drive me batshit, but it does seem to be what works for most people!). I’m working on ratios now ,and I hope I’ll be able to get some charts and graphs up tonight.

      I really love that your idle speculation has turned into this huge project, allowing everybody to share what is arguably our most intimate SL aspect: our shapes. It seems only right to take all that sharing and derive something useful from it.

  2. Harper Beresford says:

    That is the kind if number crunching geekiness I love! Great work!

    • Vaki says:

      Ahaha, thanks, Harper! I will always be a geek at heart…give me a whole bunch of numbers and I’m all rolling around in them going yaugh yaugh yaugh.

  3. SarahTheRed says:

    Wow, what a fantastic idea! Our average male seems a bit oversized compared to our average female, but she’s beautiful — such a natural womanly frame.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the ratios, as that’s one area I struggle with.

    • Vaki says:

      I agree: I’m pleased with the “average” female shape. I suspect the “average” male shape would’ve turned out better if I’d had more male data to work with, and more consistent stats…but on the other hand, I do think it’s accurate that on the average, men in SL tend to run those height sliders way up (and end up with arms too short for their bodies, as my “average” guy has here). So…not entirely inaccurate.

  4. steffyghost says:

    This is a great idea. And yeah can be very helpful for several people. We always wonder if we are close to the average or not. Can’t wait to compare this to my own shape. 🙂

    • Vaki says:

      Yeah — it’s really turning out to be a very cool project! Of course, I’m pretty happy to look nothing like the average, but it’s still really cool to look into.

  5. So… females are going for the Linden proposed average for height and boobies, but want longer limbs and smaller hands. And they are skinny.
    Men see themselves as taller, average build but no fat. And, curiously considering the size of SL erections, with smaller than average packages…

    • Vaki says:

      Hahaha! Nice conclusions. But I’d stress that it’s hard to draw conclusions even from this, because this is still a limited sample size: it’s mostly drawn from the blogger / plurk / SLU audience (which is still pretty valuable, as that does tend to be a hefty purchasing base), not from the entire SL resident base.

      I do wonder about the packages, too, but I think one male participant made a good observation: any package larger than about 50 makes you look like you’ve got a scrotal hernia (P.S., guys: totally agree).

  6. What a wonderful post Vaki!

    I totally missed Strawberry’s blog post and the Flickr group – SO cool – yay!
    (psst: minor link typo – at the top of this post you link to Flickr, but it actually goes to “fickr.com” rather than “fLickr.com” and you get this annoying survey instead of the photo group)

    I’ve delved a bit into this space with the “Open Source Avatars” project:
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/os-avatars/files/

    http://vaneeesa.com/2010/07/30/open-source-vaneeesa/#comments

    Putting free & open files on SourceForge is perhaps the “official” way to make an “Open Source Avatar” but as all the posts attest, Flickr really has an amazing “Public Reach!”

    Anyway, your data really thrills me and I think I will write a blog post / performance “Previsulization” for a performance piece featuring “Average Men” and “Average Women” — perhaps making 1 “Average” to pass out… or perhaps even more interesting… since your averages cover 13 of the 76 male sliders and 12 of the 78 female sliders… it might be really interesting to give those numbers to peeps and let them make a shape with the body averages and their own features for the rest — so my (goofy) facial features, but on an Average torso… IDK how your content is licensed, but if it’s ok, I’d use your Average Avatars image at the top in my blog post (with credit link)

    Very exciting! 🙂
    I think I’d like to perform this on a Saturday in May in SL.
    So fascinating Vaki, Thank you!!

    — Vaneeesa

    • Vaki says:

      Vaneeesa,

      Thank you so much for catching the typo — d’oh! Fixed.

      For this particular project, other than the image and my exact blog post text, I do not consider the content mine or licensed: please feel free to use the data, sans attribution or other requirements, as you like. Thank you for asking about it, because that reminds me to Creative Commons-license this post and the upcoming one with the ratios and whatnot.

      So sure! Have at!

  7. Pingback: Previz: Average « I Rez, Therefore I Am.

  8. Hi again Vaki,

    I’ve written up our performance previz – “VB26 – Average” – and we’re going to perform it on the An Li sim on Saturday 30 April. We’d love it if you’d join us!

    xoxo
    — Vaneeesa

    http://vaneeesa.com/2011/04/21/previz-average/

  9. Very interesting to see what the average is. Thank you for taking the time and looking through all the posts to gather the information O.O

    Would be really interesting to repeat this project once a year to see how trends change because I am sure if this was done last year the numbers would have been quite different.

  10. Hi Vaki,

    Funny Question – do I know you in SL? 😛

    Our performance is tomorrow, Saturday morning at 10am SLT / 5pm GMT.

    I was going to give you our LM/Notecard giver thingy, but I can’t recall if I know your avatar name.

    TY! — VB

    • Vaki says:

      Huh, I thought my full name was on here somewhere. I’m sure it is, but damn if I can remember where it is. I’m Vaki Zenovka in-world — feel free to send me a notecard! I will try to make the performance, definitely. Thank you!

      Did you see the updated average avatars? They’re linked above — the digits didn’t change much, but they changed a bit and might be worth poking at.

  11. Pingback: VB26 – Performance Document « I Rez, Therefore I Am.

  12. Pingback: Previz #52 – Rubenesque / Anorexic | I Rez Therefore I Am

  13. Pingback: So it seems I have become a mesh snob.... - Page 2 - SLUniverse Forums

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