I'm in the middle of conducting a series of interviews in Second Life at the moment and I have received so much help from the members of the Second Life Nekos forum and its founder, Stacia Villota. This morning I had the opportunity to ask a female Neko (cat people in SL) about links between the SL Nekos and cosplay. Yesterday evening I spent a good hour with a male Neko discussing both definitions of Nekos and different levels of role-playing, and the day before I had the opportunity to ask a female Neko about how she views her own way of being a Neko as well as how she sees the larger patterns within the Neko groupings. A few days ago, Stacia let me ask her what felt like a thousand questions and she gave me very thoughtful responses about being a Neko as well as the initiator of a community centered around the Nekos. I also have several interviews scheduled in the upcoming days.
My intention is to have three large chapters in my dissertation. The first one is a comparison between the Caledon, Star Wars and Gorean role-playing communities. My second chapter will focus on and try to describe the different ways of being Neko in SL, on community and identity building, both in forums such as the Second Life Nekos one and in RP contexts such as Midian City. My third and last chapter will focus more broadly on performance in SL, with, at least that is my intention, a lot of examples both from the more casual, everyday identity-building "performance" done by for instance Nekos who put on ears and a tail, not with the intention of playing a role but to "be" something or someone in SL, to the more organized RP that can be seen on the role-playing sims.
In my interview studies, partly done together with Rebecca Rouse at the Georgia Institute of Technology, I will therefore use two sets of questions, one that deals with the definition of Neko and the Neko community and another that focuses on the performative aspects. The first is in priority at the moment and I have to say that I really enjoying talking to everyone!