Happy Birthday Kitti! - it is my avatar's third birthday today, and what a strange three years it has been in the virtual world. It was completely by accident that Kitti's rez day (the day she was first rezzed in SL - the day I first signed in - my avatar's birthday) falls so close to my real life birthday, and that both are so close to Hallowe'en, but what it means is that I get to spend a whole week feeling celebratory. Hurray for that!
I want to take a look at the word 'rez'. A rez day is, as I have already clumsily explained (and in brackets, no less), effectively an avatar's birthday, and is the term used in SL to mean the day an avatar first appeared in the virtual world. The date is marked on our profiles for the world to see, and acts as an automatic and completely passive way of letting other SL users know that if you're looking a little blocky and you only rezzed for the first time last week, you might well be in need of a little help without you having to pluck up the courage to ask for it. Otherwise, it serves as a talking point when you've run out of things to say to your SL friends ('Oh, wow, so, yeah, looks like I've been in SL for three years now!' 'Yeah, what are you doing with your life?' 'You think I'd have learned how to edit prims better by now' etc).
Whilst I am not the most widely travelled gamer, I have never heard the term 'rezzed' used anywhere beyond Second Life. In most other games, characters and monsters are 'spawned', which suggests something entirely different in terms of the way they are propelled into the virtual landscape. When I put 'rez' into Google, the only definition I found that wasn't trying to sell me something was an entry on the SL Wikia (here!) that suggests the term was pinched from the film Tron, but it doesn't offer anything else by way of explanation or origin.
I haven't seen Tron to know if that connection should provide me with more information, so everything I say from now on might be even more obvious and/or made null and void by that film.
It seems a little obvious to suggest that 'rez' would appear to be an abbreviated version of 'resurrect'. When we log into Second Life, therefore, we resurrect ourselves from the first life into the second, as if our bodies and minds in the first world were now dead or obsolete, or perhaps killed in the transition. The logic there would be obvious if SL was a little more immersive, but we still become somewhat 'dead to the world' when our concentration is focused on the computer screen. When we are not signed into SL, our avatars vanish from the plane, banished, perhaps, to Virtual Purgatory until we log back in, when our first life selves resurrect them and bring life back to their intangible bodies. Upon logging out, our avatars are banished to the non-realm again to await our return. We are necromancers, using what our ancestors would have seen as black magic to reanimate a body we have conjured again and again and again. That, or we are ghosts...or our avatars are ghosts...I haven't decided yet. Either way, we are unsavoury and ghoulish types.
'Rez' is a loaded term, suggesting death and life and reincarnation and planes of existence and non-existence, and yet we use it without much consideration of what we are implying about our relationship with SL. And we will continue to do so - but I thought it made for an interesting and nicely sinister post for Hallowe'en.