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Virtual Memorials, 2019

IMVU is an online social metaverse that is made up of thousands of user-created 3D models and chat rooms. Its users have been making 3D clothes, chatrooms, accessories, furniture, food, etc since 2004 and now it has the largest library of 3D models on the entire internet. At its peak in 2012, IMVU had over 100 million members, a large percentage of who were making 3D goods. 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.

I spent months searching the archive and at one point I tried typing in random first names hoping to find customized personal blog type chat rooms and objects. Unexpectedly, I found dozens of virtual memorials. I’m not completely sure what these are or what they mean. Within the app, there is a culture of suburban family role play 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 definitively rule it out.

Mostly, the memorial rooms are dedicated to specific individuals, but some are dedicated to role-play groups, and some are general cemetery rooms who accept anyone. People can gift 3D models to the room admins and request that they add the models to the rooms. To keep a chat room online the admin must be an IMVU VIP member, which costs $10/month, so many have been lost.

If you decide to look for yourself, please be respectful and leave everyone alone.

You might notice that most of the chat rooms are rated out of 5 stars— app users are able to rank rooms and the star ratings are no reflection of my thoughts.

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