Behind the Avatar: IMVU IRL (In Real Life)

We live in extraordinary times. We are our own brands. Social platforms have fulfilled a desire for people to be seen and recognized — giving the illusion of influence and importance. However, there remains real life’s physical, financial, and geographical limitations in connecting with our friends and family.

After 13 years, IMVU has connected billions of friends through 3D chat and interactive experiences of their own choosing. Every friend request, message, and animated emoji is evidence that there is a person behind every custom avatar that wants to reach out and meet new friends. Though IMVU has done studies on the visceral connection between a person’s avatar and a person IRL (in real life), we found the heart and soul of our users behind the avatar, or as IMVU users say “BTA”.

The Stories

I was raised in a foster family, but I wanted more connection with people outside of my immediate surroundings. — @xxKatharaxx

“My name is Katreijn, but you can call me Kat. I was born in the Netherlands. My family died of a car accident. Being the only survivor, the rest of my family is unknown because my parents were war children of former Yugoslavia. From a young age, I was raised in a foster family, but I wanted more connection with people outside of my immediate surroundings. At age 18, I joined IMVU with the hope of finding a family via worldwide online chat. In the beginning, I met a woman named Encarnita, who had been on IMVU for 10 years. She told me a lot of stories about her life — being a great country singer, and a writer of drama, humor, romance, and action books. I was intrigued by her and I shared my story about how I lost my family to a car accident at a young age. She introduced me to another IMVU user, AnnaAurel, who worked as an interpreter all over Europe. The thought was that through AnnaAurel’s connections, she could possibly help me find some of my relatives, with not much luck at first. A year ago, Encarnita told me that she, AnnaAurel, and another friend, NickyPlatina, found out that I had a brother who was not in the car at the time of the accident. He was sick at home with babysitters and taken to another foster home after the accident. We reunited recently after 18 years of being apart. You see, IMVU is more than just a community of users who chat online, it actually makes the world a smaller place.” — @xxKatharaxx

Like reality, [IMVU] makes you see the uniqueness and greatness of people, of each outstanding individual. —@ Clemnestra

“We all think that the world is always about us. The drama, the farce and even the hilarity in it. I thought IMVU was an escape but I was wrong. Like reality, it’s a place where lost people wander. Like reality, it makes you realize that it’s not always about you. Like reality, it makes you see the uniqueness and greatness of people, of each outstanding individual.

When I started IMVU, I was like an inexperienced soldier thrown in the middle of battle. Never knowing where to stand and how to fight. I was completely lost and unaware of how things should exactly go. Until I met my best friend.

New and ignorant as I am, he taught me the rules of the game. He was kind and friendly. He cured my bewilderment. I learned even the simplest things from him. He opened my eyes so that I will learn the intricacies of IMVU.

But in reality, he didn’t live the life of an angel. He was bullied. He was scorned. He was hated. He felt so much pain. So much melancholy. He tried committing suicide. Contrary to that angelic face, he was living a life in hell. But he was a fighter. He was stronger than most people. Now he stands firm like a pillar because of the community of friends he met on IMVU. He is my best friend and I’m glad that I met someone like him.

The world is not always about you. There are people suffering more than you. Don’t misjudge them but learn from them instead. So be tenacious and turn your weaknesses into strengths because the things that can open our eyes are not exclusively bound on what we see but on what we learn from people and experience.” — @Clemnestra

[Creating on IMVU] gave me the opportunity to earn Credits to go towards making more products and continue the cycle of allowing me to set goals and challenge myself. — @VictoriaAlexandrea

“I started creating as a way to teach myself new skills, set challenges and to make things for myself to use on IMVU. As someone who was having a hard time teaching myself PhotoShop, let alone making good textures it was a long (and still is) frustrating process but so very rewarding! There was a wonderful IMVU group called “Dawning Developers” that I was a proud member of. They challenged me to make my own textures, provided honest and open feedback, and if there was something I couldn’t figure out, there was often a fellow member or someone who ran the group with an answer for me. It gave me the opportunity to earn Credits to go towards making more products and continue the cycle of allowing me to set goals and challenge myself. It helped with my self-esteem and the ability to create something I knew couldn’t be destroyed by my now 7 year old son!” — @VictoriaAlexandrea

In my opinion, this is what IMVU is about — creating a legacy of love and friendship, going beyond the avatar. —  @ZiziSky

“I met the most extraordinary friend on IMVU — Avatar Jacqui. Her purpose was that we all be happy and have pleasant moments together. She was full of ideas and always had new projects. She created rooms with different themes and we were all very happy to participate and even dressed up according to the occasion. If someone could not buy the outfits, she bought it and sent it as a gift. When unknown people entered the room she gave them presents and chatted with them. She was always happy and her laughter was heard. But the important thing was not her material generosity, what mattered was that she opened her heart to everyone. In my particular case she dedicated herself every day to teaching me to speak in her language, I think a lot of people would not do that; teaching another language in a chat room is not an easy task, but she proposed it to me and I was a grateful student. She was proud of my accomplishments and always commented with the others. In my opinion, this is what IMVU is about — creating a legacy of love and friendship, going beyond the avatar.” — @ZiziSky

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