I was a heavy user of Second Life back around 2006, even attending the convention in San Francisco that year. But nowadays I only log in once a year to cash in my Linden dollars in order to pay for another year’s premium membership, as I can’t quite bear to delete my account yet. As an early adopter I still earn those virtual dollars at a good monthly rate, and I don’t feel too guilty about this, as I used to pay real money every month for virtual real estate.
One of my biggest regrets, even after I stopped paying for extra tier (land), was giving up my First Land for a prefab house for premium users that I can’t remodel. Even with very limited “prims” to build with and surrounded by not-so-fresh real estate, that First Land was mine, and I should have kept it.
More to the point of your post about avatars, one of the things I enjoyed doing with my avatar (who was female, as I was assigned myself before my later gender transition) was to shop for and play with different hairstyles. I’ve had hair issues my entire life, so being able to pop on a new look instantly was satisfying. And unlike The Sims, I could change my height too! (Disturbing to read that some would abuse that feature for illicit sexual purposes.)