Today, because it was easier than forcing myself to get back to work on BYOND, I gave Second Life a spin.

I often thought of Second Life as being the game which invited the players in to make their own world from scratch, and consequently was ruined because too many players are too immature to be trusted with the responsibility when given the anonymity of an online experience.

The reality was several times worse.

Basically, it comes down to the predictable evil of appeasing the almighty dollar without regulation. Lindens (the game currency) are honored at a real world monetary exchange rate. As you earn lindens by selling objects of your creation, or performing services, naturally people found the easiest path to do so was to directly attack the human pleasure center.  It doesn’t help that the engine is too kludgy to provide much entertainment outside of suggestive imagery.

In a subjective observation, at least half of the players seemed to be “working” — whoring their virtual self out for lindens. Nearly everywhere I went in the game, there was a sex shop on the corner, selling X-rated body parts and clothing. Many of them were streaming bootleg copies of porn flicks. (Frankly, it’s a miracle Second Life hasn’t collapsed under Napster-esque copyright infringement suits.)

(This movie was made in 2007.  I suspect that the sex trade has increased much more than 30% since then.)

There is a checkbox on the location search box to avoid finding “mature” content, but in practice it seems many locations are not properly flagged at all.  I mostly ran across all this naughty content because I was simply trying to find some other players to converse with – Second Life is nothing if not a virtual chat client.  Invariably, the most green dots on the map (representing players) turned out to be in red light districts, something I could only discover after being there.

Most people I did find weren’t in the mood to talk, they just dabbled with emotes or were completely idle: Lifeless.  The most innocent people I did run across were a pack of vampires near the greeting center and a collection of young geeks sitting around shooting the breeze.  Compared to most of the people I met in the game, I miss those geeks.

When I strayed away from looking for players, I did find a few good locations.  The “featured content” page attempted to steer players to more reputable hangouts, such as various dance clubs (though the “workers” tended to sneak in regardless).  I also found some nice Buddhist retreats.  Funny how there’s several dozen places for any search word related to porn, but when I used the word “intellectuals” there were less than 5 (and some of them were porn related).  Regrettably, most of the non-pornographic districts were ghost towns, merely artifacts of a bygone era.

Overall, it seems Second Life is thoroughly rotten to the core, a terrible simulation of unregulated cyberspace.  I’ve uninstalled it already, on the first day I installed it, simply because I’ve a policy of never keeping porn stored on my computer as I don’t need the temptation of easy access.  (Nor would I be likely to subscribe to Second Life, due to my policy of never buying porn since it provides capitalistic incentive to exploit human beings.)

One Response

  1. Really, it’s not even so much the pornography so much as just how poorly it’s presented within the engine. All these poorly rendered substitutes reek of quiet desperation, a dependence on lust to make a terrible life bearable, so deeply ingrained as to seem acceptable to make it into public exposure. (Or perhaps they’re just doing it for the Lindens, which isn’t much better.)


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