Thursday, June 7, 2007

Roleplay and that "other" kind of play

In an earlier rant, my tangent was the conversion of Fullton High School to Fullton University. Good ol' Fullton High. There I am (above), in my pretty formal, just before prom. The last night Fullton was a high school. The next morning, it was a university and I had aged two years. Overnight!

Was THAT ever a shock. A lot of stuff happens to a girl's body in two years. Alas, not that much outwardly changed for me, but my friend Jenny woke up with boobs the next day. Ah well, as an old friend once told me, more than a mouthful is a waste.

What, you might wonder, precipitated such a cataclysmic temporal shift? Did Kronos wake up on the wrong side of the bed and blast two years of time from existence? Did we plunge through a black hole into some strange warping of the space-time continuum? Was H.G. Welles involved? No. What happened was that two consenting adults had cybersex.

Stop the presses. Two consenting adults had cybersex?

Yes they did. But they did so with at least one of them wearing an avatar that looked like a child. And they did it with a German reporter looking on. And the German reporter wrote a little piece about that "other" kind of play .. a story that got picked up on the wire and made Linden Labs look bad. International furor over child pornography in second life. Cross cultural condemnation of that vile den of child molesters.

Now I am the first to become enraged when children are exploited by adults. I think that when an adult takes sexual advantage of a child it is rape. I find myself nodding in agreement when there is talk of mandatory castration for child predators. I am not so upset that sex offenders in the USA get smacked with an unconstitutional registry after serving their sentence. Civil libertine though I am, I will not carry a banner for their plight.

So when it happened in Second Life I .. um .. wait just a cotton pickin' minute. What child was exploited by what adult? Oh, that's right, there were no children involved. Just adults pretending to be children. You may think it is depraved. You may find it disgusting. You may wonder why anyone in their right mind would WANT to do such a thing. But you cannot call it child molesting. You must call it sexual activity between two consenting adults.

As a result of these two adults having cybersex, all sorts of things changed in Second Life. The change that affected me was the abrupt shift from high school roleplay to university roleplay. I loved high school roleplay. I could travel back to those innocent days when I was not yet a woman, but no longer a child. I could use roleplay to work through some of the emotional turbulence of youth within the framework provided by experience and age. It was like being in a high school play. It was nostalgic, it was fun, it was challenging.

And it is gone.

You see, there was a sexual undertone to Fullton High School. Of course there was. There is a sexual undertone to real High School. News flash: real teenagers have sex. But in the case of Fullton High, it was more about innuendo than hopping on poseballs (no offense to the headmistress, but the poseballs were kinda lame). It was mature innuendo .. sophisticated, funny and quite honestly sexy. Why? Because everyone involved was presumably an adult. But rules is rules, and either the poseballs or the high school had to go - and well, just to be safe, the high school had to go. One never knows when a reporter from the Sudetenland might be lurking in the halls.

The problem with university roleplaying, unfortunately, is that most people in SL are either presently attending college or relatively recent college graduates. Why roleplay what you do in your First Life? And as much as college is about "finding yourself", the really deep emotional stuff happens when you hit puberty and your neuroendocrine system goes bonkers on you.

In seriousness, I respect Linden Lab's decision to crack down on it. Bad press is bad press, and LL wants the world to have a positive image of Second Life. I suppose what I resent is that we live in a world where everyone thinks what happens in the bedroom (or chatroom) of consenting adults is the business of the General Public. But you know what? Its not.

O.K. I'll make an exception for Ted Haggard's gay crack-whore thingie. That was too funny to keep behind closed doors. I'm sure congress would be busy writing up constitutional amendments against gay crack-whore marriage if they weren't so busy trying to get in the pants of young congressional pages.

That's the other other kind of play.

(c) All Rights Reserved. Copyrighted (June 2007) by Magdalena Cazalet.

Any unauthorized reproduction of any portion of this blog without written consent is against the law and considered theft.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Observations of a Second Life Newbie

Look at me. Newbie girl! I think I lasted about two hours on Orientation Island. Yeah yeah.. follow the arrows, learn to fly, do some unclear torch lighting quest that doesn't work, piddle around with my shape. Check. Let me the hell out of here! Too many goddamn newbies toddling around. Y'know .. like me.

So I click whatever it was that needed clicking to leave the starting place forever and get dumped into Hell - literally. There must have been a thousand gray unrezzed avitars slogging around in this strange purgatory I found myself in. I could not move. I could not speak. I could not see. I thought - WTF? (for the uninitiated, that doesn't mean "World Transoceanic Flight") Second Life my ass. More like Second Death.

But it was an interesting purgatory. There were strange gray shapes that looked like fox women. "Hmm" I thought to myself "have I stumbled into a casting call for Disney's Robin Hood?" There were males and females (all gray of course) of all shapes, sizes, species, and presumably colors, if only I could see them. It was like a great soup of diversity.

So instead of shutting down in frustration and ending my Second Life there and then, I tinkered around with the menu until I stumbled upon teleportation. And at last my Second Life truly began.

The first thing I learned is that there are people (avatars) everywhere in this place. You cannot walk 10 toddling steps (sans animation overrider) without bumping into another person. And they are people of every nationality, speaking almost any conceivable language. A true melting pot of abundant diversity and humanity.

The second thing I learned is that if you have a sexy female avatar (check the picture above - not too bad for a 24h old noob, eh?) everyone wants to have cybersex with you! Before my avatar had existed for a full turn of the clock, I had countless people (mostly male avatars) offering "friendship", giving me money (hey .. maybe I'm onto something here), and sending me IMs (instant messages) that lit up my screen like a switchboard. Jesus, was that annoying! A piece of advice to people who are men in First Life: Want to know what a pain in the ass it can be to be a woman? Create a female avatar, buy some hot clothes, give her big tits. Good luck getting your summer reading done, dude.

The third thing I learned is that there are essentially two social classes in Second Life: the Freebies and the Premiums. I was a Freebie for a very long time. These are people who will not provide Linden Labs with a red cent. Second Life is great because it allows you to join for free. But it costs money to have fun in SL. You have to buy clothes, you have to pay to get into certain groups, you need dough to rent or own a place to live. Enter the Premiums: people willing to give LL around 100 USD each year for the privilege of owning virtual land. They also get a tiny stipend of Linden Dollars, which quite frankly is not enough to really have much fun with. So even Premium citizens have to come up with extra dollars.

So I did what all newbie freebies did: Camp!! Yes, you can actually get paid a trifling amount to sit in a chair all day long. Landowners do this to increase the apparent interest in their property. Campers do it so they can save enough money to buy that new prim hair. It only takes about a week of camping to do so. For cheap hair. Can you believe I did this? Instead of growing my character, meeting people, discovering new things and new experiences, I sat in a fucking chair all day long. In retrospect, there is something dehumanizing about that. Rats in Skinner Boxes. Shit. Perhaps Second Life is more like First Life than it seems.

The fourth thing I learned, once I dropped a relatively small amount of RL money into the place (thereby ending my enslavement to the camping chair industry) was that if you want to have sex in Second Life, there is always someone (and usually multitudes of someones) free and ready and willing .. and almost all of them are talentless, insulting, degrading, unable to spell or string three words together into a meaningful sentence .. and altogether not sexy. Do a search for the places with the words "orgy" or "sex" or "fuck" and a huge list of places comes up. Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Yeah, its real exciting to watch a bunch of people with newbie avatars and freebie penises (freakish looking gigantic things that bump into people as they stumble around) walking around saying sexy things like: "u want 2 fuck?" Mmm... baby. Where have you been all my life?

The fifth thing I learned is that if you sift through the multitudes of mediocrity, there are people living Second Lives who are absolutely astonishing in their intellect, creativity, personality, humor, depth and humanity. I have met some of the most intensely beautiful souls in this second world. Unchained from the encumbrance of First Life responsibilities and baggage, these angels take flight and soar to new heights of existence. It is these fine souls who will occupy most of my attention in this blog.

(c) All Rights Reserved. Copyrighted (June 2007) by Magdalena Cazalet.

Any unauthorized reproduction of any portion of this blog without written consent is against the law and considered theft.