I’ve been using Second Life (SL) recently in an effort to veg out a bit before I get busy at work again. It’s nice as far as chat programs go because while many people use it, it’s not hopelessly infested by bots advertising porn (i.e. like AIM chat rooms). I’ve been logging into SL on a semi-regular basis basically just looking for something to do. For those of you who don’t use it, here’s a typical snapshot.
You can’t tell from the pic, but the people in the “Elbow Room” are dancing. The dude in jeans in the foreground is “me”.
So anyways, my usual modus operandi is to log in and fly (yes, fly) around to arbitrarily chosen locations and see if there are any interesting conversations going on. Sometimes I’ll just open up the world map and randomly select a spot to visit, just to find something new. (Note: the SL world is huge — it’s population is on the order of that of Rhode Island). They say you can do anything in SL, and that may be true, but on my “random” explorations the most frequent things I encounter are related to people creating/selling either SL content or pornography. There are definitely activities for those interested in the arts or education or other pass-times, but for me they have been hard to find consistently. More often then not I end up logging out more bored than I was when I logged in.
Last night I was on my random patrol when I ended up in a quaint medieval-looking area. As I entered a window popped up that told me the rules of this area… Alot of it was pretty standard, though perhaps more strict than most communities. They had a lot of weird restrictions for visitors. It also kept mentioning something about slaves that I didn’t really pay attention to. What I did gather was that the residents of this area were into some kind of role playing game. “Cool” I thought, “I used to be into the RPGs. Maybe this will be neat.”
So I obtained a visitors permit for this area (something you don’t usually need to visit a new area) and proceeded with my regular exploration. The permit was publically viewable in the form of text that floated over my head reading “VISITOR”. Pretty quickly I ran into a woman named Jewell who was dressed in-line with the medieval decor… Jewell greeted me with some words I didn’t recognize as English, which I soon realized were part of a mini-language they had created for the RPG. “Cool” I thought, “this is probably too intense of an RPG for me, but I should still take a look around and see what it’s all about”.
When Jewell realized that I was not going to answer her unless she spoke English, she welcomed me to the area and offered to give me a tour. “Cool” I thought, “this could be fun. At least they are nice.”
When we were about to leave, another avatar came onto the scene. He was dressed as I would imagine a “fighter” in Dungeons and Dragons would have dressed, right down to the armor, sword, and hunting horn. Jewell introduced him as Adham and told me that he could give me an even better tour than her because he had keys to locations that she did not. “Cool” I thought, “I’m gonna get a VIP tour!”
I’m going to try to recreate the ensuing conversation.
Adham: Do you know Gor?
I had gleaned from the “house rules” that Gorean was the language they used.
Me: You mean Gorean?
Me: I apologize, I do not.
Adham: What are you doing here?
Me: I’m a visitor, I’m just exploring.
Adham: Why exactly are you here?
It’s very common in SL that when you tell someone you’re looking for something to do, they’ll ask you what your interests are and try to help you find a community that you’ll have fun in, so there wasn’t anything so odd about his question. Continuing on:
Jewell: Adham, why don’t you explain it to him, nicely.
Adham: Do you prefer domination or submission?
This one caught me a bit off guard, but I was willing to role with it. Something about slaves in the house rules crept into my consciouness for an instant and then was gone.
Me: I really haven’t tried either. So what do you guys do here anyways?
Adham: Are you interested in BDSM?
A few things started to make sense.
Me: (silence for 30 seconds or so)
Me: (meekly shrugs shoulders)
Me: (30 more seconds of silence)
Me: I’m.. not really sure… what I’m interested in. I suppose I should think about it and get back to you.
Adham: That would probably be best.
Me: Thank you for your time, have a good night. (begin to walk away)
Jewell: If you’d like you can add me to your list of friends and let me know if you have any questions.
Me: That would be fantastic! (Please don’t hurt me!)
I beat a hasty retreat. I don’t have any a priori objection to people participating in BDSM play, but it’s not something I’m currently interested in, and it caught me a bit off guard. At the same time, I didn’t want to insult anyone by overreacting. After all, I had essentially wandered into their ‘hood. A retrospective google search for the word “Gorean” taught me that there were clues about what was going on long before I had any inkling of what I had haplessly wandered into.
Has anyone else had anything like this happen to them?