Not the RPG of Our Forefathers

22 Jan

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: Tal.

Me: Pardon?

Adham: Do you know Gor?

I had gleaned from the “house rules” that Gorean was the language they used.

Me: You mean Gorean?

Adham: Yes.

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: Okay…

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?


Posted by on January 22, 2007 in Entertainment



8 responses to “Not the RPG of Our Forefathers

  1. Jason

    January 22, 2007 at 4:23 am

    This is the best story about Second Life I’ve ever herd.

  2. zappoman

    January 22, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Great Story… By the way, couple things you should keep in mind, I thought I would share.

    Background: I am really good friends with the CEO of Liden Labs (Philip Rosedale), he and I worked together at RealNetworks years ago. Anyway, I say this only because it gives me a little bit of an insiders view on SL.

    Anyway, one thing about SL is that there are no bots… absolutely forbidden. All those people you interact with are real live humans.

    This is the one things that really amazes me about SL.

    I too have had similar (although not nearly as notable) experiences in SL as well… basically I’ve randomly stumbled into strip clubs, brothels, etc.

    Knowing Philip, this is totally in line with his vision for SL. He sees it as 100% morale liberty… he wants there to be rules of social interaction, determined by the users of the world… but he sees it as critical that freedom of expression (even of the sexual nature) is totally guaranteed.

    SL is very much in keeping with a vision he has had since he was a little kid, for a world where anyone can be anyone they want to be.

    It’s pretty wild stuff really…

  3. halfawake

    January 25, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    Zappoman — thanks for the comments. It’s really cool that you know the CEO of Linden Labs and can provide some of the inside perspective. I actually like that freedom of expression is preserved in SL (while prohibiting bots). That is what makes it nice. And I don’t mind the wild side being there at all — I was just caught off guard in this instance.

  4. zappoman

    January 26, 2007 at 9:41 am

    I realized that I should add one thing about bots and humans. My data may be old on this. I know that they recently released an SDK and maybe even some source code to the net, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone gets around the no bots rule soon.

    If you do run into a bot out there on SL, don’t blame me. 😉

    Anyway, have fun out there.

  5. halfawake

    January 26, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    In any case, it’s certainly not to the point where I can’t find a real person because the chat is constantly spammed by bots.

  6. weirleader

    January 31, 2007 at 1:33 am

    lol – funny experience! I could totally see it happening to me, if I ever get around to trying out SL. I’ve heard of it, but… well, don’t really have the time…

    If you haven’t noticed, I’ve barely been blogging any more.

    But it does remind me, there’s a good book out there by Neal Stephenson called Snow Crash that is closely linked with SL. (I’d say Snow Crash predated it, but I don’t want to offend anybody if I’m wrong). And while I’m getting further afield, may I also recommend Cryptonomicon, also by Stephenson. I think it’s on my top-ten list, but then again I’m a complete math-computer-geek (maybe that makes me a McGeek? 🙂

  7. anonymous :)

    January 24, 2008 at 2:38 am

    Oh god. Gor is like the red-headed stepchild of BDSM.


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