My friend Scott is a huge Second Life fan. At his New Year’s party we spent a tipsy few minutes in the kitchen where he explained why I should be interested in it, and about its various controversies — which interested me more. I went home and signed up, downloaded it, and spent the next several hours trying to walk in a straight line. I knew I’d never get laid if I couldn’t stop plummeting down ravines or unintentionally “flying” into the side of buildings.
If you’re reading this wondering what the hell I’m talking about, Second Life is an online multiplayer “game” where people log on, create animated avatars and interact in various ways. Most of what goes on in SL is sex, and I was impressed that they were so open about the sexual elements (even providing porn to watch and featuring a billion places to hook up), and had a refreshing all-gender, all-orientations-are-welcome attitude on every level of the interface. Nothing was candy-coated “for women” or sexist, and they totally seemed to understand that the users wanted to enjoy and immerse themselves comepletely into fantasy genders, shapes and fetishistic expressions of whatever really turned them on.
The problem is that I don’t have the time to play things like this, I’m on a Mac Mini so it doesn’t look right, and I don’t really need to find anyone to hook up with. Plus, you can’t really kill anyone, so as a game it doesn’t attract me. (You *knew* I was that kind of girl.) But I was really surprised and happy to find out that someone I’ve known for a long time works at SL — he’s been on training staff over the years at San Francisco Sex Information when I’ve lectured there. That at least in part explains the nonjudgemental attitude about sex, who has it, and how that permeates the landscape at SL. Like me, SL is a San Francisco native.
Computer-based fucking has been around since computers landed in consumers’ hands, and the hot and dirty hookup has been happening online since humans have been online. That’s the first thing I wanted to do on the web — see some sex, get off. So its no wonder multiplayer things like Second Life are emerging and becoming popular; there are new ones springing up faster than I can burn through two double-A batteries with a Japanese vibrator. Just check out qDot’s MMOrgy to get a sense of what’s going on here. It’s huge.
* * * * * * *
So (to name a few) there’s Second Life, Red Light Center (sound alert) and the nauseatingly overhyped (and unreleased) Naughty America (sound alert: also, will they go the way of Spend the Night?). But do any of them have what it takes to make users want to log on and fuck like bunnies? A zillion years ago (in web years) I wrote an article for AVNOnline about Flickr (popup warning) and how it could be used as an awesome social networking sex site — this was before Flickr had a lot of users and waaaay before they got bought by Yahoo and became conservative in their public photo filtering. The same thing happened of course to Tribe.net; they got taken over by a new regime that wanted to clean it up, increase clicks and pageviews and pander to conservative advertisers, thus ruining it for the majority of users who were there to find community, be sexual, and network and hang out. As adults. In the article, I posited that what we needed was “Tribe.net with gloryholes”. When Tribe tried to unsexify itself behind a bullshit 2257 legal screen, I certainly enjoyed ripping their (former) marketing director a new one when he tried to confront me at a holiday party last year.
So it was with a bit of dismay that I read Internet Life’s article The World of Digital Sex Games, which seems like little more than a Naughty America press release but is still interesting for a variety of reasons. Why is it like those oh-so-familiar regurgitated press releases that make up all of the content on sites like AVN? Because first off, the title is misleading; it’s only about one game. Too bad. It would be nice to have a real overview of all these games, and at least by someone who has tried them. And you pretty much miss the point if you don’t examine these games in context of their rivals. But what’s interesting (aside from the amazing fact that a game that isn’t even out yet got a 6-page writeup), is the way the game is explained and marketed — and here’s where my dismay comes in.
It’s difficult to peel away the author’s layer of attitude about sex to see what she’s trying to say but I think it’s a good indicator of how these games are going to be treated in the press. Which, as we all know, is vastly different than the users’ experience, attitudes and feelings. Here, we get the usual pastiche of “omg, someone put sex in the Sims!” and a lot of “heh-heh, sex!” The drama of the sexuality is overplayed and titillating, and down-to-the-bone heterosexual. There’s a pervasive attitude of the hookups leading to more — even marriage is suggested at one point. But what kills me is that tired old dead horse that just keeps getitng whipped and whipped and whipped — the pages of explanation on how they’re marketing the game toward women, and why they would do such a thing.
Because we need special marketing, otherwise we can’t come. Or, if the marketing is a little too forceful at first, or if you don’t move your tagline a centimeter to the right when we get really quiet, it’s going to take us longer to come in your face.
You know what I mean. My point is that the biggest flaw in the article is also the flaw in the game, and thus the flaw in marketing anything sexual “for women.” They state outright that they’re aiming at a female market to bring in more men; they’re also claming it’s a “dating site”. So they want it to be less “dirty” and crass to market to a wider, more mainstream audience (women). That softens it up — which is what ruins it, the perception of softening porn up with contrived relationships and Hallmark romance because us women are all just a bunch of pussies when it comes to fucking. We scare easy, like fillies, and our pocketbooks gentle down real good when you wave a “life partner” in our faces. As if. Yes, everyone wants love on one level or another, but everyone also wants to jack off on a fairly regular basis, and the two are not mutually exclusive.
Not to mention how, in my opinion, this all misses the point of online mmorgy games: these games bring us the promise of being able to be anything and anyone we want to in a sexual way — and this seldom fits in the confines of narrow mainstream heterosexual definitions. It’s like for these people sex comes in a holy hetero trinity of missionary, oral and anal. A big triangle on the playground. Which is fine if all you want to do is run around in circles all day. Most people don’t.
Anyway, Second Life seems to get it. Even if I can’t enact my Praying Mantis fantasies. I still wish I could find a Tribe.net with gloryholes. We’ll see who yells at me about this post when I’m onstage at the Sex in Video Games Conference next month.
* Image of Post Six Grrrl Rebel Hope via the Second Life Herald.
The post The literal virtual clusterfuck appeared first on Violet Blue ® | Open Source Sex.