Information Week on Sex in SL.
I was sent this link, and have read it. My reaction first was, yes, and? AOL is an empire built on the chat room, which is about sex.
The interview with a Madame, however, made me smile, the words rang so true, about how sex is mental, and how in sl, we have to be experts and creating that illusion with words and tools inside of sl. As with many madame's she charges heavily for the times she goes out, simply because it is more worth her time to get another girl working, than it is to work another man. The damsel in distress routine is effective and not effective, it gets a very particular kind of client. But this isn't a criticism: every girl out there should think about who her man is, that is the kind of man who is drawn to her. As man types go, hunting for the knight in shining armor is a fairly good idea. They tip well, they are protective, they respect limits, and they are often willing to do more than their share of the work. One of my first large tips in SL came from that sort of man, at the time I had 30L on me, and when 500L was dropped on my head, even though I wasn't much of dancer, it was almost a flood of relief that was better than any orgasm.
Another part of the interview that rings very true:
I asked her how she started doing nude photography in Second Life. "i found myself in very early Second Life, and all my friends were artists and builders and i have no talents and no skills," she said in text chat. "i don't have [PhotoShop]. i had to come up with something so i decided that sex sells and so i would sell rather tame sexual images." PhotoShop is used by the most skilled builders in Second Life to make their creations more beautiful and lifelike.
Oh yes, indeed. How is it in a society where women are supposed to be equal, that we have made a virtual world where the best entry level job is.... escort.
And then another important piece of wisdom:
Murphy said she became a domme in Second Life after having had real-life bisexual encounters when she was younger. "here in sl the bisexual thing is so much easier to fall into. by its very nature, the anonymity and the simple fact that for a couple of years guy avs [avatars] just were not very good," she said.
On sl, there are lots of guys, and few men. It is harder to make a good male avatar than good female avatar. I've seen male avatars spoiled by being infantile in their behavior, despite good looks. The problem with males on sl, is that most of the really good ones, are in-vis-i-ble. They are off building, or playing, or designing, or setting up companies. The ones who have the time to hang around, well, are very often the ones who don't worry about any errection except the one they attach.
But the bisexuality component is also interesting, I joke that lesbianism is SL's fastest growing religion. RL there are physical barriers, including the processing of scent, to bisexuality. In SL, all the signals that lead to it: lack of good men, physical attractiveness, consern and help, closeness and the need for intimacy, are heightened, and the barriers are dropped to almost nothing. Hence, far more female/female relationships turn sexual. I had a very straight friend of mine point out that on sl, the more subtle forms of touch are not there, so "hot kissing" is what the game offers for women to be physically affectionate. To my experience, the slow dance and the hot kiss are very persuasive.
Now for the question of the economy:
Reuben Steiger, founder of the Second Life business consultancy Millions of Us, made an estimate famous in the Second Life community, that sex accounts for 30% of the Second Life economy. He later said the estimate is arbitrary, absurd and altogether meaningless.
Let's face it, there's adult content in SL. Does it matter what percentage it is? I guess I'm often struck by how rarely I encounter it, but I think that sort of reinforces the point we often make to clients concerned about their brands in an environment with adult content. We simply ask whether they have offices in New York City (they do) and ask whether their customers get confused because New York is also home to adult clubs (they're not).
But as my picture shows, the reality is that while "area" is small, the concentration of sex is large. NEva Naughty sells sex beds, and has an orgy room. Phat's is a hook up place, the best on SL, and advertises itself as "romantic and sexy". No escorts please. Money island is camping.
If you go through the list, camping and sex dominate. And often the two go hand in hand, where sex camping is the order of the day. If you think about it, an orgy room is just camping where you don't have to pay.
So the question of how much of sl's economy is sex is "a great deal", since many other products, such as skins, furniture and so on, are meant to be part of sex. Also, if we look at individual homes, these are not tagged as "mature" even though couples have virtual sex in their virtual homes.
My last tangential reaction is that if he really wanted to get into the world of sex in sl, he should have looked more deeply at the part that was missing. He talked about the madame, and the sexual adventurer, but a great deal of sl sex, like rl, is about long term couples. People buying houses, and one part of that house is a sex bed, but it is only part of their creating a life together. Beyond SL sex as an activity, and beyond sl sex as economy, there is sl sex in the role of social and personal glue. A trip to Phats and a few dances, plus some reading of profiles, would have told him that finding sex partners is a large part of their reason for being on sl.
In this he missed, I think a key point. The most important part of sex on sl, is that sl is a very sexualized place. The standard for avatars is sexy, the reason many people came to sl is to explore not only the sex acts that interest them, but the sexual culture that interests them. He mentions slave owning, but glosses over the importance of BDSM culture to sl.
It is the sexual culture of sl that is more fundamental than all of the pose balls, and all of the dance halls. This crops up in the article when he touches on the quesiton of whether companies should have a presence in SL - is it too sexualized?
The answer here is no, in fact, rather the reverse. The people who are going to remake avatars, set up corporate image, and in general be the liasons between sl and companies coming in, are going to have cut their teeth in the skin trade, or by making things for the sex. Animations, skins, avatars, builds - you name it, the place to "earn while you learn" is the sex trade. Without the skin trade in sl, there would be no corps of quality builders.
It is a good article, but it doesn't get to the heart of the question, and that question is whether the rl culture which is predicated on sexual frustration and titillation, can survive meeting a culture whose basis is sexual display, and instead of presenting mainstream conformity to the world, rather much the reverse. Just count the number of "mainstream" style clothiers on sl that have their take on Gorean silks....