A few weeks ago I reported on Second Life's most popular roleplaying groups, as compiled through the in-world analytics of Louis Platini's Metaverse Business research firm. These groups counted 1500-8500 members, but NWN reader Hiri Nurmi argued that this data was missing the largest roleplaying community of all: Goreans, who roleplay within SL settings based on and inspired by the fantasy novels of John Norman. "The current estimate is that there's around 300 Gorean sims of one form or another (and growing)," Numri wrote, "many in small continents (such Saleria), actual numbers of players is a bit more tricky but the last estimate I saw was somewhere in excess of 70,000."
I asked Platini to check this, and he came back with a number that wasn't that large, but still quite immense:
"From the 220,000 [Second Life] groups I have discovered so far," he told me by email, "I found 710 groups with 'Gor' or 'Gorean' in the title. The sum of all members is 48818." He notes there's likely to be a lot of overlap, with many Goreans belonging to several groups; even then, that would probably put the total number of uniques in the 10K-20K range. In any case, it's a large contingency based around a decidedly adult fantasy narrative, controversial due to recurring themes of female slavery and male domination, often expressed in S/M imagery. As the above image suggests, it's also a well-realized and detailed world with its own social structures, competing clans, and emergent culture. I've been aware of Goreans in Second Life as far back as 2004; generally speaking, I think it's fair to say most of its members keep the larger SL society at a polite distance, preferring to keep within their own private island network. My surprise is how large they've grown since then.