Wednesday, April 01, 2009

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Second Life of Gor: Nearly 50K Gorean Roleplayers In SL?

Wolfsaber by chrissou subagjaImage credit: Gorean Clan "Wolfsaber" by Chrissou Subagja

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.

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Ciaran Laval

If you're only counting groups with Gor or Gorean in the title then the number will be lower. They don't always use those words in the title. However of course there is the offset of alts and accounts that no longer login but Gor when I see it, they do it big, they like homesteads and full sims and build communities...admittedly I don't delve that deep into it.

Arwyn Quandry

This doesn't surprise me. A lot of SL Goreans, from what I've gleaned by reading their main message board, are immigrants from IRC, Webmaze, and Activeworlds, all of which house huge communities. I find it amazing that even though those novels were written starting back in the 60s and the fact that Norman is a bit of a recluse, still people all over the web use Gor as part of their worlds and fantasies. The writing is pretty terrible, but the fantastically detailed culture makes it perfect for roleplay, which is probably why there are that many in Second Life.

JeanRicard Broek

Do a search on "silks" in SL or Xstreet and you will get a better understanding of the size of the community and the economics then from looking at at groups with Gor in there name.

CyFishy Traveler

Goreans flourish in Second Life for the same reason that Furries do--because it provides a space where they can participate in their subculture in vivid detail without having to worry about upsetting the neighbors.

Rika Watanabe

When I went on a survey of all the small continents of SL (Small continent being defined as an uninterrupted cluster containing at least one 3x3 patch of sims, that is not mainland, which is an uninterrupted cluster containing a 6x7 patch of sims), Gorean locations were the most common after English-speaking residential rentals.

Arcadia Codesmith

"...female slavery and male domination..."

The obverse, male slavery and female domination, appears to be a much more prominant theme in the SL Gorean community than it is in Norman's books, from what little I've observed.

"its members keep the larger SL society at a polite distance"

The reaction of the 'larger SL society' to any sort of roleplaying ranges from utter cluelessness to outright hostility and ban-on-sight policies. Add in random horndogs who just don't get it and never will, because their brains are located somewhere south of their belly-buttons. That 'polite distance' is a civil form of self-preservation.

CyFishy Traveler

I once teleported into a Gorean sim quite by accident--it was a stop on the FashCon HUD tour, but it's possible the landmark was out of date. I was promptly handed a detailed notecard with a long list of rules and regulations for how to behave and dire warnings of bannings if I didn't adhere to those rules. I laughed and teleported elsewhere.

I don't know if I'd call it a "civil form of self-preservation" as much as not wanting to deal with people who are Not Playing. Which, you know, I can understand--it does rather wreck the illusion to have a guy in jeans and T-shirt wandering through if you're doing an elaborate steampunk roleplay, for example--but extreme pretentiousness tends to be a magnet for griefers.

Arcadian Vanalten

Or overall indifference. Don't forget that :D.

Many of us just aren't into the whole dom/sub thing, regardless of quasi-medieval setting. I don't have anything against it, but I'm not into it, either *shrugs*.

They are not, however, a separate species or as segregaged a community as is often implied. I know a lot of Gor players, most of whom work as DJ's, hosts, dancers, designers, etc at other (non-Gor) places around SL. Gorean RP is just one more thing some folks like to do w/ their time.

And re: silks, dunno. Maybe it started in Gor, but it's sure not exclusive to it nowadays. Most of the clubs I DJ will occasionally have a Silks Night, just for fun, b/c they look cool.

kanomi

I'm surprised the Star Trek community isn't bigger in SL (although it is pretty big), because it has such a large fandom - larger IRL than Goreans, but smaller than them in SL (I think).

Then again, they have a Star Trek MMO to look forward to, whereas I don't see a Gor Online from a major publisher anytime soon. ;)

Viorel Daviau

Considering the "main site" mentioned above musters just under 2k souls. Realistically, not every Gorean player has an account there (I would stretch maybe 1/4 of the population as a semi-hail mary guesstimate), so roughly 8k sounds more reasonable, especially compared to 50k.

Even if 8k turns to be more accurate, the Gorean community is, without a doubt, the largest role-play realm within SL.

Ironically speaking, there are currently two grids being assembled (different projects) to support Gorean RP outside of SL. Of course with the current status of Opengrid, it won't be an attractive option for most, but yeah, the culture is really that popular.

Sitch

Hehe - I am a member of one of the highest traffic gorean sims on SL. I am a warrior. I always carry a bow and a scimitar. I own one slave. I have read 10 of Norman's books. All I can say is, that it is really fun to be Gorean. Its not always about male domination of women -- there are free women -- not just slaves. But its about battles to protect your home stone (city). Raiding and waring with other cities, and hunting panthers -- females, most likely escaped slaves who live in tribes and hunt to survive. No matter what anyone thinks, it is tremendous fun to act the part and to truly have a SECOND LIFE -- fantasy can be fun. If traffic is any indication of community - top gorean sims have traffic over 15,000 and there are probably at least 10 sims with this kind of traffic. Cheers.

Robertj Waco

One of the reasons I think Gor is so popular has little to do with SL. Gor speaks to us about something primative, something dark inside all of us.

The Gorean novels ARE BADLY written and although they do have some glimmer of a detailed world ripe for RP, it's the philsophy behind them that matters.

Not that "all woman are slaves" or that "males are better" but in the fact that it speaks to something deep, dark and hidden inside each of us. Something we know is true but may not want to admit.

That is way Gor is so popular.

Persius

It strikes me that these posts are missing the point.

I've never taken part in gorian sims and I've read only one book. but I have spoken to a number of women in SL who have taken part in gorian type sims as well as other similar SL groups.

I am a social researcher and when I first encountered members of these groups (group membership shows up on profiles) it made me extremely curious re motives.

They all seem to me to be quite strong women, independent and on the whole in real life in control of their lives. Some would even discribe themselves as being feminist, one or two have said to me that they are even active feminists. Their RL ages vary greatly and women in thier 50s is not at all uncommon, though this might be self selection on my part.

Those I have met are articulate, and clearly intelligent. many are divorcees and living alone.

When I ask why they take part they all say because it helps them to safely explore a side of thier lives that would otherwise be impossible.

I have concluded that its not about risk or even simple sexual gratification but more about experimenting with the ideas of trust, though clearly in a very limited way in a virtual world.

I think this phenomina requires much more study. It seems to point towards an disire for women, at least some women to surrender control within the context of trust.

cmlag

The reason Gor is separate in SL is because Goreans consider the rest of SL "Earth". In his books John Norman <-- not his real name, wrote about a planet on the opposite side of the sun. This is why Gor is sometimes referred to as the "counter-earth". He wrote and spoke about male dominant societies back when the women's movement was getting cranked up and he was criticized by his colleagues. Lacking support for his ideas he did what all professors do and wrote fiction about his ideas.

cmlag

One thing you might look at to understand Gor is to ask yourself "why do people go camping?" Sleeping in a tent for a weekend while you have a comfy home and soft couches seems crazy on the surface. Gor at least to me is getting back to things that allow me to use instinct. It's survival for me not a desire to submit. I have been in and out of Gor since 2005 in SL and never once wore a man's collar. I shoot pretty good though:)

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