Twitch is Technically Correct to Ban Second Life for Adult Content Focus & Graphically Nude Avatar Feature

Twitch's policy prohibiting Second Life streaming has caused a lot of outrage among some SLers, but that annoyance overlooks an inconvenient fact: It's technically correct. Twitch's statement says Second Life content "is sexually explicit, which is content we do not allow on our services". And in fact, the majority of Second Life's most popular sims are Adult-rated for extreme sexual and violent content -- look:

Second Life Adult content Twitch ban

Courtesy Louis Platini's Metaverse Business, these are the top 25 most active Second Life sims this month, listed by average avatar visitor count at any given period, visitor range, and previous position -- 13 of which are Adult-rated. So that's already a problem for Twitch.

Now let's look at the full statement from Twitch:

Content in [Second Life] is unrated and often sexually explicit, which is content we do not allow on our services. We also do not permit Adults-Only rated games and games where nudity is the core focus, feature, or goal.

Second Life is not rated by the ESRB, but if it was, it'd be rated Adults-only.

But what about the idea that nudity in Second Life is "the core focus, feature, or goal?" The fact that most popular Second Life sims are Adult-rated definitely suggests nudity is a core focus/feature/goal.

But here's an even more pressing point:

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SL Sex With a RL Lover - Jenn Frank's "All the Spaces Between Us" (Part 2)

Sex in Second Life

Originally published in Kill Screen Magazine and now serially featured in NWN with new screenshots and an afterword by the author, “All the Spaces Between Us - Struggling to Connect in a Pixelated World” is Jenn Frank’s deeply personal account of exploring Second Life and what she learned about identity, sex, creativity, life, and death along the way. (Read Part 1 here) -- Hamlet Au

When I asked Zachary if he wanted to have sex in Second Life with me, he said yes. He and I had been dating, rockily, for five years. He said he missed me.

I was in another state. I’d been living with my parents for a few months. I was getting scared. I still rented the apartment in San Francisco, and Zachary still had a pair of keys to it. He was taking care of my pets and plants. Maybe if he really missed me, he could let himself into the apartment and sit inside. He could even use the Xbox if he wanted. He could read my books. He could use the kitchen, he could use the shower and the toilet.

Sure, he missed me. So he said yes.

I explained that Virtual Amsterdam was a place that couples went, and that I’d—really! Really!—never been there before. But I’d read about it. We could rent a room?

Zachary said yes.

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RIP Eddie Escher, Pioneering Second Life Creator UPDATED: Added Short Video Documentary

Eddie Escher Chris Edwards Second Life

Fallingwater Cellardoor & Eddie Escher in Second Life, 2004; Alayne Wartell & Chris Edwards at his 40th birthday, 2010

Once upon a time, two shy but talented 3D artists met as avatars in Second Life, fell in love with each others' virtual creativity, and then finally, fell in love with each other, and moved across an ocean, to be together. In Second Life they were known as Fallingwater Cellardoor and Eddie Escher, and in 2004, they were among the world's best 3D artists. I wrote about how they met and fell in love then, but sad to say that Eddie, called Chris Edwards, passed away eariler this year, tragically just shy of his 45th birthday. Years before mesh or even sculpted prims, Eddie (a game dev artist by trade), showed how beautiful Second Life prims can be (see below). Fallingwater recently posted this sad news on the new Facebook group for longtime SLers, and since the story of their meeting is among my favorites, I wanted to share it here:

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"Happily Ever Avatar" Documentary Seeking UK-Based Love Stories From the Metaverse

6a00d8341bf74053ef017d4110665d970c-800wiJanine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

There's a documentary about virtual world to real world romances in the works and Back2back, the documentary company developing it, are looking for participants based in the UK to share their stories about Second Life, World of Warcraft and beyond. 

According to this quote straight from the casting call shared by Linden Lab, Back2back seem like they're interested in telling a fairly flattering story about virtual romances:

 The programme is a completely positive documentation of these relationships, where we look at relationships that have blossomed through online gaming, with players falling in love through their avatars and going on to have meaningful, committed relationships in the real world. It will look at unconventional relationships in a counterintuitive way, overturning many of our prejudices and misconceptions with honest storytelling. It will challenge us to realise that committed, successful relationships can embrace the unusual.

If you'd be interested in participating, or know someone who would be, get all the details from the original post from Linden Lab here.

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Cheating in Second Life Relationships Extremely Upsetting to Many SLers, Study Finds


Cheating in Second Life-based romantic relationships is extremely disturbing to the person being betrayed, a new study by a Belgian academic finds. This won't come as a shock to longtime SLers, but the study, led by PhD candidate Katleen Gabriels (of Vrije Universiteit Brussel), puts some quantified numbers to this insight. Surveying nearly 400 volunteers, both Second Life users (250 of that 400) and non-users, she explains, the researchers "asked to imagine as vividly as possible one of two scenarios: You are being cheated on by your actual partner, versus you are being cheated on by your partner in Second Life." Unsurprisingly, non-SLers were disturbed by the former scenario, but didn't react much to the Second Life hypothetical.

However, when SLers were asked to rate their reaction on a scale of "not at all" to "extreme", here's the percent who went with the strongest response:

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I Avoided Second Life Drama and Met My Real Life Fiance Instead (Comment of the Week)

Sylea Sygall Aplonis Ember in SL and RL

Second Life social drama and negativity can drive people away, as illustrated by last week's Comment of the Week, but in response, Sylea Sygall offered her own very contrary perspective, which is just as worth sharing if not moreso:

"I joined Second Life strictly out of curiosity in May 2008, very quickly met an excellent group of people who showed me how to navigate around the world, and in June of 2008, unexpectedly met the man who became my fiancee and after 5 years of long distance romance, facilitated by our 'life' in SL, I am marrying (in real life) this September.

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Play a Small and Strange Virtual World About "Silence, Love, and a Beach (in Space)": Welcome to Bientôt l'été

Bientot lete 2
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

If you have an open-mind and an appreciation for sci-fi love stories, terse conversations, and smokey cafés, have I got the game for you this week. In case the world of Proteus wasn't quite interactive (or visually realistic) enough for your tastes, you may want to take a look at Bientôt l'été from Tales of Tales, another artistic game experience for both Windows and OS X (with a free browser-based demo) that's received a lot of buzz since its release a few weeks ago. If you're unfamiliar, Bientôt l'été (Bee-ehn-toe lay-tay) is French for "it's nearly summer", and while the game features lots of atmospheric French voice acting, the text is all available in multiple languages.

In some ways it reminds me a bit of the multiplayer aspect of Journey, another incredibly evocative and abstract game. Even though the games themselves are quite different, both present you with deceptively simple exploration and blinding visuals at first, but it becomes more about how it makes you feel and how it makes you interact indirectly with your partner on the other end--who is a real person, somewhere, playing the game just like you.

For now, let's start at the beginning:

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SL's Adult-Rated Sims Grow in Number -- and Popularity, Too

Last week I noted that the number of Adult-rated sims in Second Life enjoyed a significant increase last year, while Moderate and General-rated sims declined -- but does that mean popularity in terms of user activity has become more Adult, too? On an initial review of top Second Life sims by user visits, that seems to be the case: In recent months, there are somewhat more Adult-rated sims in Second Life's Top 50 most popular sims by traffic.

Take a look at the chart below, courtesy Louis Platini's Metaverse Business, listed according to their average visitor count, their unique visitor range at any given period, and the sim's rank the previous month. First, the top 25:

Top 25 SL sims Jan 2013

The rest of the 50 after the break. 19 of this top 50, i.e. 38%, are Adult-rated. That's somewhat more than the count typically has been in 2010 and 2011, before Adult sims saw an increase. For instance:

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Why's Airship Fetish Sex the "Ralph Pls Go" SL Meme of '12?

Audiwark SL airship sex

This Second Life screenshot above was on the front page of Reddit last night, submitted by "audiwark", who explains, "My lady wanted me to try Second Life with her, she told me I could be anything and do what ever I want." So now several hundred thousand if not millions of Redditors are defining "anything" to include hot threeway sex with an A-10 Warthog Gunship. (Baby, my GAU-8 Avenger cannon is rotating so fast right now.) And this isn't even the first instance of airship fetish sex to go viral this year: Back in March, Penny Arcade Went There with a couple dirigibles.

Somehow, all this seems a step up from the previous SL sex meme from a couple years ago:

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Dark Desert Roleplay in SL's Kingdom of Sand

Kingdom of Sand roleplaying SL

I love Carrie Lexington's photo spread from her journey through the beautifully wrought desert-themed roleplay Kingdom of Sand, which I believe is an Adult-themed sim, though Ms. Lexington doesn't mention this point. Which suggests two related points: Whatever you think of their specific kind of roleplay, the Adult-oriented roleplayers of SL have created some of the world's most vividly realized environments. And you can visit and photograph them like Lexington did, whether or not you're part of that scene.