SLCC Participants Impress Bears Fans and National Media

by Alphaville Herald on 28/08/07 at 9:12 pm

Herald tabloid sensationalism shamed by Linden church-picnic — SL family values rule, OK?

by Urizenus Sklar, media critic


Stung by recent media claims that Second Life is all about ageplay, gambling, gorean slavery, sex furniture, bdsm arms merchants, yiffing furries, vampires, vore, and gynophagia, Second Lifers struck upon an ingenious solution to the problem: Have a party in which they show off how normal they are and invite ABC News and other national media outlets. According to the article on the ABC News website, Chicago Bears fans were particularly impressed by the show family get together. We quote:

Two men dressed in furry rabbit costumes danced the night away. A scantily underclad female vampire gleefully played dominatrix to a male vampire who obediently sat on the floor and mischievously snarled at her. A man wearing retractable wings showed off his stuff, while another in a see-through top went around spanking people with a wooden paddle.
“It’s just like being online at a party,” said Marsha Ellstrom …

…In the lobby of the Chicago Hilton hotel, as leather-and-lace-clad Second Lifers made their way to the evening’s ball, many people wearing Chicago Bears jerseys, fresh from the Bears game at Soldiers Field Saturday night or the fantasy football conference also at the hotel this weekend, stood and stared at the spectacle. Most of them said they had never heard of Second Life, and they did not seem particularly eager to join the community.
“Second Life isn’t for everybody, right now,” says [Electric Sheep’s Giff] Constable.

Ah Giff, you are so droll. You fill me with mirth. And lulz.

46 Responses to “SLCC Participants Impress Bears Fans and National Media”

  1. Cocoanut Koala

    Aug 28th, 2007

    Giff is droll, all right. Apparently SL is mainly for shut-ins, single moms, and other losers who don’t have a life:

    “Just as the platform is great for the single mother he knows, he says he has discouraged a wealthy and gregarious friend from using it because, he told him, ‘You don’t need it right now,’ because his ‘first world’ friends and experiences are enough.”

    Amazing. Who knew.


  2. Tenshi Vielle

    Aug 28th, 2007

    Holy crap.

    I’m embarrassed enough for all of Second Life right now. Yup. Pretty damn sure.

  3. urizenus

    Aug 28th, 2007

    bajeebers coco, good catch. But knowing how traditional media screws up these quotes and decontextualizes them I’m giving Giff the benefit of the doubt. I can’t believe that came out the way he said it. Say it ain’t so, Giff!

  4. SLCC Winner

    Aug 29th, 2007

    This was also discussed at

    It’s amazing that to overcome the stigma the media has put on SL, this group….only emphasized it. Thanks a lot.

  5. Cocoanut Koala

    Aug 29th, 2007

    The decontextualizing is a strong possibility.


  6. Maria Leveaux

    Aug 29th, 2007

    Mes Enfant
    If the Entire population of that Conference were dressed like Chartered accountants on their way to a Mass IRS Audit, and One person showed up with In Goth Regalia, The Media present would Portray the entire Gathering as a Goth Fete.By Now you should KNOW how much you can trust the mainstream media.

    That’s why I Ignore it.


  7. Benjamin Duranske

    Aug 29th, 2007

    Reminds me of this, almost line by line.

    …but that was parody.

    I have no problem at all with what went on here. And it sort of sucks that the picture is going to become an image that represents a problem — it actually looks like a good time was had by everybody involved.

    But yeah, it simply doesn’t mix with trying to use the platform for business or education. That’s not the people in the picture’s fault at all — non-professional snapshots involving drinks and costumes always look seedier than they should. It’s just that SLCC should not to not try to be everything to everyone. Some have suggested splitting it into several conferences. Maybe that happens eventually, but in the short term, what seems more likely that people who want to use virtual worlds for business will just attend one of the many non-SL specific virtual world conferences, and SLCC will be free to turn completely into a fun sideshow. One that people attend for the drinks and dancing — but not one where people try to conduct real business.

  8. das_fuhrer

    Aug 29th, 2007

    Yes, second life is gross. This article is very well written and well thought out.

    No shame on anyone there, that IS second life.

    Fucking gross.

  9. Lewis Nerd

    Aug 29th, 2007

    What a shame that this kind of thing tends to degrade the image of SL for the rest of us.

    Out of all the things that could have made the media this weekend from the SL convention … it has to be the pervy ball.

    I’m quite sure that some really don’t think how hard it is to try and encourage people to join SL when they see this sort of stuff in the media.

  10. a weaboo furry

    Aug 29th, 2007


    Suddenly, the average furry or anime convention doesn’t seem like such a big collection of weirdness. Compared to this, it looks even pretty normal.
    And to think that on the last furry convention, they were seriously concidering disallowing collars and leashes, as they didn’t want to seem weird.

    I’m SO glad I didn’t go there. And, I think I’ll be joining the PN.

  11. blossom

    Aug 29th, 2007

    “Apparently SL is mainly for shut-ins, single moms, and other losers who don’t have a life”

    Well that’s how Linden Labs sees their customers. Didn’t you watch the Daniel Huebner Stanford Humanities Lab video?

  12. Victorria Paine

    Aug 29th, 2007

    Such prudishness!

    I mean the photo is not a great one (personal snaps usually are not), but the idea that it’s somehow “bad” to display people having fun with a collar and leash … wow, that’s an alien sentiment to me.

    Where I went to university, we had a tradition called “The Exotic Erotic Ball” — an event that was held once a year. What happened there, on Uni property, and with full cognizance of the Uni administration, makes what is depicted in the picture look like a rated PG film to be honest. Did this discredit the University? Not in the least. Rather to the contrary, it was a testimony to how free expression was encouraged, not angrily and dismissively shoved aside in some ill-concieved, quasi-puritanical, misplaced burst of energy.

    Yes, some people in SL like to play with collars and leashes. Yes, the media will pick up on this element, largely because it draws attention — which is what they are in the business of doing to begin with. Why are we surprised by that? To be honest, I’m not embarrassed in the least about this .. why would I be? There’s nothing embarrassing at all about people enjoying themselves and having a good time, whether in SL itself or at gatherings like the SLCC.

  13. shockwave yareach

    Aug 29th, 2007

    Well, you cannot trust the press to get anything right unless the reporter is a part of the scene in the first place. Did they get SF right? Trekkies? Comic cons? Anime? As noted before, if there are 2000 people dressed like the Amish and one guy in latex bondage gear, all the pictures and the reports will be of Bondage Bob. It’s unfair, certainly, but that’s just the way it is. The Media Machine long ago gave up any pretense of trying to report the news and is now only interested in the most sensational and shocking slant possible to put on a story. Shocking gets attention — attention is the coin of the new instant communication age.

    That all said, no, I didn’t go to SLCC. Instead of flying all day, paying 8$ for a hotdog and watching people hit each other with whips, I played on SL itself. There I could fly all day and watch people hit each other with whips… but the hotdogs are free.

  14. GreenLantern Excelsior

    Aug 29th, 2007

    The people in the background of that picture look normal. And most of the article discussed normal ventures like capitalism and socializing. But trust the news media to highlight the weirdos in the picture and the article’s first paragraph.

    Check the (mostly positive) comments made by ABC readers. They recognize the same thing.

  15. Candy Lemmon

    Aug 29th, 2007

    Guys, really. When did you all become the lifestyle police?

    What business is it of yours that someone wants to dress up in a rabbit costume and wear a leash? It only represents you if you agree it does. If you aren’t a furry-slave-player, then you know that DOESN’T speak for the SL community, nor does any other individual – however great a photo-op.

    The Time article and other bad publicity have been circulating for a while. By now you all should be prepared for the fact that those removed from SL have their own, usually tainted ideas about what SL is, and I’d hope that you’d be over it by now.

  16. Nacon

    Aug 29th, 2007

    It’s their party… either join or stay out of it.


  17. Stroker Serpentine

    Aug 29th, 2007

    FYI…Taerith and Neek won the best costume prize of $250 each :)

  18. SqueezeOne Pow

    Aug 29th, 2007

    That picture actually reminded me of my high school. It was an arts magnet school deal so there were a lot of “eccentric” people there…i.e. the cats that got beat up in regular high school for being “freaky”. My high school was a lot of fun even though I didn’t participate in the more “Hot Topic” activities.

    I’m sorry “serious SL Businessmen”, that picture is more SL than you are! Keep making your money but don’t get mad when people think SL is all sex and violence…because it is!

  19. Savi Benavente

    Aug 29th, 2007

    One of the reasons I didn’t go to SLCC was because it seemed to be less about second life and more about getting laid and traipsing around in bdsm gear. They totally lost my interest when it became clear that the organizers were catering to a very distinct subset of Second Life residents.

  20. FlipperPA Peregrine

    Aug 29th, 2007

    Oh yes, what a great job we did degrading the SL image – except, that as you’ve all noted, it was *already that way* and sex is a very large part of the Second Life communities. What aren’t like the other conferences that pretend this stuff doesn’t exist and just focused on exciting things like business analysis and R.O.I. – we’re a family barbecue that tries to be as inclusive of everyone as possible! I’ve always found it odd that a tabloid such as the Herald goes to great lengths to cover events like VW2007, which seem so out of place with the rest of what the Herald publishes, yet acts “too cool for skool” when it comes to SLCC. Oh well, par for the course, here’s hoping you all come next year and have as much fun as we all did. It was a blast, and Stroker threw a hell of a party, which I must note, was separately ticketed from SLCC. There was a single sex panel out of a total of about 40, but as the Herald knows, sex sells, so of course it is the part ABC focused on.

  21. Artemis Fate

    Aug 29th, 2007

    “One of the reasons I didn’t go to SLCC was because it seemed to be less about second life and more about getting laid and traipsing around in bdsm gear.”

    Isn’t that EXACTLY what Second Life is about these days?

  22. Tenshi Vielle

    Aug 29th, 2007

    Flipper, don’t get all bent out of shape over the Herald’s coverage of this. From what I’ve noticed, most of the media seems to be viewing SLCC the same way – which is from a bent perspective. Utterly shameful. Why on earth did the organizers allow such a shortsighted article? I mean, did you only invite them to the ball, or were the press allowed to attend everything else as well? I can only assume they did, because they quoted Nexus in one article.

    With that in mind… why on earth are they so hell bent on joining the “SL Sucks” bandwagon and making SLCC look like a conglomeration of freaks? I don’t see any of the reporters covering the nicer aspects – like the proposal that happened at the dance that evening.

    Do the internet a favor and go write up a truthful account of the happenings at SLCC. Not all of us were there, and this f*cked up perspective isn’t helping.

  23. Puck Goodliffe

    Aug 29th, 2007

    We’re all sex maniacs and freaks – some of us just have the guts to not give a damn what the repressed losers at ABC news thinks.

    How exactly is having fun and being sexual gross or disgusting?

    I didn’t go to SLCC but I know people who did – they had fun and were happy. That should be the only measure of the worth of it – not the opinions of some Christians and tabloid media folks.

  24. Morgana Fillion

    Aug 29th, 2007

    I don’t really get the problem here. I’ve seen coverage of the business aspects, and this is appears to be a party where they’re playfully taking on some parts that *surprise* are a part of SL. They look like they’re having fun and it’s no more or less dorky than any gathering I’ve ever been to that involves gamers or fandom or a bunch of Internet friends getting together.

    Part of SL *is* the people who populate it, and that is beyond their value as potential costumers for businesses in-world. How wonderful that they were able to have fun with it face-to-face. I’d be a lot more worried if the pictures were showing a bunch of people uncomfortable with finding themselves sharing the same physical space.

    Yes, mainstream media writing to people who aren’t in SL will paint it however they will… but those that are in SL pointing at this as an example of something that should be hidden and buried, so we can all pretend that SL doesn’t include anything the outside media deems ‘shocking’ is just silly. Yep, there’s sex in SL, much of it of the playful creative sort that looks kinda silly when carried over into real-life. And here’s an example of how the attendees get that – a party where they dress and act in the flesh the way we can in SL.

    Why agree with the wider media that having a fun laugh at themselves is a sign of something awful? As insiders, the Herald has an opportunity to explain instead of being pissed off that the attendees didn’t show up as good little consumer drones to lure the business people in. Especially strange considering that the Herald is the biggest spotlight of sex in SL there is, and no doubt where many of the media types are doing their ‘research’.

    A bit of leather and some big smiles is really that shocking? Please.

  25. Angel

    Aug 29th, 2007

    >> What business is it of yours that someone wants to dress up in a rabbit costume and wear a leash?

    OMG Stop cameraing into my skybox please!

  26. Second Lulz Vigilante

    Aug 29th, 2007

    @GreenLantern Excelsior

    “The people in the background of that picture look normal. And most of the article discussed normal ventures like capitalism and socializing. But trust the news media to highlight the weirdos in the picture and the article’s first paragraph.”

    It’s kind of like what they do to bikers today or norsemen in the middle ages. The media wants people to believe that all bikers are nothing but Hells Angels just the same as the norse were(and still often are) painted as bloodthirsty viking raiders.

    I love it when people get false dichotomies stuck in their puny heads that way. Without false dichotomies, I’d miss a ton of oppurtunities for internet trolling. *chuckles*

  27. Simon Lameth

    Aug 29th, 2007

    Even more surprising:
    I can’t fine one Chicago TV station that covered SLCC. They may have had it as the kicker, but I can’t find a video or story on any of their websites.

  28. Azzu Manga

    Aug 29th, 2007

    All I have to say is, FlipperPA rocks.

    I enjoyed our little FIC meeting. :)

  29. urizenus

    Aug 29th, 2007

    C|Net has some good pics from the Leather and Lace Ball here:

    Flip, Pat the Rat was supposed to attend and represent for the Herald, but s/he had to miss it for her/his annual sex change in Thailand.

  30. Nikola Shirakawa

    Aug 30th, 2007

    Heh perfect thing to see associated with the in-world SLCC, run off JLU land. lol

  31. DietOrDie

    Aug 30th, 2007

    !!!!That looks like the Weight Watchers Convention!!!!

  32. anon

    Aug 30th, 2007

    I’m watching all this, the image that the media portrays about SL and SLCC, and the responses to this article and elsewhere, and I can’t help but laugh really.

    “Oh noes! the media portrays us as sexual deviants! We’re not all like that! LOOK! there’s normal people in the background of that picture, too!”

    “Who cares what the media thinks? We’re freaks who like to get our freak on, and we don’t care what everyone thinks!”

    “The media always takes out the things that draw attention and ignore everything else! SL is not all about sex! We must show the people SL players are normal!”

    yadda yadda yadda.

    Somehow, this all seems too familiar…
    can’t put my finger on it.

    Hang on…
    Did’t MTV did some show about some fandom in the past?
    And Vanity Fair?
    And even ER?

    Looks like all SL residents got a name now. Can’t say I care too much tho. But it is entertaining. Maybe someone should coin a new word to scream in the next event that some media display something ‘deviant’ and pretends it’s everyone on SL who’s like this? Like, SLersecution?

  33. Lewis Nerd

    Aug 30th, 2007

    I put the blame entirely on the organising committee of the SLCC. If they were so shortsighted that they couldn’t see that this negative part would overshadow everything else at the SLCC – then more fool them.

    It is perhaps unfortunate that there aren’t more “normal” people involved in organising the SLCC. If you allow the sex maniacs and fetishists to take a lead in the organising of it, then that’s what the end result is going to come out like.

    If you allow one of SL’s most well known perverts to organise something … you don’t think it’s going to be a normal event, do you?

    One day people will realise that perhaps it’s things like this that put a lot of people OFF of going to a conference, or telling friends and family what they do in their spare time (play SL).

  34. urizenus

    Aug 30th, 2007

    Oh please Lewis, being a freak is a big part of Second Life for a huge percentage of the users. Why should they fly all the way to Chicago and pretend to be something they are not, just to keep the SL image all shiny? I’d say the world has enough people pretending to be things they aren’t. Repression isn’t the answer; that just leads to cruising airport rest rooms.

    *My* point is that people like you need to stop hyperventilating over the fact that a third of the stories in the Herald involve the SL kink factor, because that is the reality of the place whether you like it or not, and no matter how much you wish it were otherwise.

  35. Victorria Paine

    Aug 30th, 2007

    “Repression isn’t the answer; that just leads to cruising airport rest rooms.”

    I got a chuckle out of that one!

    But it’s very true as well. I don’t understand why people are surprised that an online world features a lot of kink — to the contrary, it would be completely shocking if it were *not* the case. What it reflects (and what a lot of people don’t like or want to admit) is that there are a *lot* of folks out there in the material world who are interested in kink, but for whatever reason do not do it in the material world, and choose instead to explore it in SL. But in any case, given how all over the place it is in SL, it would be silly to ignore it from the journalistic perspective.

  36. Lewis Nerd

    Aug 30th, 2007

    Being a freak may be part of Second Life for some, but it is definitely not for all – and I wish the media would cover some of the rest of what SL is all about.

    Most of the stories in the herald involve ‘kink’ because that’s exactly what you want to cover. It’s the position you have taken (partly because nobody else wants to) and it’s because its where your interests lie. You enjoy it, so you want to encourage others into it. You, and people like you, complain about Christian ‘evangelism’ and intrusion into everything yet can’t see how you are evangelising your viewpoint and trying to make everyone else conform to your standards, as low as they may be.

  37. urizenus

    Aug 30th, 2007

    Lewis, we aren’t evangelizing anything. We are just showing people what is going on. You can stick your head in the sand if you want (which you have been doing since your TSO days) but don’t ask the rest of us to do it. Nor is our emphasis wrong. About a third of our stories are about SL kink, which is pretty close to the % of SL activity that *is* kink by my reconning and by the Lindens’ own numbers.

    We just tell it like it is. Don’t blame us if your world is a kinked out phreaked out scene. If you don’t like it, waddle on over to Club Penguin.

  38. Morgana Fillion

    Aug 30th, 2007

    Not hiding it is ‘evangelism’? I don’t think anyone in the kink world wants to recruit anyone who isn’t interested. Makes for very clumsy, awkward encounters.

    Staying with your faulty comparison, there is no BDSM beancounter making the price of admission into the In-club being how many souls you drag in with you.

  39. Victorria Paine

    Aug 30th, 2007

    I can’t see the Herald “evangelizing” kink. Reporting on something is nogt evangelizing, and to be honest, kink is so common in SL that to *not* report on it would be a calculated slant, really.

    There isn’t much BDSM “evangelization” that goes on. People who are curious (and there are a lot of those) come and see … and if they like it, they stay. If they don’t, they leave. It’s very straightforward, really, like anyplace else on the grid. The difference is that there are a *lot* of people who find SL a “safe” place to explore these kinds of fantasies in a way that they would never do in the material world for varying reasons. What that means is that there are more people like this than the “why can’t we just be normal” people like to think, and that, rather to the contrary, being into BDSM, or at least curious about it, isn’t “freaky” at all, but is quite common.

  40. Xerses Goff

    Aug 30th, 2007

    I actually stopped and talked to the reporter on the way in and was quoted in the article.

    I went from an elf (which is how I was dressed), who was going to a mascarade ball and talking about how SL could help people who might not otherwise be comfortable starting business or with handicaps; to being portrayed in the article as a pirate in black and gold trimmed costume going to a fetish party looking for a place where people could explore things they were not comfortable with in first life.

    If that was not twisting the facts to support a point of view, I don’t know what is. had a skewed point of view going into this series.

    There were a few people dressed more exotically, though the majority were not dressed up at all. This was much calmer and less unusual than other parties happening on college campuses and other places around the world. SL has its folks looking for sex and more bizarre behavior, in that way it mirrors the web and RL. But most there were not looking for that, at least not publicly.

    But I guess that doesn’t sell papers or attract web hits.

  41. Second Lulz Vigilante

    Aug 31st, 2007


    “Yes, second life is gross. This article is very well written and well thought out.

    No shame on anyone there, that IS second life.

    Fucking gross.”

    You obviously haven’t seen the rest of the internet then…or RL for that matter. But hey, enjoy being sheltered! lol!

  42. DF

    Aug 31st, 2007

    So, why should anyone CARE about the way the media shows SL?

    If anything, it will keep a lot of people OUT, that shouldn’t be in SL in the first place. Like my mom. Wouldn’t want her to know all the things I get up to in SL, and if she sees this report, she’ll just go back to playing Bejeweled. *wo-hoo :D *

    Seriously tho.
    Everyone should be doing what they enjoy, and not care what others, especially others that don’t matter in any way (like the media), think about it.

    Just shrug it off, and go back to your Second Life… Wether that involves building a chapel and giving virtual sermons (spelling? hell if I know), shooting at people in combat sims, or getting your kink on leashed to a pole in the middle of a BDSM sim for everyone to use.

  43. Giff Constable

    Aug 31st, 2007

    That comment of mine in ABC was erroneous — thank you for giving me the benefit of the doubt Uri. How Cocoa could jump to her conclusion when I’m clearly a believer in this space and platform is beyond me.

    I did not discourage the friend in question, but rather encouraged him to try SL. However, after he tried it, he was confused and left unsure why and how he would use the service. I actually know quite a few people like this.

    As I’ve written on my blog, I think SL adoption will be purpose-driven. I don’t think it is mainstream yet, evidenced by the high churn rate and the constant “what do I do?” question.

    I’m not fussed if someone isn’t ready for Second Life, because it probably means that Second Life isn’t ready for them. All in good time. I view the technology and market as very early, but none of this makes me question the fundamentals of this space.

    I’m not surprised the journalist saw this all as a bit strange, and of course he was going to focus in on the titillating activities of the masquerade ball. Surprise surprise surprise.

    more of my thoughts (from a few days ago) here:

  44. FlipperPA Peregrine

    Sep 2nd, 2007

    Uri: I should have noted, my snarky comments were aimed squarely at Tenshi’s “zOMG I’M SO EMBARRASSED FOR THE CHILDREN” and not at the article. :) We all know Tenshi has done nothing but bring pride and valor to the Herald and Second Life as a whole. ;)

  45. Gando

    Sep 4th, 2007

    I was at the SLCC, and we have no one to blame but the media for the coverage seen here. All of the sessions I attended were eye opening and well put together. I heard a lot of the same from others. I also met a lot of great people, heard a lot of amazing ideas, and had fantastic discussions on all sorts of SL topics. It would have been great to see the focus of big media “journalists” be on the hard work presented in the sessions. Oh well.

    The Ball was a great deal of fun. I wore mostly the same thing I did for the whole conference (a kilt and tee-shirt), so I fit in pretty well between the dressed in costume, and those who were not dressed in costume. There was nothing terribly surprising to me, I’ve been to more bawdy Renaissance Faires. People need to get over sex.

    I turned down all media interviews when at SLCC, mostly because I figured they were just out to interview some “weirdo” in a kilt. I new that I was unprepared and would certainly be taken out of context, if what I said even had a chance of getting out into the media world.

    Just say no. Until the media and their “journalists” pull their collective money grubbing heads out of their asses, just tell them to take a hike.

    “Quote me as saying I was misquoted.” ~ Groucho Marx

  46. Mhaijik

    Sep 6th, 2007

    The person that interviewed me was the Harvard student associate of the ABC news guy. What I said as well, was taken out of context in the sense that he did not include the rest of my sentence which explained what I meant. He did correctly quote me, I will give him credit- that I did NOT say it was just like a party in ‘Second Life’. I specifically just said ‘an online party’ as I inhabit many online worlds.
    A group of us had actually spent a lot of the 2 days with the ABC news guy, not the student, and had spoken with him at great length about presenting the convention truthfully and not sensationalizing it.
    The convention was a great 2 full days of educational and fun panel discussions in the tracks, business, education, social, and machinima. I gathered a wealth of information and met many wonderful people.
    I guess news is only news when it creates a lot of attention – else why write it up……

Leave a Reply