by Alphaville Herald on 09/09/07 at 5:09 pm
El Diablo investigates virtual girlfriends, freaks, parties, and drive-by penising
by Mariner Trilling, man of many parts
As my first rez day approaches, it gives me an occasion to look back upon my first year in Second Life. There were the obvious changes as I went from dickless noob to anatomically correct avatar but SL also changed, going from seven or eight thousand people online to over forty thousand. Despite the changes, some of the strangest aspects of SL are still timeless and unchanging. I can still go to a Welcome Area and hear an occasional shout over the crowd from a newbie, “I want to do sex with someone!” It’s a shout that I’ve heard in four or five other languages but it’s always a guy in a newbie avatar. I wonder to this day if they come from somewhere in RL where you can go to a public place and shout for sex.
While I was never reduced to standing in a crowd shouting for sex, I did spend time trying to meet virtual girls. A big part of my year long transformation was the change from a girl chasing adolescent to adult citizen. Eventually, instead of meeting girls at sex clubs, I met girls in the course of normal activities at music shows and writer’s groups. After we’d gotten to know each other, then I’d take them to sex clubs.
Some of my favorite places in SL are still the Welcome Areas. Ahern Welcome Area was the first place I arrived after Orientation Island and I visit it regularly knowing that I can always encounter another unchanging aspect of Second Life: bizarre people. There was the topless female with broad masculine shoulders and oversize muscular arms in a brand new avatar that walked up and started dancing in front of me without saying a word. When her dancing got no response she physically started humping me still saying nothing. Even if I was in the mood to get my leg humped by a stranger I would expect them to at least say ‘Hello’. Technically, there is no nudity allowed in a Welcome Area but since she didn’t have nipples, I guess it was ok.
A man once stopped me in the grassy field behind a Welcome Area building. His profile showed that he was just over two weeks old and he wore the standard new avatar of a guy in flip-flop sandals with khaki shorts, yellow t-shirt covered by an open white shirt. “There are so many nice people here…” he told me.
“Yes… You meet all types in the Welcome Areas.” I replied, noticing that the standard black frame eyeglasses which come with that avatar had been replace by rhinestone studded cat’s eye frames like a waitress in a nineteen-fifties diner. He looked strange.
“Well, I don’t know where the Welcome Areas are but this game has lots of nice people in it.” He clearly wasn’t aware that he was in a Welcome Area. “But, I have to tell you something…” he said stepping closer to me.
“Okay…” I was getting uncomfortably drawn into a bizarre stranger’s confidence.
“I’m gay.” He said.
I stood silently trying to come up with a polite way to rebuff what I erroneously perceived to be a sexual advance.
“I’m gay!” he said again and started some dance/prance animation around me. “I’M GAY! I’M GAY!” he shouted prancing around the field. The guy pranced away into the distance shouting, “I’M GAY!”
I stood there trying to understand how someone’s first SL investments would be a pair of women’s eyeglasses and a ‘prance’ animation. As he disappeared over the green hillside shouting that he was gay, I realized that this guy may have searched all of his repressed life for a place where he could prance through a green meadow shouting his gayness to the world. All I could say was, “Good for you.”
Just as sex is a recurring, unchanging theme in SL, so is violence. I encountered one guy in a Welcome Area dressed in mercenary combat garb slinking through the crowd with two pistols drawn and laser sites active. His animations had him assuming battle stances as he went around chatting to himself, “They’re here. I know they’re here… Linden alts are everywhere!” His dangerous gaze scanned the crowd focusing on me for a disturbing moment before moving on. “I’m going to kill every Linden alt I find! Here Lindy, Lindy, Lindy…” I thought about changing my titler to read, “Not a Linden Alt!”
Exploration is one of my favorite activities and as a result I sometimes end up in places where I’m not necessarily wanted nor welcome. Rather than putting up barriers to keep uninvited people out, some property owners actually make a sport of ejecting trespassers. Over the last year I’ve been targeted by almost every weapon SL has to offer including orbiters, cagers and push guns. I’ve been shot at by every imaginable projectile (chickens, watermelons, penises) but for me the worst was the dreaded ‘fart gun’. The fart gun is not a weapon that shoots farts AT people but instead makes the person shot at fart. When hit by the fart gun, there is a fart sound and a brown cloud forms around your avatars butt along with a line of text denying responsibility. “Mariner Trilling says, ‘I didn’t do it!’”
Because my avatar isn’t completely human, I probably get a little extra attention. I wear a set of dark wings with a glowing red halo and I’m always asked if I’m the devil. Some newbie in a Welcome Area actually started shouting, “El Diablo! El Diablo!” One time I happened upon some kind of outdoor festival or picnic and blended in with the crowd. Suddenly someone shouted something about a foul demon in their midst and the whole group surrounded me chanting, “DEMON! DEMON!” I thought they were joking around until a girl came forward and started pushing me. She pushed me across the parcel and off a cliff to fall over 100 meters. I managed to click the ‘Fly’ button just after my avatar struck the ground.
As the arms race in SL escalates it seems that more attacks are directed at entire sims rather than individuals. There are the texture attacks that flood a sim with thousands of pictures until the region crashes. I’ve seen a number of pictures used for these attacks but still see the Bill Cosby Jell-Owned pic the most. I understand why a griefer would select some offensive or pornographic image for a texture attack but why Bill Cosby?
Another common attack on sims that we’ve all seen is the penis prim attack. A self replicating primitive object shaped like a penis replicates itself until thousands of them crash the sim. Last year’s Christmas attack used large green penises wearing Santa hats and succeeded in crashing a couple of regions. Penis attacks are so common that it coined the use of the word ‘penis’ as a verb, as in ‘they were severely penised’ or ‘the penising lasted several minutes’. Of course, if the scripted prim had been launched from a moving vehicle it would be a ‘drive-by penising’.
It might seem silly but one of the changes in SL that I hated to see was the removal of the ratings point system. For 25 Lindens you could give a point to another SL citizen that you liked and the total points in different categories would show up on their profile. The theory was that you could look at a profile and could tell that someone with no points was some kind of an asshole. After a while I had a meager collection of points that I was proud of and I met oldbies who had hundreds of points. One day I logged on and the whole rating point system was gone. It might have been less heartbreaking if the points had been converted back into Lindens and added to our accounts.
It’s been a transformative year in SL and I look forward to my next rezday wondering what it will all be like a year from now. As a science fiction fan, it’s easy for me to imagine a 50th rezday where humans plug directly into the software and hardware of the brain instead of using PCs. We’d all have USB ports in the back of our skulls to connect to a biological internet. There would have to be some authority figures that would prevent griefers from entering someone’s brain and releasing scripted penis prims that would replicate until the victim crashes into a coma. Sadly, there would also be those who would send the same authority figures into someone’s brain to prevent them from imagining slot machines, blackjack tables or anything that was ‘broadly offensive‘. Of course, there will still be some newbie there trying to make time with the girls, shouting for sex and shooting people with his fart gun.