by Alphaville Herald on 03/08/08 at 3:52 pm
Experience the joy of the lively tentacle
by Pixeleen Mistral, International Affairs desk
Google claims their Lively 3D chatroom is a de-sexualized platform where players can safely interact with each other. But the players have other ideas, and have even found a way have virtual sex – using a piece of furniture provided by Google — the Robot Closet.
At first blush, the robot closet seems harmless enough, but players soon realized the closet has an animation that causes 4 tentacle-like robot arms to thrust suddenly out of their retracted position, then return to the retracted position. According to reliable sources, Lively players feeling amorously inclined will place a Robot Closet in a secluded chatroom, then position themselves so that the animated arms of the closet appear to thrust from one player into another. Vigorous clicking of the closet follows, to trigger the animation as the avatars pleasure each other.
One might wonder if this will result in an increased demand for one of the more esoteric forms of Japanese anime porn – robot tentacle hentai – as pre-teens and teens enjoy some of their first online sexual experiences with robot tentacles courtesy of Google.
Google’s community standards for Lively appear to prohibit this stating, “We don’t allow nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material. This includes making sexual advances toward other users”. The community standards also state that players younger than 13 are prohibited, and players between the ages of 13 and 18 need their parent’s permission to join – but there does not appear to be much of an enforcement mechanism in place for any of this – players are simply expected to abuse report each other.
Apparently the creators of Lively sought safety by limiting what their users could do, but the result is rather boring – there is no shopping, no building, and frankly not much to do in Lively other than flirt. Not surprisingly, the community standards are completely ignored by the players. With a very young demographic – most of the players I met seem to be between 11 and 15 – Google may also be headed for some negative press if Lively appears to be a pick up site for underage cybersex – which may be happening if my experience is representative.
To get a feeling for the “social” scene in Lively consider the private IM’s I was receiving while researching the robot closet.
Mr. smooth pickup artist asks if I am a naughty girl. Rather than try to explain that I am a well-known journalist, I decide to role play an earnest 13 year old. Sometimes the story comes first. I would soon regret this decision.
I feign confusion, he presses for naughty talk.
A common feature of the sex chatrooms in Lively seems to be furry avatars positioning themselves facing the crotch of male avatars – I hope they are not doing what I think they are. Could it be something naughty? Maybe they are just acting like dogs and sniffing? I really hope so.
In open chat, someone asks how to have sex in Lively. A helpful soul explains about the robot closet.
I’m looking up the robot closet in the catalog. Meanwhile, Mr. smooth pickup artist wants to know if I am still paying attention.
“u wanna cyber?”
At this point I tell myself that sometimes in the news business you have to be a total pro and put up with truely grotendous pervs, but I’ll give him an out. I’m supposed to be 13 after all, and mom wouldn’t like this at all. Will he back off?
No, he will not back off…
My lucky day – according to virtual romeo, I am a grown up girl now, and I have pretty eyes
Mr smooth is looking for more contact points – MSN or Yahoo – and a time when Mom is not around.
I make another try at establishing that I am really too young – “I’m not supposed to be dating boys yet”
Mr smooth promises me a real good time – “u r goin to like it”
Give RiversRunRed and the Electric Sheep Company credit – at least one guy is getting off on their avatar design and touching himself – but is this violating Google’s community standards?
enough is enough – I decide Mom is coming and I have to go.
After stopping at the Herald offices in Lively to put out a Robot Closet for those that want to experience the joy of the Lively tentacle, I logged out, and headed to the Herald offices in Second Life where someone left the CD player going again. A song lyric jumps out at me:
well hold steady ybor city. you’re up to your neck in sweat wet confetti.
if you want to get a little bit heady. it’s gonna have to get a little bit heavy.
If Google is serious about playing in this space, things are certain to get a little bit heavy.
By aiming at a young demographic and creating a space with nothing much to do, the most likely result is a platform overrun with various forms of cybersex for the early teen crowd – and those attracted to them. But does Google really mind this?
To drive its Internet advertising business, Google needs two things – user volume and accurate personal profiles so they can target ads more effectively. The appeal of capturing “social” chat on their servers, then mining it for preferences, quirks, and peccadillos to feed to the Google advertisement panopticon must be overwhelming. Combine this with the growing use of Gmail, Google Chat, and the various Google online applications and the friendly search engine company will have an increasingly accurate picture of everyone’s online life.
After realizing the lead for Lively- Niniane Wang – also was the tech lead for the Gmail ads project, I felt a chill. I’m going to be really concerned if I start seeing tentacle hentai ads in Gmail.