Sex In On-Line Worlds

In New Scientist, a look at sex in perpetual online worlds, especially on Second Life, and what it means for romantic and sexual interaction in this one.

Second Life may be throbbing with sexual activity, but it’s not easy to enter the sex communities. To begin with, customising a beginner-level avatar into a sexual being is difficult and expensive: genitalia, outfits, more realistic skin and hair, and sexual moves all cost extra unless you can program them for yourself. “You have to be pretty savvy to create a realistic-looking avatar,” says Kandora. “Not all users have the time, patience and talent for that.”

And though you can buy or make the body, the clothes, the grooming and the know-how, you still have to find a willing partner. Second Life’s sex rooms can be difficult to find without a guide, and even if you did stumble upon one, the community might not accept a stranger immediately. “It would be considered offensive to just show up,” says Brathwaite. As a result, the sex communities within Second Life have remained relatively small.

But now, games developers are teaming up with the pornography industry to open up cybersex to the masses. The collaboration has led to the first generation of erotic multiplayer online games: Red Light Center, released in May, and Naughty America, due to be released this summer.