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Extra Lives: Second Life (Part 2)

This is the second part of a continuing essay in which I chart my impressions and experiences of Second Life, an MMORPG which allows you to be one of two black people. If you haven’t already, be sure to read part one; the plot of Second Life is endlessly complicated and I wouldn’t want you getting lost.

In the spirit of fair warning, today’s entry contains hardcore sexuality. If you are under 18, please make sure your parents are asleep.

Day 3:

- On day 2, I started where I ended day 1: in the help plaza. I had assumed—fairly, I think—that every session, at least for noobs such as myself, would begin in this plaza. Logging in to day 3, however, I discover Nipsy still sitting, forlorn, at his table in the empty Lobster Claw restaurant. What an uncomfortable night that must have been.

- Since it’s still empty I have to assume the Lobster Claw is completely non-operational. I walk behind the bar and stand there for a while. Maybe if somebody comes in I can make them pay me for a drink and then teleport away. It’s fruitless, however. Nobody comes in.

- There’s a dish of fortune cookies, but they cost L$6 each. (That’s six Linden Dollars, folks…the in-game currency that you buy with real-life money you could be giving to real-life homeless people.) Maybe after I track down that money tree I’ll come back and let Nipsy read his fortune.

- There’s also a box of chocolates, all of which are free. You can choose from six different varieties, none of which are different from any other because you can’t actually eat them, or see them, or use them for any specific purpose. They just sit in your inventory. I fill my pockets, though, because they’re free. (It’s the same reason I stole the fire extinguisher.) Also, I figure Nipsy can hold onto them in case he meets a chocoholic nymphomaniac.


- After leaving the restaurant I discover a torch dispenser (what?) that invites—nay, commands!—me to “grab torch.” This I do, because it’s free, and I’m quickly becoming Second Life’s most reliable scavenger. I am then told to “wear torch.” This I do as well, because what’s the point in grabbing a torch if you aren’t going to wear it?

- Nipsy now walks around with a flaming torch in his hand like he’s some sort of subterranean explorer. All at once, the hat seems a little less silly. Nipsy is serious now. He’s just come back from an important archeological dig with such urgent information that he couldn’t afford to douse his torch before entering the disco. This is a man with findings to report.

- I don’t believe I’ve mentioned this, but you can fly in Second Life. It took me a little while to realize that this is the preferable way to get around. (Teleporting is much quicker, but you need a specific destination.) From the sky I explore the area directly around the Lobster Claw, which evidently closed its doors without ever actually closing its doors. Suddenly I hear chimes…

- Chimes? Or are they…church bells?

- I follow the leaden circles ringing in the air (or whatever the fuck Virginia Woolf called them) and find a little church. I don’t know how to make Nipsy land so I just click “stop flying.”

- And, yeah, he stops flying alright…exactly the way a cinder block might be said to “stop flying.” I actually feel bad for the guy as he peels himself up off the ground, but then I see his torch and teensy little hat and I realize he does not need my sympathy.

- The church is empty, but is actually quite beautiful. I know it’s not a REAL church, but somebody put a great deal of time and attention into its design. There’s a baptismal font I’ll use if Nipsy ever becomes a father (or a priest, I guess), some lovely stained glass windows, and a donation box, because even in Second Life the Catholic Church is one big beggar.

- Really, what would this church need money for? In reality, of course, funds are used for all sorts of things: paying the clergy, improving the church, keeping the lights on, printing materials, financing missionaries, bailing priests out of prison…but in Second Life those things shouldn’t cost money. I don’t understand why anybody would donate money to a digital church. In fact, the more I learn about the different things one can do in Second Life, the more I question the overall investment of one’s time.


- There’s nothing going on in the church right now so I’ll just squat on the Bible for a few minutes.

- (Hey, don’t get mad…the game offered me the specific option of doing this. And once somebody suggests squatting on a Bible, I defy you to refuse.)

- Well, old Nipsy couldn’t make a donation to Our Electronic Lady of Sorrow even if he wanted to, so it’s probably about time he tracks down one of them money trees. Even if they’re barren there’s supposed to be a few of them, so a handful of teleports should be all I need to get me some sweet, sweet Lindens.

- …except I don’t know how to read that note I received on day 1 about the locations of money trees. When it was given to me I was able to glance over it, and I know for a fact that I clicked “keep” rather than “discard” but I don’t know how to open it back up.

- Oh well. I could Google for a list of commands in Second Life, but there’s a built-in search feature that allows the player to locate specific landmarks, so let’s see if “money tree” turns up any locations.

- Turns out it does! Alright! I teleport to the first money tree result and find this waiting for me:


- So that’s the “money tree.” Wonderful. I’m even told (in a moment of surprising scam honesty) that my inbox will be positively flooded with spam, so I’d better make a separate account to contain it all.

- The concept of free money, then, is only slightly more realistic in Second Life than it is anywhere else. It involves filling out the same kinds of surveys that are advertised via popups and flashing banners promising free iPod Nanos. What a treat to find them here in Second Life as well. I wonder if I’ll get a larger sum for supplying my family’s banking information to a Nigerian barrister.

- I explore “Money Tree Island” for a short time to find it plagued by (what else?) popups and running banners, so it’s kind of like walking through a three-dimensional version of, which is not a prospect that should be exciting people.

- There is something here called a “money bench,” which has a few silent avatars seated on it. According to the instructions (a bench with instructions…), you will earn one free Linden Dollar for every 45 minutes you spend sitting on the bench. For reasons that should be obvious enough, I’m not interested enough to test this claim. I guess I could leave Second Life running while I sleep, but that seems pretty excessive for the privilege of buying Nipsy a fortune cookie.

- Money Tree Island is just begging to be fled, so I open up the search pane again. Not sure what to look for, I cast about for an old standard: “dating.” Since this economy thing isn’t going to be explored anytime soon, I might as well take a peek at what passes for romance in this place.


- There’s a dating service called Cupid Somethingorother, so I teleport there and find that, sure enough, that costs money, too. I can’t even roam the grounds without a membership; an invisible wall prevents me from getting anywhere interesting, and a woman named Sweety Basevi (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?) yells at me for trying.

- I figure I’ll just hang out by the entrance and accost any women who beam in. That way we can see if we hit it off before either of us invests money in the experiment.

- Unfortunately, if a woman gets propositioned by a black guy with a torch, they just keep on walking. Woe is Nipsy.

- I guess I’m barred from participating in this “dating” thing for now; I’ll have to explore it some other time, maybe after I come into some Linden Dollars of my own. There might be a free area somewhere, but I’m starting to think that romance in Second Life is dead. Let’s just jump into the sex.

- I teleport into something that advertises itself as Second Life’s 24-hour sex club, and look what’s dangling right in front of Nipsy’s face:


- Hachi machi. So that’s what people are sitting on money benches for.

- (My ever-helpful girlfriend informs me here that the photo-realistic penis is the most common purchase in all of Second Life. I am about to ask her a followup question, but wisely decide to remain silent.)

- The sex club is full of dark reds and purples, and, for some reason, Dutch people. There are a few dancing girls and at least one totally naked guy sitting spread-legged on a couch, but that’s all I really see. I sit next to the naked guy and try to strike up a conversation about the gyrating avatar in front of us, but he doesn’t reply. Between his knees there is a floating pink ball inviting me to “blow him.”

- See, that’s how special actions work in Second Life: these floating spheres (sometimes color-coded, to avoid accidental gender confusion) invite you to click them, which will cause your avatar to animate in some unique way. The woman dancing, for instance, must have clicked a pink ball that said, “shake that booty,” or some similar thing.

- The sex club is filling up fast, for whatever reason. I go exploring and discover pink and blue balls everywhere, inviting me to perform one half of a sexual activity. The thing is, though, that I don’t have a partner, and if I click on a ball, Nipsy won’t wait for one; he’ll just assume his half of the action and thrust his cock endlessly into the empty air, where a vagina should be.


- Some others, obviously, do have partners. I find a few of them doing what they are presumably best at: clicking a “fuck her” sphere and sitting at home in their desk chairs masturbating.

- Now, I’m no prude. I’m really not. I like sex as much as the next guy. (That part where the penis goes into some part of the woman a bunch of times in a row? That’s brilliant.) But, try as I might, I can’t get excited over what’s happening here.

- Maybe it’s because the avatars simply repeat the same brief animation cycle over and over again until somebody stops the animation completely. It’s not an act of sexual congress with its beginning-middle-and-end, it’s the same three seconds of sex looped over and over again. It doesn’t start slow, there is no foreplay, there is no climax, and there’s certainly no cuddling. If you’ve sat through all 50 frames of the pelvic thrust, you’ve seen everything that’s going to happen for the next hour and a half. Honestly, you might as well get excited by the walk-cycles in Lemmings. The Second Life sex scenes are no more complicated, and after a minute or two, you get exactly as blind to them as you do to the wind in the Lemmings’ hair.

- Or maybe it’s because the naked Second Lifers just aren’t…attractive. I know, I know, I spoke in day 2 about all of the women in the game being sexy. And I stand by that. But if you look at the screen shots, you’ll understand that they’re sexy because of how they’re dressed. They’re provocative. They’re enticing. But that’s all down to the clothing, and the hairstyles, because the faces are just hopeless smears. So your favorite female avatar, however sexy she managed to look upright, will lose all of her appeal when she falls naked on her back…because there’s nothing left of her. Naked, she looks no different than anybody else. And since she’s trapped in a singular animation cycle until one of you decides to quit, she’s lost all her personality, too.

- All of which sounds like I just wish cybersex could be better. Which I really don’t; I don’t care one way or the other. I do, however, respect the urges of others who might wish to participate. My only question is WHY participate if it’s this limiting? If real-life sex were anything like this, I can’t imagine it would have caught on at all.


- But that’s me, remember. Nipsy, on the other hand, is a try-anything-once kinda guy. So off he goes, looking for some of those “action nodes” (or whatever) that will allow him to get his greasy mitts all over some woman he’ll never see again.

- There are no unpaired females grinding against phantom cocks, so Nipsy takes a seat and begins his half of a “sensual kiss” (I’m glad they captioned it for me, because I never would have known otherwise…) hoping somebody will join him.

- Nobody does, but I have to respect the unending patience of the gentleman next to him on the couch in the above snapshot; he sat there for a good two minutes while Nipsy practiced his “Frenching” (as he calls it!) on nothing at all.

- Eventually I realize that nobody is going to seek Nipsy out, so I get up again to see if maybe any unpaired women have sprung up.

- They’ve all got partners…but there is one man sitting naked and alone, passionately petting a partner who isn’t there.


- Nipsy sidles in, because he’s damned if he’s going to end a night in a sex club without seeing any action.

- The gentleman in this picture waited just long enough for me to snap the picture before he abandoned poor Nipsy in mid snog.

- I guess he was a racist.

- Or maybe he wasn’t a homosexual.

- Or perhaps the torch was burning the back of his neck.

- Nipsy leaves the sex club as directionless as he was when he first entered, only now his mouth is filled with somebody else’s chest hair. Which, in a very real way, is an achievement of its own.

About this entry


- Or perhaps the torch was burning the back of his neck.

This being Second Life, I expect that before long you’ll run into someone who’s into exactly that.

Meg's picture

By Meg
January 11, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

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Absolutely hilarious! Poor old Nipsy. He can’t even get it off with other lonely guys in sex clubs.

Seriously though I have to wonder whether you’d be having any better luck (in all areas of the game - finding help, people to talk to etc.) if you had a white avatar. And of course it might help if you didn’t look like some camp, black Indiana Jones.

Muz's picture

By Muz
January 11, 2009 @ 8:39 pm

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There’s a baptismal font I’ll use if Nipsy ever becomes a father

If he spends all his time hanging around sex clubs, I’m pretty certain that’s what will happen. I wonder what the Second Life record is for most illegitimate children fathered?

By Ben
January 12, 2009 @ 12:37 am

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