Reflections on Going to Church in Second Life | It’s All About Sex

Voice-And-CamOK, so I went to church. In Second Life. A little late – so that’s pretty much par for regular church – but I wandered around and tried to take the thing in.

I didn’t last long. I got forcibly evicted – teleported I guess – for having no clothes on. I tried to give the ‘Isn’t it a bit like Adam?’ line, but it didn’t wash. To be fair, they apparently had to as that zone was ‘PG’, which meant ‘clothes on’, under Linden’s rules. But it was amazing how quickly people rushed around to bustle me out. Even when I landed out of the building, some marshall came rushing over and told me to get dressed again! Perhaps they’re being sensible and looking to the future, but the rendering is so poor that you look like little more than a naked Action Man. And what kid hasn’t seen that? More worrying though are the graphic videos that are now being embedded (see article here); Second Life is becoming a haven for pedophiles to swap material. So fair enough for chucking me.

So how was church? To be honest, pretty boring. I mean, you can activate the audio/video streaming stuff. But that makes it little more than putting a worship CD on. You wander around. Chat to people. Sit somewhere. Like a good male, I hadn’t read the manual too well, so it took me a while to learn how to move/gesture etc. Even so, it was still pretty underwhelming.

Personally, I don’t think a) it worked as a worship experience and b) it was a healthy way to spend time. Why? Because, however bad or good the graphics, it’s still a screen, and still all eyes and fingers. It’s all mediated. And not so much ‘nonsense’ as ‘a-sensual’.

Which brings me on to the sex. An article on Wired entitled “Second Life Without Sex Would Be a Sad Life, Indeed” noted:

“Sexual fantasy may just be the elephant — if not the turtle — that holds up the virtual world in the first place. No one will give a figure for exactly how much of Second Life’s economy depends on the Mature areas. Everyone is quick to point out that residents have built a number of entertaining, informative and practical things to do other than sex. And then everyone smirks.”

Church is one of these ‘entertaining, informative and practical’ things to do. But it’s not about fantasy, and so it doesn’t work. All screen-action, whether gaming or second-living relies on an element of fantasy. Second Life is not about our first life, it’s a different one where we can project our dreams and fantasies… and most people’s dreams are not about going to LifeChurch. Second Life is about fantasy sex. Period. So it’s not a place people should hang out much. And, as Ryan pointed out,

“Rather than jumping into Linden Lab’s virtually reality in order to talk to someone, maybe we should be concentrating on knocking on our physical neighbors’ doors first.”


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2 responses to “Reflections on Going to Church in Second Life | It’s All About Sex”

  1. I posted some screenshots of our experience. I even got some of you in your birthday suit and in your “white speedos”. Good times, mate.

  2. Some great snaps here from Zack – thanks!