Second Life To Add Red Light District. No, Really, This Is Not A Joke.

Official notice. Short version: a new category of content (currently there is only two, “PG” and “Mature”) will be added, and users will have to verify they are an adult to access it.

Wagner James Au’s article (with interview with Linden Lab officials) amusingly denotes that most of what you or I would consider X-Rated isn’t, really.

I gave a specific example to Cyn and Roberts. One of the more popular roleplaying groups in SL is “Dark Den RP Group”, which by its own description, offers “Kidnap, auction and slavery RP”. Would that be designated as Adult? Surprisingly, both suggested it wouldn’t, since the wording is “not about sex and violence.”

How about “Capture” roleplay, generally associated with S/M sexuality? Again, they suggested, if sex wasn’t explicitly mentioned, it wouldn’t be defined as sexual.

Meanwhile, the official support page on the subject implies that most Resident skins (which include [NSFW LINK] photo-realistic nudity because, well, you know) would be flagged “Adult” under the new system. Responses from Linden Lab representatives on message boards have been, not surprisingly, contradictory on that point.

Which means that what this is really all about is corporate CYA. Linden Lab has to date made quite a tidy business off of creating a virtual world that has a squeaky clean public face and, thanks to a combination of libertarian lack of content filtering and the ability to create literally anything, a private face that, well, has people parsing what “capture roleplay” means. Or, as a commenter on the Massively coverage put it,

If you can’t find adult content in Second Life, your Internet must be out of pixels.

Considering that Linden Lab has been making mutterings about revamping adult content flagging for what seems like years now, it may be a while before any of this comes to fruition. Or, it could happen immediately!


17 Responses to Second Life To Add Red Light District. No, Really, This Is Not A Joke.

  1. Raad says:

    Take me out! dun dun dun…

  2. Hatch says:

    “Photo realistic”

    When will they patch in the reality to match the promise? Also, imagine the fun of a virtual erection and no collision detection. I predict this being 9 year old heaven.

  3. Gx1080 says:

    Lets see if i get this straight, because i know next to nothing about Second Life (uncouncious need of killing something in a game).

    This clasification of adult content its gonna bite Linden Labs in the ass because almost everything there is adult content checked for minors and they should just say that Second Life its an adult game, but they really cant even do what they say they are going to do because theres no way to know if somebody is +18 in the Internet.

    Did i get it? Feel free to add any corrections.

  4. Mike Darga says:

    This is the NGE all over again. The people who actually care will never like it, and the people who would have liked it will never care.

    /dead horse


  5. Klaitu says:

    Wait.. people play Second Life?

    I thought Second life was essentially a chat room for fetishists.

  6. Freakazoid says:

    If they stuff all the adult content away, how will it be any different from playstation home?

  7. EpicSquirt says:

    I hope they add human trafficking, drugged up to the eyeballs prostitutes in cheap brothels or on streets and pimps confiscating your account when you don’t play ball.

  8. Boanerges says:

    I think Scott hit the nail on the head a while back: your character’s appearance is basically how you “progress” in SL. Genitals? Yeah, that would be the porn “class”.

    @Mike Darga
    I disagree that this is NGE. In NGE you had a set style of play that was wrenched from the playerbase and another installed overnight. Linden isn’t nerfing porn so much as trying to make their seedy underbelly less prominent. The irony of it all is this could make Linden liable for what does go on while people are connected to their servers. After all, acknowledging behavior and giving it its own designated area is much, much closer to accepting it.

  9. Mike Darga says:


    Superficially they’re different, but they’re both trying to attract a new demographic of player who stopped caring/has never cared about your game, at the expense of ghettoizing the only loyal fans you do have. Not a recipe for happiness and prosperity.

    That said, I’m an ass for even bringing it up.


  10. Vetarnias says:

    In the interest of realism, when will Second Life get very realistic STD’s? Or better still, a perfect rendition of a particularly virulent and contagious strain of avian flu?

    I’m sure that it would serve science and help hide the POINTLESSNESS that fuels Second Life.

  11. Phil says:

    Damn it man, one of those links is to Gorean nonsense. Dirty pool.

  12. patio11 says:

    A comment on one of those blog posts:

    Once they’ve set the precedent of pushing the undesirables into ghettoes, who comes next? Furries? Goreans? Child Avis?

    I think the usual form of this argument suggests that Furries/Goreans/Child Avis (a word I’ve never heard before and am strangely afraid to Google, which should tell you something) are nice mainstream chaps which would be hurt by overreaching regulation.

    Ahh, SL, how freakishly weird you are.

  13. Well, to me it looks that there is a new potential in advertising and promoting Second Life to two different targets:

    Sex Fetishists: “Come to our Red Light District! Only Adults here (and we can guarantee it!)! Explore your sexual fetishism in safety and explore an amazing virtual world for a sensual pleasure!”

    Corporations: “No Adult content in your neighbourhood! We guarantee that. You will be surrounded in a clean and friendly, corporate-benefiting environment, free from pornography or any type of casual contact of a sexual nature!”

    Amazing how a single policy can please the two opposite opinions *simultaneously*. If that was intended, this will be a huge success, seeing how practically all social virtual worlds shun sex (and most also shun corporate customers), and even the largest web-based social environments are totally anti-sex and just have begun to accept corporate customers as well (for the ads!).

    Second Life at least has a long tradition of embracing *both*, and this announcement will just enhance that — while making sure both types of uses are sufficiently kept separate to make everybody at ease.

    Oh, and I’m not claiming the transition will be “peaceful”. Not at all!

  14. pharniel says:

    @ phil
    “Damn it man, one of those links is to Gorean nonsense. Dirty pool.”

    I don’t get the accusation of some sort of disengenious presentation of what the link would refrence on this one, what did you expect from a link to someone who’s theme is “capture role play”? I don’t expect the fandom of Taken/kiss the girls/silence of the lambs to be large enough to support a SL community, but about the ONLY thing I know from mainstream and other news stories about SL is that they’ve got a huge Gorean population. Say what you want about them, but they’re vocal, well organized and know what they want. Since they’re the randian/glibretarian bdsm scene they fit right in with second life.

    Or, for the kids, 4srs, isn’t it all tagged as NSFW anyway. It’s the internet, if it’s a random NSFW link and it’s not explicitly tagged with something that revvs your engine from someone you trust expect it to be something warren ellis would link to.

  15. Numtini says:

    There have been rumors they are going to merge the teen and adult grids, perhaps this is their answer to it. The PG rated sims are already a joke. People ignore the rating. I don’t see how this would be any different unless they’re going to radically change how they do business.

    In terms of who is an adult, they actually use a validation system requiring RL personal information. Any parcel owner and presumably this entire continent can flag it to only be open to people who are validated as adults. So the kiddos would have to first of all be in SL, then get their parents information including social security number. A lot of people feel its very overreaching, but it’s one of the few things I think they’ve gotten right.

  16. Bonedead says:

    You pointed to your boobies

  17. geldonyetich says:

    I visited Second Life not long ago. It was awful. It seems to be mostly populated by people trying to find a virtual place to parade their forbidden taboos while earning some Lindens by pandering to the lizard brain pleasure centers.

    This “Red Light District” idea won’t work because (A) Many people won’t flag their content (there’s already a flag and it’s not employed enough) and (B) There’s far too much Red Light about Second Life to bury.

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