Relationships in the Second Life (SL) universe – Part 2

(Continued from Part One)

Part 2: “When SL love meets RL”

The vows of partnership

First and foremost, Starlord Scribe, my avatar in Second Life, is partnered to RileyGene Parx, the avatar for whom my RL wife is typist. Neither of us are in Second Life really anymore, so that point is mute, if you ping us in-world you’re likely to get no response at all because we’re never there anymore.

Anyway, for these main accounts, we agreed to restrict certain roleplay only to our mate– the idea here is, even in our gaming, our avatars will uphold the sanctity of our RL marriage vows (be they so duplicated by our handfasting rites performed initially in SL) so, when either of our avatars are in-world, with each other, alone, or in the company of others, we agree not to engage in any sort of play of a romantic or sexual/sensual nature- the idea is, we don’t want our avatar’s pixels or indeed our own emotions or thoughts to be engaged with anyone other than our mate. There are a few schools of thought on this subject, which I will touch upon later, and give some short “case studies” from real world events you may ponder.

One may ask, how does a couple progress from a game’s virtual fantasy encounters to real world physical relationship? At what point do we cross over from “the game” and enter real-world territories of sharing personal information, skype, cams, cell phone, instant messaging, and the like?

For RileyGene and Star, we met in February 2009 at a now defunct virtual dance and strip club (Club Lean) she co-owned with a girlfriend of hers (Arva), and there, after some visits, I became one of the resident DJ’s. My job was spinning music, taking requests two nights a week, which later became three nights a week, shifts often lasting for hours.

At the time we met, we were both in “virtual relationships” with other people; Granted, I was dating a Brazilian woman (of perhaps questionable stability, like much of SL) who was playing in SL perhaps in defiance of her RL, and RileyGene was dating a man who positioned is avatar as a “furry” man – that is, part human, part animal, (e.g., neko, kitsune) – though he was more interested in running a (virtual) store and doing scripting and such, more so than having sexual interplay with his pixels, though, RileyGene was quite interested in the later so employed the use of an “Alt” (we’ll call her Amira) for sex, which I will touch upon later.

Thus, RileyGene’s partnership was said to be a business one, even though it was the equivalent of marriage in SL, and mine, well, it wasn’t optimum and it was wrought with its own issues since I took things perhaps more seriously than I should have. So, you now have a glimpse into the kind of odd people found in SL, myself included!

Back to our story though, as virtual co-workers, RileyGene and I saw each other for brief moments every night, and over the course of several months we established a good friendship, went on some virtual dates together, and this bloomed into something grander. We then partnered in SL, and would stay logged in for hours on end, overnight at times while our avatars lay naked holding our RL bodies slept– Total mushy love in the virtual world which logically crossed over and grew in the RL. We awoke to each other’s SL avatar and RL voice just as if we would do so if actually living together in the RL.

Around July that same year, having awesome love blossom and flourish between us, we mutually decided the relationship would go further, and made plans to meet up in real life.

She came to be with me for a few weeks in San Francisco, and then I came to live with her in Canada after that. On my visit to Canada, while we were snuggled watching “The Italian Job” (c.1969) I popped “the question” and she said “yes.” In September, we married in Reno, NV and I’m now living with her in Alberta.

Our relationship is one of the exceptions though. I read somewhere once that 85% of online relationships just don’t work out or never mature to any tangible state, or people being people for whatever reason decide not to take things any further than they have existed in the fantasy world, and fine be it left at that, sometimes it’s a mutual thing and other times one person decides to drop it much to the dismay of the other.

Of course that’s just a brief synopsis of the events which occurred, and I don’t feel compelled to blab about my personal life experiences for all the world to see, just to put it out there that, that’s how we met, and yes it did lead to a happy lasting marriage, because of who we are in RL though, our compatibilities and love and everything, not just because she has a sexy voice and avatar, but because of who she IS, and who I AM, that’s what made it work and continues to hold it together today.

About jealousy, suspicion, virtual “issues” . . .

I’ll touch on a few things here just to give the prospective SL couple something to think on. Due perhaps to the anonymous nature of SL, or indeed Internet chat and email in general, it’s easy to take things out of context when you can’t read someone’s body language or facial expressions. There are stalkers and perverts and demented disturbed people online just as there are in real-life, of course, it’s not as easy to detect this behind the guise of an avatar.

On that note, let me talk about Gorean sims. On average, Gorean books contain lots of sex, so, likewise, the virtual sims where Gor is played are generally adult themed (i.e. sexually explicit) lands.

Is pixelated avatar sex that good?

Let’s take a look at the basics of avatar sex and what factors it may be appealing– these same factors will also draw the most prudent or sound minds far from SL, because there are no real checks and balances.

One appeal of avatar sex and its fantasy is the lack of accountability, not having to face consequences, not having to answer to anyone or any commitments, not having to make an effort or sacrifice yourself to get a reward, and not having to register yourself into a database whereby law enforcement can run a background check on you and monitor illegal activity (without some earlier cooperation from network savvy folk or the grid owners Linden Labs themselves).

So let’s rant a bit about scammers, charlatans, manipulation, that sort of thing. This content rating is getting into adult territory now so if you didn’t expect that you should perhaps leave and go look at cute puppies or kittens or something else now.

In SL, one can easily proclaim fake or attest “real” undying love to anyone (or a thing) and revel in the fantasy as long as the other person (or people) buy into it, because there are no real world constraints, no inhibitions, you can’t read someones real expression or body language, you can do kinky things like BDSM without the risk of causing real world injuries, spreading disease, or even death.

Someone could have virtual “quickies” and watch avatar pixel-sex which appears perhaps as good as any similarly scripted (yet interactive) porno movie, while mutually masturbating and typing erotic “emotes” to the other typist (or even have a sort of audio voiced phonesex) along the way. With today’s media and streaming technologies, sure you can webcam someone, but really once you get past the pixels and avatars and such, and are doing webcam sex and voice chat and all, then you aren’t really doing the virtual world anymore, now you are doing real-world interaction, even if behind the confines of a net connection.

For lonely singles or people with a real-world disability that prevents them from engaging in RL social activities, you may see the appeal — mind you, some people just want to hang out or dance or play sports/games or what not, while others are on the prowl for sex and sensual virtual experiences.

On the other hand, for someone who is otherwise engaged in a healthy RL relationship, partnership, marriage, or the like, one may question if it is right for their partner to involve themselves in this sort of virtual playing (even if totally fake and in the fantasy realm) and indeed what harm can it do?

What does this virtual sex play do to someone’s psychological or mental health, or that of their mate? How does it compare to someone engaging in Internet sex chat rooms, or frequenting real world singles bars, when they themselves are betrothed or committed to someone outside of those playgrounds?

In other words, the moral dilemma may be, is it the same thing to tease and flirt or even have virtual sexual encounters with someone in a “game” of sorts, as it is to have them in real life? Well, I guess that’s a semantics issue — yes and no. You don’t normally engage with someone physically (does masturbation fall into that category? What if you yourself are not masturbating, but the person with whom you are virtually speaking and interacting with, is?) In the virtual world, one doesn’t generally exchange real world information with anyone, such as your geographical location, because after all, you don’t want some love-lorn or psycho person arriving at your doorstep looking to meet the person behind the avatar.

Indeed, nobody generally knows f the avatar you are controlling is a man or woman typist behind it (or she-male or bisexual or transsexual or whatever variant), and people don’t generally know your real world age or marital status, indeed, if you are hiding behind an avatar and engaging in what would otherwise be prohibited sensual play with someone, without your real-world partner knowing, and indeed if the whole idea is that you are pretending to be a single person who is online having fun, and have no intention of telling your real world partner that you are doing so, and nothing in your profile says to the contrary (that is, the purpose of your online presence is a deception), then, are you having an affair over the computer? Does it “count” to have virtual sex games since they aren’t real?

Believe me, this stuff has crossed my mind and other people I know who have experience in the virtual world. If you are into Second Life (or other VR) for any length of time, you will understand where these crazy ideas come from.

Ok, just for example let’s take the time you would normally spend sharing and talking with your real world partner, what if that time is spent online gaming? How many husbands or wives have nagged you about their mate spending too much time checking email, surfing the web, or playing games instead of giving them attention? Indeed, how many people can say their partner’s hobbies, TV shows they like, or other interests are known to cause the same tensions?

As these are questions I often ask myself, when I present myself online, I don’t do it in a way that negates or invalidates what is really going on in my head and life — I am happy to have my wife and don’t want people to get the wrong idea of me, and I don’t profess to give others the wrong idea by pretending I am something I am not..

Is this a rant? Maybe so.. Let’s move back to topic though and talk about SL’s general avatar appearance. I can get back to the rant later.. In the next part!

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