There has been quite a brouhaha over the last few days regarding an article about Second Life.
The article, written by Eric Grundhauser for Atlas Obscura, was a great piece about some historic locations in Second Life.
The brouhaha came when New World Notes published an article saying that the article by Grundhauser was misleading.
Now, I don’t want to get involved in the whole mess – if you’re interested, read the articles (including the comments).
But after reading the NWN article, I was left with questions.
The article contained a graph showing the top 25 most popular Second Life sims.
I’ve seen graphs like it before, and almost always, regions marked as ‘adult’ are at the top of the list.
Which leads people (including the article’s author), to assume that sex is the biggest draw for Second Life.
I think we’re all aware that sex is present in Second Life, just as we’re all aware it’s in RL.
But does a rating of ‘adult’ mean that sex is the ONLY thing happening on that sim?
Honor McMillan had the same questions, and actually visited a few of the sims on the list.
Her blog post reports a few of her discoveries – none of which included sex.
So what do the maturity ratings for sims actually mean?
I went researching and found a page in the Knowledge Base with the definitions.
There are several reasons a region must be labeled ‘adult,’ but the one that caught my eye was if it ‘hosts, advertises, or publicly promotes photo-realistic nudity.’
I go to a lot of dance shows, and many of them are ‘burlesque’ or ‘cabaret’ shows.
Some of them have dancers who strip to full nude.
While the maturity ratings information says ‘burlesque’ dance clubs can be considered moderate, the definitions for ‘adult’ are ‘broadly defined,’ according to the Knowledge Base.
Given that violations of the TOS could result in loss of your club, parcel, sim, and banning of your account, some club/sim owners may choose to err on the side of caution when choosing the maturity rating.
So perhaps the number of adult sims has more to do with the lack of strict definitions than it does with the amount of actual pix sex taking place?
In looking back over the NWN article and the graph of sims, of the top 25, only 13 sims are labeled as ‘adult.’
The other 12 sims (48% of the most popular sims) are rated as ‘moderate’ or ‘general.’
If you only look at the top 10 most popular sims, 5 (50%) are ‘adult,’ the rest are not.
If you narrow it to the top 5 sims, only 2 are ‘adult’ (40%), 2 (40%) are ‘moderate’, and 1 (20%) is ‘general.’
It seems that while sex is popular in SL (just like in RL), it isn’t the only thing people are interested in.
Given the purposely vague definitions of ‘adult’ and the possible consequences of violating the TOS, simply rating a sim ‘adult’ does not mean that it will contain ‘extreme violent and sexual content.’
For myself, I have chosen to be able to access sims of all maturity ratings.
If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to access ‘adult’ sims which produce high quality dance shows that happen to sometimes contain ‘photo-realistic nudity.’
It also means that every search on Marketplace will likely have male genitalia as some of the ‘most relevant’ hits for me. -.-
At the end of the day, the whole affair seems like a ‘storm in a teacup.’
I’m sure it got the author some nice traffic stats, though. 😀
What’s your take on maturity ratings?