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  What’s the Truth About the Sex Industry in ‘Second Life’?  
 
 
Posted 2007-02-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
At last year's South by Southwest conference, Reuben Steiger (then of Linden Lab, and now of Millions of Us) spoke as part of a panel entitled "How to Be a Virtual World Entrepreneur," where he revealed that roughly 30% of what goes on in Second Life is comprised of "naughty economy" transactions.

Today, prominent Second Life blogger James Au posted a "Sexual Census of Second Life," where he first says "it's never been clear how that [30%] figure was arrived at," and then goes on to say the 30% figure is "just about the strangest claim in the world." Instead of 30%, he guesses wildly, it's "maybe much less" than 5%. Later, he goes after a critic, imagining that "30% of commerce in Second Life is sexual is totally far-fetched." Yeah. Except that it's totally not far fetched at all.

At. All.

Now, we do not have a reliable indication this year (that I am aware of) of the level of sexually-based transactions. Nor are we likely to, as Linden Lab is surely terrified of revealing just how much porn its residents are into. But if I had to make a wild guess, I'd say it's the same percentage as last year. Thirty. Not frikkin' five.
 
     
 
   
 
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  54 Comments  
 
   
 
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
February 8, 2007 @ 11:08 pm
     
 
SecondCast did an episode where they had the creators of the Xcite attachments (which enable role play as they talk and physical interactions) used mostly for sex - they have a higher price than most other things too (twice as much as a basic house for example). I recall the chap in the podcast quoting something along the lines of 25 000 of these units being sold so far - and this was august last year when the regular users were around the 60k mark. I may even suggest therefore higher than 30% if you count sensual dancing, paid for non-physical RP escort services, inworld avatar and printed porn and so on. My intuitive guess 40% sex, 30% fashion, 20% house/gadgets, 10% services/game fees etc...This is not including professional economies of real estate and brand builds...

But like you say 5% is way off the mark...

Gary
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 8, 2007 @ 11:57 pm
     
 
Yes, that was a good SecondCast episode. Where do you reckon the gambling industry fits in with the others you cited? I'd guess it's close to sex-based transactions.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 9, 2007 @ 1:07 am
     
 
> Except that it's totally not far fetched at
> all. At. All.

Really? Then what's your metric for saying 30% is plausible? Do you have verifiable numbers, or is it entirely an assumption based on an offhand comment at SXSW that's up for interpretation?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 9, 2007 @ 2:18 am
     
 
> This is not including professional economies
> of real estate

Why not include that? Thousands of Anshe Chung's tenants pay her millions of L$ a month, thousands of other tenants pay other land barons more millions a month. That could easily be 30% of total transactions right there, I'd think. 30% for fashion sounds about right, I'll go with 20% house/gadgets and 10% services/game fee for the sake of argument (but come on, just 10% for Tringo?) And we're not even factoring in vehicles, banking systems, camping chairs, charitable donations, publications, etc. etc.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by qDot
February 9, 2007 @ 2:51 am
     
 
I could totally comment on this, but I'm simply to awesome to impart wisdom upon you now (read: My fucking god I am so far out of the loop).

And, speaking of, you bitchez comin' to SXSW this year?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
February 9, 2007 @ 2:55 am
     
 
Sure Hamlet,

The real money as we know is subscriptions to Linden and land rental/buying. Real dollars and factors above what is spent inworld on social activity - and that is an interesting mix to try to work out by either:
1 - Getting LL to do an anonymous aggregation of everyones transactions across a non-metatagged range of goods (in terms of product category) and release the figures
OR
2 - Those very familiar with SL and who can hone in on trends based on experience, friends, their own habits, speaking to vendors etc etc compiling a 'straw poll'

I don't think no.1 will ever be likely so I was, like Tony, garnering opinion on the likely breakdown of inworld purchasing. It does come down to definition too - is fashion or avatar adornment (clothes, skins) and the other categories sex related? I may even suggest buying a hyper-realistic skin and corresponding revealing clothes could fall in that category too, but we get into very subjective areas. I believe though if you forget the skins but also add in the BDSM and other sextoy related purchases it will still be in the 30-40% ballpark

A middle ground way to do this would of course be to contact all the vendors inworld and ask, via questionairre, to anonymously reveal (as if) how much they are earning and a breakdown of their product range...but with MUVE tax considerations that is as unlikely as no.1 above. Even individuals will not reveal their inventory of course.

So we are sadly left with speculation. So lets speculate and through wisdom of the crowds get 80% there...and a final point, if second life is an 'internet' mirror of first life (which many agree is the case), and pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry in the real world...why would it not make up a significant element of inworld activity? From This report

"Internet pornography is now an immense and lucrative online industry, generating
earnings of more than $12 billion (ed: roughly equal to the combined annual revenue
ABC, NBC, and CBS.) One out of every 8 Internet websites is pornographic, and there are
over 400 million pornographic web pages on the net. Over the last eight years, the
number of Internet porn sites has increased 30-fold."

GH
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 9, 2007 @ 3:09 am
     
 
> The real money as we know is subscriptions to
> Linden and land rental/buying.

I'm also referring to the L$ tenants pay land barons, surely a huge percentage.

Far as comparisons to the real world porn industry, my same argument would apply there: no matter how big RL porn is, it is supported by industries which are far larger than it, in aggregate. Medical examinations, A/V and film equipment and post-production, clothing and make-up, real estate rentals, catering, transportation, DVD transfer and distribution, web development, Internet hosting, plastic surgery, etc.

It was actually this Boing Boing post on the RL industry which got me thinking about the SL analog. If the media has totally overstated how big the porn industry is, maybe the same mistake has happened with SL?

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/01/04/media_overestimates_.html

"Media overestimates porn industry's girth, say indie producers"

... Here's an interesting snip from Luke Ford's blog, back in July 2006. The guy he's interviewing is Greg Zobary, of Zeborary Insurance Services -- a broker who covers porn productions:

Luke: "Do you think there are any millionaires in the industry who are solely employees?"
Greg: "No."
Luke: "Do you think there are any billionaires in the industry?"
Greg: "No way."
Luke: "Maybe this isn't a $12 billion a year industry."
Greg: "It's a $400 million [DVD] industry, maybe $500 million. The industry went out and promoted these figures that included strip club revenues, hotel revenues, etc and came up with this [$12 billion] figure, hoping it would lead to the legitimization of the industry. What it has really led to is a bunch of idiots who watch this stuff and think that porn is the new gold rush. They jump in and produce a few movies and think they're going to get rich. Everyone I've seen who's done that has walked away with no money. We no longer insure these people. They don't stick around.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
February 9, 2007 @ 4:06 am
     
 
ummm, deja vu - dont want to swap stats as that gets one nowhere as we well know...interested in the quote from Mr. Zobary and particularly this part which certainly has it parallels in new emerging industries too ;-) I have generisized for clarity, insert your 'hype' here...purely for fun!

and came up with this figure, hoping it would lead to the legitimization of the industry. What it has really led to is a bunch of idiots who play this stuff and think that it is the new gold rush. They jump in and produce a few things and think they're going to get rich. Everyone I've seen who's done that has walked away with no money. We no longer insure these people. They don't stick around.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Ace Albion
February 9, 2007 @ 9:44 am
     
 
Well, at 30% that tells me that 70%, ie the Significant Majority of SL transactions are NOT related to "eww gross icky". So hooray for the morally upstanding world of SL.

That said, I know *fine well* what use most of my cheapo low prim buildings are being used for- placing sexgen beds/rugs in at 600 metres, that's what. You want to add my prefab sales in there too? :)

Sidenote- Xcite does not enable sexual roleplay, it crushes it, dead.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 9, 2007 @ 9:55 am
     
 
>...what's your metric for saying 30% is plausible?
> Do you have verifiable numbers, or is it entirely an assumption based on an offhand comment at SXSW that's up for interpretation?

James, why do I have to have a metric? That 30% statistic you so loudly ridiculed as being preposterous was provided by a Linden Lab employee. That is as verifiable as it gets. Obviously I don't have an inside view of Linden Lab and how they come up with their numbers. If there is an assumption here, it is that the company provided an accurate statistic. 30% is plausible not only because it seems like a reasonable number to most people who cite it, but because it's ostensibly a fact.

I was at the panel where Reuben cited the statistic. My clear recollection is that it was not an "offhand comment" at all. The statistic was cited in the context of discussing resident businesses and the types of transactions that take place in SL.

First, you gave the impression that the 30% statistic emerged from thin air as some vacuous blogger meme. Now that it's been pointed out the statistic actually came straight from the horse's mouth, you've changed your tune. Now it's the Linden data that's "offhand" and needs to be independently verified by anyone citing it. Except that it's impossible to verify for anyone outside Linden Lab. Ergo, you win the internet!

See you guys at SXSW, maybe some tequila shooters will smooth things over.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 9, 2007 @ 2:35 pm
     
 
Again, Tony, it doesn't seem clear to me at all, and now it's even less so. Since the 30% figure seemed implausible the more I thought about it, I assumed Reuben's SXSW comment was referring to 30% of very top 20 sites, which do tend to be sexual. But rather than assume anything, I did something I strongly recommend in general, for me, you, and bloggers in general-- I e-mailed Reuben and asked him to explain what he meant. And he just did, in the post's Comments:

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2007/02/a_census_of_sec.html#comment-60068614

"If I am the source of that oft-quoted and admittedly arbitrary, absurd and altogether meaningless '30%', let me take a stab at explaining where it came from.

"At last year's SXSW, Peter Ludlow, gave a presentation pointing out the various unseemly bits of the Second Life economy. In it he discussed not only adult activities, but also griefers, and a variety of non-adult activities. As the token Linden in attendance, I was asked what percentage of the Second Life economy was 'naughty' (isn't this beginning to sound a bit like a Monty Python skit?)

"I think what I said was something to the effect of 'Naughty isn't something that you can do an SQL query against' and then went on to say that there's a healthy amount of it, just as in every promising early medium, the net included."
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 9, 2007 @ 7:05 pm
     
 
James, you left out the part where Reuben told you "I think your argument is a little lame."

Given the amount of negative attention my notes from Reuben's panel received, I'm surprised he didn't take the opportunity at that time to clear up the "absurd" statistic I attributed him as citing. I told him on the phone after the panel that I'd take down anything that was factually incorrect.

Given Reuben's statement today, I have cause to wonder how often Linden Lab has publicly cited arbitrary, absurd and altogether meaningless statistics. It seems to be often enough to confuse people trying to follow its platform seriously.

I love how I catch flack for doubting the Lindens, but I also catch flack for taking them at their word.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 9, 2007 @ 7:34 pm
     
 
But *did* you take Reuben at his word to begin with? According to him, by "naughty economy", he was referring to "not only adult activities, but also griefers, and a variety of non-adult activities". That rubric would include a lot more than sexual content. In any case, it sure sounds like it was an offhand estimation, since he qualified it with "Naughty isn't something that you can do an SQL query against." So it wasn't represented as a concrete statistic.

Yep, Reuben thinks my argument is lame, and that's fine. I don't blame him or for that matter you for being skeptical, because I swallowed the 30% meme for quite awhile. Until it suddenly occured to me how crazy that would be. You can fly over whole continents of commercial content without seeing anything sexual-- but if it's 30%, one in three things you see in the world should be pink and wet or purple and engorged.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
February 9, 2007 @ 8:20 pm
     
 
"Sidenote- Xcite does not enable sexual roleplay, it crushes it, dead."

Conclusions from independently-derived and verifiably-accurate data only please.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Intellagirl
February 9, 2007 @ 9:57 pm
     
 
Perhaps the qualities being measured aren't clear? Is this 5%-30% based solely on the funds spent to engage in virtual sex or is it broader? Really, we could justify a whole lot of expenditures as efforts to have sex: clothes, skins, homes, cars...the list goes on and on. I'd like to know exactly what was counted.
Intellagirl
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 10, 2007 @ 3:21 am
     
 
My God, this is totally nuts. Five percent? huh?? Even 30 percent is very low. I estimate that the figure is more like 60 percent or more.

First of all, it's very shortsighted to look at only sale of actual genitalia or X-cite type equipment, or only sale or blue movies. That's only part of the sex economy. The other big part of it is land, sexual furniture of various kinds, poses, outfits, paraphernalia, pictures.

I've noticed a real change in the way people behave in rentals. Over a year ago, I would actually see people just socialize, with open windows, in PG mode. Or they would build, or make elaborate gardens, or putter around with inventions, amateur or professional. I could always see a certain percentage of people engaged in that sort of creative and PG socializing effort. People also used the rentals to hold events more -- discussions, yard sales, philosophical debates, games of various types.

Today, I see more like 80 percent of the rentals involved in saturation sex, in almost a grim mode. I've got a blog draft I must complete to explain more about this. But it's definitely more sex, more elaborately violent and BDSM sex, and more efforts to create maximum security around the partners.

I think it's absolutely safe to say that sex absolutely drives the SL economy in a thousand ways. The main reason people buy land is to have sex on it. The main reason people go to clubs is to find sexual partners. The main reason they show for clothes is to appear sexy. The challenge these days is actually to find the other non-sex related activities. Oh, sure, yeah, we know there is some self-help group meeting, hundreds of universities, blah blah. But this is the minority of activity. And a lot of those actors are out getting sex, too, after they finish their other stuff.

So Intellagirl is asking the right question. And frankly, the Lindens, who secondlifelog EVERYTHING, HAVE these answers. They used to appear as a running ticker on the first page, and you can still glimpse that ticker oddly enough on the sign-ups page. The "last 10 items purchased in world" used to routinely have things like "dancers' tip jar" or "X-cite this or that" or "Barbie club" or whatever.

The Lindens took that ticker off the front page where it used to run, because it revealed that most of the activity in Second Life was sex and gambling. No, people weren't buying little miniature copies of "Snowcrash" and earnestly tipping book club jars...
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
February 10, 2007 @ 7:13 am
     
 
OK - amazing how many folk dont read earlier parts of a thread. So yes we have been through in the first posts:

1 - the SL sex industry is very broad (people join SL to have sex, the sky box industry thrives on it, skins/animations etc and much flirting leads to it [not all!] and so on).

2 - That like a real world analog, Hamlet agrees that the sex industry is supported by many others.

3 - Linden quite rightly will want to cover up much of the 'naughty' activity because that will put an uppper limit on subscriptions.

My original desire though was for a straw poll to find out using wisdom of immersed crowds, what the percentage may be:
Hamlet - 5%
Tony/Reuben - 30%
Gary (me) - 40%
Prokofy - 80%

So after a simple bit of math so far leads to an average likely sex trade as percentage of inworld social trade (not including Linden subs and land purchase or rental) of ...drum roll... 38.75% .

Any more SL'ers who have deep insights wanna throw in their guesstimate, cause we ain't gonna get it any other way, certainly not from LL and certainly not from inworld 'tax nervous' vendors making a fortune ;-)

GH
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Gary Hayes
February 10, 2007 @ 7:15 am
     
 
correction prokofy 60% which leads to an aggregate of - 33.75%
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Intellagirl
February 10, 2007 @ 9:22 am
     
 
33.75% really isn't bad at all. Compared to RL it's about the same percentage for consumer goods if we're including sexy clothes, household items, recreation spending etc. I would agree with that.
Intellagirl
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
February 10, 2007 @ 10:25 am
     
 
Prok said: "I've got a blog draft I must complete to explain more about this."

I look forward to reading it.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 10, 2007 @ 12:58 pm
     
 
My blog is posted here now, I add links to this discussion and cross posted some of my comment:
http://secondthoughts.typepad.com/second_thoughts/2007/02/i_started_this_.html

Um, Gary, if you are going to invoke this oft-discredited concept of "the wisdom of crowds," you could at least uh...get a *crowd* to work with. 4 people isn't a crowd ROFL.

Re Ace's comment, "That said, I know *fine well* what use most of my cheapo low prim buildings are being used for- placing sexgen beds/rugs in at 600 metres, that's what. You want to add my prefab sales in there too? :)"

As someone who buys Ace's prefabs and also sees them deployed around various parcels on my properties, I can testify that they are used about 95 percent of the time for having sex in. That five percent is just what is not in use *yet* or *between partners* or until somebody saves up for the SexGen bed. The SexGen people must be coining money.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 10, 2007 @ 1:02 pm
     
 
>"Sidenote- Xcite does not enable sexual roleplay, it crushes it, dead."

I tend to support this premise. I think it's what most intellectuals find -- the Xcite is a crude and stupid device. It's associated with low culture and the masses.

But the people who buy it aren't intellectuals. They don't need poetry. They need a device in the world to do their talking for them, because they can't type at the time, their hands are busy *shrugs*.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 10, 2007 @ 1:31 pm
     
 
I think you're misreading *Wisdom of Crowds*, Gary; it's not just a matter of throwing random guesses into a hat. For the effect to work, each individual has to be able to look at the *whole* problem, and have enough resources to give an educated answer. A more useful start, IMO, would be to consider *all* the commerce and revenue sinks in SL, and then estimate what percent goes to where on any given month. For example:

- Sexual content and services
- Fashion and avatar customizations
- L$ rental fees paid to Resident "land barons"
- Casino games and other gaming fees
- Homes and housewares
- Camping chairs and other "free money" handouts
- Vehicles
- Weapons
- Contest prizes
- Textures
- Utilities (vendors, scripted devices, etc.)
- Charity, tips, and donations
- Lotteries and raffles
- Services (scripting, building, etc.)
- Linden sinks (group registration fees, etc.)

I'm probably missing many. But what percentage goes to each, would you say?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Shaowen Bardzell
February 10, 2007 @ 3:04 pm
     
 
Hamlet, your metric only works if you assume that each of them is discrete. If I understand you, buying a sex toy at Xcite would count, but the rent that a strip club pays to Ansche Chung would not. Tips for a stripper would count, but the texture for the floor on which she is dancing would not. The lingerie she takes off would go in your "fashion" category, and the tip jar itself would go in your "utilities" category. You would indeed get it down to 5% this way, but that's only because of your counting scheme; it says less about the actual role of sex in SL culture.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 10, 2007 @ 4:09 pm
     
 
Hamlet, the answer to this question was always available, in the "last 10 items purchased in world" that ran for ages on the front page as you well know.

Anyone could have hooked up an RSS feed or something to that to calculate the percentages of things pased on names and key words and locations.
And watching it constantly, any of us could see that sex and gambling were taking up all the transactions. That's why the Lindens took it down!
(It's now curiously only visible if you sign up a new account and look at the first sign-in page).

I've explained at length how rentals mainly *are* sex and to pretend they aren't is ludicruous.

Only by engaging in the most silly deconstructivism could you try to turn "housewares" designed to prettify what is essentially a sex nest into something that is "a whole different sector"

In Second Life, there are no RL needs like food and shelter. But there are SL needs which are sex and FPS.

The two great necessities of SL, sex and FPS, drive much of the activty, people gambling or selling at yard sales or sitting in camp chairs to get money for sex.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Brace Coral
February 10, 2007 @ 4:37 pm
     
 
Sex Sells

I'm not sure why LL is so shy about it.

And I do find it interesting the language that these discussions are always couched in.

Like sex is so bad. And trying to show SL in a light thats good, or better than That Which Should Not Be Evar Mentioned.

We as human beings are able to have sex at the drop of a hat. No need to sit around and wait for those pesky "in heat" times.

So our societies, entertainments, laws etc reflect that. Either by trying to downplay our inherent sexiness, or by emphasizing it.

Same old same old and who cares? I certaintly don't. I just think its amusing all this Ado about Nothing Much.

Its an integral part of life be it second or first.

Git over it.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 10, 2007 @ 5:20 pm
     
 
I disagree, Brace, and it's not because of some prudish attitude toward sex or the unwillingness to allow people to be free to pursue whatever sex they wish. They can and do.

For me, it's more about pronouncing the culture as one that has turned surly, obsessive, and exploitative.

In real life, sex, whatever its excesses, has a kind of "place". It is linked directly to procreation and having children for many people. It's linked directly to monogamous relationships that people maintain for years, even if that culture is waning. Sex is not something you can deploy at the drop of a hat in a mall or an office building just like that because you just can't chose to always have sex, given that you must also make a living in order to buy food and shelter lol. Not to mention that in RL, after a round of sex, you're ready for other things, like books, movies, sports, whatever.

In Second Life, the only point for many people to come on there is to have sex. That's their four hours of sex activity a day, as they may not get it in RL. So the culture and the society becomes sex-obsessive in ways that become extreme, unattractive, commodified, and aggressive. And as I've pointed out on my blog, people become as surly as junkyard dogs with the security orbs to protect their sex balls so no one can see them on them, or get on them while they aren't home.

This just doesn't make for a culture of a Better World. All the creative promise, the ingenuity, the genius, the great meeting of the minds is...postponed, derailed, distracted. It takes even more persistence. People who used to go to Thinkers meetings now prefer to have sex, is what I'm saying. After awhile, it all becomes rather a bore, don't you think?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Shaowen Bardzell
February 10, 2007 @ 6:04 pm
     
 
I don't agree with Brace's "Git over it" stance; I'm not Puritan, but a lot of Americans are (metaphorically speaking), and the perception that Second Life is a sex world, regardless of the merits of this perception, is likely to hurt more mainstream uses of it. (Not that I'm entirely behind mainstream uses of SL, either, but surely Linden Lab has the right to be.)

But I want to be very clear also that Prok's opposition between (a) "sex" and (b) "creative promise," "ingenuity," and "genius" is an oversimplification that cannot withstand scrutiny.

I have been researching Second Life's sexual subcultures for two years, using a number of established social science methodologies. This much I can say with confidence: Second Life sexual subcultures can be and have been productive of innovation. People exploring their sexualities in Second Life sometimes (though certainly not always) lead to innovations in design, technology, education, storytelling, and other major forms of culture.

This is another reason I object to Hamlet's "is it sex?" accounting system. It does not take into account ways that innovations in sex become mainstream after the fact. How many people's first texture, script, 3D model, or animation is sex-related, only to have them convert those skills to other uses after the first thrill of 3D visualized cybersex goes away? The result is a lasting contribution to Second Life the began in a sexual context.

I think the most fairminded position is to acknowledge that while anyone may be uncomfortable with certain aspects of Second Life's sex culture, the fact is that sex is a part of Second Life's culture. And like other important cultural phenomenon, it can be productive of innovation, be it socially desirable (e.g., advances in scripting and animation) or undesirable (e.g., stereotyped and sexualized depictions of race and gender).

For this reason, serious analytic methodologies need to be developed for the study of sexual subcultures. It is not enough to use intuitive makes-sense-to-me methodologies. If some of Second Life's most established cultural explorers can come up with answers as varied as "sex is 5%" or "sex is 60%" of the Second Life economy, it is safe to say that we don't have a handle on the issue. And flame wars in blogs won't get us one.

Innovation and Second Life sex is a primary area of my research. I don't yet claim to have all the answers. But these are serious questions deserving thoughtful answers. If any one out there wants to take it up with me, contact me offline.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Intellagirl
February 10, 2007 @ 6:23 pm
     
 
Shaowen: I'm glad to see someone taking a serious academic interest and studying this area of SL culture in a methodical way. What do you think the impact of the findings will be? Will they merely inform us about the use of virtual spaces, perhaps influence the way people use the spaces in the future? What relevance will the findings have?
Intellagirl
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Urizenus
February 10, 2007 @ 8:10 pm
     
 
Reuben's recollection of what he said at that SXSW panel is absurdly off the mark. He very explicity stated that Linden internal tracking of transactions showed that the economy was 30% sexual in orientation. It had nothing to do with the griefer economy, whatever that might be, and he clearly stated 30% and he clearly stated that these were tangible in house Linden numbers. Now maybe he was making that shit up, but it sure as shit is what he said.

My thought at the time was that it was low, since it would only track those objects that are clearly labelled as sexual in nature (pose balls, sex toys, virtual dongs, sex furniture, tip jars for dancers) etc.. The Linden's have no way of knowing how many of those prefabs are being used as sexy skyboxes, how many of those skins and hot outfits are going to escorts etc. And then there is the economy that goes off grid -- paypal for webcam performances etc.

My own guestimate is that at a bare minimum 50% of the purchases are directly related to the virtual sex industry, excluding gambling which is difficult to quantify, since there is a huge amount of back-and-forth movement between player and gambling machines.

And no, Hamlet, you can't possibly be serious when you say that you can cross the continent without seeing sexual content. That is absolutely not possible unless you close your eyes for the entire trip. Sexual content is quite simply the most salient feature of the SL landscape.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Shaowen Bardzell
February 10, 2007 @ 8:31 pm
     
 
What do you think the impact of the findings will be? Will they merely inform us about the use of virtual spaces, perhaps influence the way people use the spaces in the future? What relevance will the findings have?

Those are some big questions, but I'll do my best to sketch a picture. While the academic study of sexual subcultures can certainly inform us about the use of virtual worlds, which is important for cultural criticism, I also believe that there are important design implications, both for designers of virtual worlds and other interactive platforms and also for any interaction designers who are interested in the intersections between affect and innovation.

A huge buzzword today is emergence. Everyone wants to design for it. But we don't fully understand it. Why does one platform take off when another doesn't? How do we protect IPs from abuse or unorthodox use? How and when does the originator of a platform hand off the creation of value on that platform to its users? I'm not going to answer those questions by myself, of course, but I hope my research contributes to our development of such an understanding.

One strategy we might use to learn about how to design platforms for emergence is to study places where sophisticated emergent behaviors and cultures are taking place and try to understand the conditions of their possibility. One good place it to look at guilds in WoW, and lots of people are doing that. But I believe SL sexual subcultures are another good place to look. Take Gor, for example: whatever else one might think about it, there is a lot of cultural production going on there, from its extensive poetry-filled libraries to its architecture, interactions, fashions, narratives, rituals, institutional structures, legal system, communications infrastructures, and so on. Here is a large group of people who have embarked on a large-scale interactive simulation of a series of novels, which has drawn the interest, talents, creative energies, and money of thousands of people. CNN may not know anything about Gor, but to me, that's a lot more interesting than IBM recreating a virtual boardroom to carry on business as usual.

It seems to me that desire, and sexual desire is but one form of it, is a major force in this kind of innovation. And if we are afraid to talk about sex, or if we feel that we must endorse someone's sexual behaviors before we can acknowledge that they might have some value for their participants, their communities, Second Life, and all of society as a whole, then we remain blind to them and slow our own ability to discover innovations that create lasting value for all of us.

I have a couple of papers on these subjects working their way through the publication process and a lot more in the works. I'm excited by all of the innovative things SLers are doing, pervy or otherwise, and I am also encouraged by the reactions to my work thus far.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Brace Coral
February 10, 2007 @ 11:20 pm
     
 
Riddle me this...

Lets say philly stands up and says in front of the world and everybody that.. ok lemme pick a number... 72% is the actual figure.

And lets say he's totally transparent on how that number was derived. You know, charts and graphs and all that crap to back his statement up to everyone's satisfaction.

So now we have an accurate, verified, indisputable figure.

Sooo ..... whatcha gonna do next?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 10, 2007 @ 11:33 pm
     
 
Shaowen, re: "People exploring their sexualities in Second Life sometimes (though certainly not always) lead to innovations in design, technology, education, storytelling, and other major forms of culture."

You could only say this if you are either neutral or a cheerleader for BDSM. If you think that ever-new implements of torture, ever more realistic gags, goads, shockers, prods, fisters, kneelers, cages, humiliators are *technical innovation*; if you think every more elaborate offshoots and versions of Gor and its works is "storytelling," and if you think ageplay is "education," then I'm going to ardently and even stridenly disagree with you that this is "culture" or "progress".

It's not. It's the disintegration of civilization. Don't mistake it for something it's not.

Seriously, I don't see ever new forms of poetry-making and idyllic elven glens with languishing ladies in long gowns. oh, there's that, and Caledon has worked up a lot of that imagery in particular and may be a positive example of "culture" laden around a spoof of repressed Victorian sexuality that is utterly belied by the skyboxes 250 m2 above the staid moors. But that isn't what's for sale. That isn't what's in people's home. The things that are in people's homes are metallic, mechanical, sharp, painful, and ugly. I guess people use them because vanilla sex of the virtual kind has become utterly predictable and boring for them, and they don't mind playing BDSM when a welt or a scratch is never left on a real body. It's sad, and I believe it corrodes the spirit.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 10, 2007 @ 11:35 pm
     
 
>For this reason, serious analytic methodologies need to be developed for the study of sexual subcultures. It is not enough to use intuitive makes-sense-to-me methodologies. If some of Second Life's most established cultural explorers can come up with answers as varied as "sex is 5%" or "sex is 60%" of the Second Life economy, it is safe to say that we don't have a handle on the issue. And flame wars in blogs won't get us one.

I'm with Urizenus on this one. There is no sane and useful way to study virtual worlds populated by anonymous asstards who behave badly. You need tabloid journalism and drama blogs to get it right.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 10, 2007 @ 11:43 pm
     
 
A huge buzzword today is emergence....CNN may not know anything about Gor, but to me, that's a lot more interesting than IBM recreating a virtual boardroom to carry on business as usual.

These days, I reach for my gun, every time I see somebody wind up the pitch for

Um, there's nothing terribly interesting about a lot of mediocrities replaying a third-rate series of novels by a professor in Queens lol. Seriously, let's not upgrade this too far, shall we? Mass cults take root quickly in games and worlds where people need to be told what to do, and there's never a shortage of those who are only too happy to tell them what to do. Let's not get all giddy and goosy about this being some sort of neo-geo culture that we should all get breathless and gag-about. It's actually a very old and tawdry story.

What's particularly annoying about the "emergence" gang these days is that they pride themselves on being so meta, so neutral, so scholarly and unjudgemental and multi-culti, that their brains fall out and they utterly lack any judgement or credibility. The emergenistas think that we can't judge the quality, value, relevance, or need for these "emergences" and we must ever "study" them, becoming actually fiercely protecting of their dysfunctionality and imagining ourselves to be banding against the evil Man who is on a Congressional or gambling commission somewhere eager to put them out of business.

But we can judge them, and we can even take a different direction that doesn't celebrate them or give them their head to obliterate the public space. It's not ok for me in the public commons to have a lot of idiots referring to themselves in the third person, and dragging other idiots around on collars that choke them. I'm sorry, but really, somebody needs to stand up and say this. If you could see how the flame wars get started on this on SL-related forums, you'd see about 6 comments in, someone will tell you that they now find that someone is wearing a collar and dragging another on a collar in RL at a bustop, and that's ok.

But...it's not ok. And I think the same folks who are bending over backwards and letting all these cults and dysfunctions spread endlessly and virally without comment have to be willing to concede that the anti-cults and the pro-functional that don't wish to see a generation of people turn into such zombies online are also "emergent" and also have every right to exist even in the multi-culti landscape (or should).

Ultimately you *do* have to ask if this is a Better World, of the kind Philip Rosedale always talks about. And I don't think we should shirk from saying: no, Philip, it's not.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 10, 2007 @ 11:46 pm
     
 
>It seems to me that desire, and sexual desire is but one form of it, is a major force in this kind of innovation. And if we are afraid to talk about sex, or if we feel that we must endorse someone's sexual behaviors before we can acknowledge that they might have some value for their participants, their communities, Second Life, and all of society as a whole, then we remain blind to them and slow our own ability to discover innovations that create lasting value for all of us.

*Rolls eyes*.

Um, it's not about being "afraid of sex" if you criticize Gor. It's not about failing to "find value". It's about pronouncing a fairly third-rate silly cult to be what it is. As has always been the case of those empires wishing to have control over masses of human beings, the Goreans have innovated mainly in making giant works of architecture that dwarf the individual and make him cower in the face of the state's power.

So...as I said, old story, not new story.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by qDot
February 11, 2007 @ 12:23 am
     
 
You guys sure can take the sexy outta sex.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 11, 2007 @ 12:26 am
     
 
No, it's because it's not sexy to see implements of tortue, qdot.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 11, 2007 @ 12:59 am
     
 
Uri, I checked my 2006 e-mail, because I just remembered Reuben mentioned the SXSW talk in a March '06 message about another subject, and what he told me then is pretty much consistent to what he just posted on my blog. Including LL's inability to run a SQL search for "naughty". I'll ask his permission to repost that portion of the e-mail, if you like.

More key, it doesn't even make *technical* sense that LL could compile meaningful numbers on sexual transactions-- how, for example, could they definitively ascertain when one Resident was paying another for sexual services, versus something else? I don't think a text analysis AI program to do that with any degree of consistency exists anywhere.

Even more key than that, Uri, baby-- common sense. If 50% of commercial content was sexual, ONE IN TWO of every buyable object you see in the world should be a dildo or whatnot. If 50% of commercial transactions are *directly* sexual, then how did Anshe come to own a million dollars worth of sims, primarily through land rental fees? If 50% of commerce in SL is sexual, then what percent are all these prominent industries and revenue sinks?

50% - Sexual content and services
? - Fashion and avatar customizations
? - L$ rental fees paid to "land barons"
? - Casino games and other gaming fees
? - Homes and housewares
? - Camping chairs/other "free money" handouts
? - Vehicles
? - Weapons
? - Contest prizes
? - Textures
? - Utilities (vendors, scripted devices, etc.)
? - Charity, tips, and donations
? - Lotteries and raffles
? - Services (scripting, building, etc.)
? - Linden sinks (group registration fees, etc.)
? - Interest-bearing savings (Gingko, etc.)
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 11, 2007 @ 1:46 am
     
 
Hmm, I predicted you'd would be stubborn on this, and that's exactly what's happening!

>how, for example, could they definitively ascertain when one Resident was paying another for sexual services, versus something else? I

Dance tip jars, key words like members of the Bimbos are Us, etc. -- or location, i.e. if it takes place on Amsterdam or Hard Alley. They could even manually select 1000 accounts with visible markings of being call girls to flag and watch their transactions.

>how did Anshe come to own a million dollars worth of sims, primarily through land rental fees?

You're kidding, right Hamlet? You surely ARE kidding. What do people do on Anshe's sims? Do you think they are all scripting and building for the Electric Sheep and reading Howard Rheingold prim books, painfully by slow-rezzzing sheet by slow-rezzing sheet?

No, Hamlet, they'are having sex on that land. As much as they can, with as many variations and positions as possible.

I would wager to say that the majority of groups in SL now, or at least a very goodly chunk, are the groups you are forced to make for $100 in order to take a deed on a private island purchase. Or groups like Free Sex. Seriously, Hamlet, you need to get in world and fly around some more, dude.

Why do people save at Ginko's or play the slots? To raise money. To pay rent or buy land. To have sex on.

Surely you could back off the 5 percent at least, Hamlet, even if you take the strictest possible construction, and only count the following things, you'd have to admit that they make up more than five percent of the economy:

o Teleport or Locked Pay Doors in Sex Clubs
o Porno film rentals (big business!)
o Prim genitals
o Animations (at $200-$250 a piece, this is a huge chunk of the economy, and the richest avatars are in this line of work)
o Animated beds like Sexgen -- expensive, and everyone has one
o Sexy outfits
o Toys, animated furniture
o Pictures

Lots more stuff I can't even imagine.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
February 11, 2007 @ 10:25 am
     
 
"No, it's because it's not sexy to see implements of tortue, qdot."

Question #1: Subject enjoys viewing male full-frontal nudity? [ ] Yes [X] No
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Urizenus
February 11, 2007 @ 12:10 pm
     
 
Hamlet, I don't know what Reuben said to you in private email. I'm just telling you what he said in public to an audience of 40 or 50. If there was an SQL search it wouldn't have been on a single word like "naughty" but a basket of things like "sex animation", and "fetish" etc.

Finally, you say this:

"Uri, baby-- common sense. If 50% of commercial content was sexual, ONE IN TWO of every buyable object you see in the world should be a dildo or whatnot."

No, it would in fact be the case that one in two of every dollar SPENT would be a dildo or whatnot -- the whatnot including fetishware, poseballs, sexy skins, private parts, pornographic art, whips, kneeling animations and pillows, ponyboy and ponygirl outfits, Dolcett spit me and grill me kits, a full range of Gorean fashion, various torture racks and cages, and on and on. Yes, even that gynophagia loving Toronto area graphic artist Dolcett get's mainstreamed in SL.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 11, 2007 @ 7:06 pm
     
 
Recollections are transient, Uri, and so are rough notes. As it happens, the panel was recorded for a podcast, so here's *exactly* what Reuben said (about 60% into the talk):

http://player.sxsw.com/2006/podcasts/SXSW06.INT.20060314.HowToBeAVirtualWorldEntrepreneur.mp3

"Roughly, we can estimate 30% of what goes on in SL is to the left of whatever line you consider naughty. Itís tricky in our case, because naughty is subjective, a, and b, we can only measure things, because it's so huge, based on sort of clever database queries, but that's what we sort of think. I think what's interesting is compare that to the early Internet where, in the beginning-- I don't know how many of you folks remember-- but it was all porn, there was a day when everything is porn, and now, depending on how you measure it, I think it's about 30% porn."

So when he said "30% porn", he was talking about the *the Internet in general now*, not Second Life. And when he said 30% of SL activity is naughty, it was couched as a totally subjective, undefined term, and as a rough estimate-- "it's tricky... we sort of think". More key, that was a year ago, when the active user base was far smaller, there was a lot less influx of outside money and complex projects and businesses and content, so whatever Reuben meant by naughty then (and by his own take, it's totally up for personal interpretation), it's unclear what utility his statement has now. As I say, I tend to suspect the unambiguously naughty stuff is a much smaller part of the economy now.

But really, rather than keep aggegrating our wild guesses-- or worse, keep repeating this totally questionable 30% figure-- I'd like to see more thorough, substantial studies on the economy as a whole. As I say in my post, I'm offering to help any academic who's interested in becoming a Castranova of the SL economy:

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2007/02/a_census_of_sec.html#comment-60116158
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Shaowen Bardzell
February 11, 2007 @ 10:23 pm
     
 
But really, rather than keep aggegrating our wild guesses-- or worse, keep repeating this totally questionable 30% figure-- I'd like to see more thorough, substantial studies on the economy as a whole.

Thank you! Before I got Prokked-on, this was the main point I was trying to make. It's interesting to blog about these things, but in addition, they also deserve serious, systematic attention.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Urizenus
February 11, 2007 @ 10:25 pm
     
 
Jesus H. Christ Hamlet, what on God's green earth happened to your elementary english comprehension skills? How can you possibly take this:

"we can estimate 30% of what goes on in SL is to the left of whatever line you consider naughty. Itís tricky in our case, because naughty is subjective, a, and b, we can only measure things, because it's so huge, based on sort of clever database queries, but that's what we sort of think"

to be saying this:

"when he said "30% porn", he was talking about the *the Internet in general now*, not Second Life.:

You are so desperate in your everlasting need to shill for the Lindens you now translate "in Second Life" as "not Second Life."

Honest to God I really like you dude but this is becoming theater of the absurd. Could you try to read what Reuben said with a shred of honesty?

The transcripts confirm what Tony and I said Reuben said -- that they estimate 30%, based on data base queries. And of course we get that picking the naughty queries is subjective -- that's why I think a better dialed in set of queries would yield a figure of 50% or more.

Why is it so important to you to sanitize SL and rewrite history in the process. That is a dangerous game for a newspaper editor, I would think.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 11, 2007 @ 10:54 pm
     
 
Uri, this part of my post--

"when he said '30% porn', he was talking about the *the Internet in general now*, not Second Life."

-- was referring not to SL database queries on objects, but to what he said here:

"I think what's interesting is compare that to the early Internet where, in the beginning-- I don't know how many of you folks remember-- but it was all porn, there was a day when everything is porn, and now, depending on how you measure it, I think it's about 30% porn."

In that sentence, he's speaking about the broader Internet, not SL.

It's not about sanitizing Second Life, Uri. It's about understanding what exactly is going on in there, and making an honest, verifiable, rigorous effort to do so. Reuben's 2006 statement about database queries for "naughty" objects is so vague and avowedly subjective it doesn't gain us much-- especially when we're now talking about an economy that has added roughly 3 million accounts, 250,000 active users, and 50,000 landowners since then, not to mention millions of dollars in corporate and non-profit activity.

Which is why I propose to reach out to academics or economists who could do a Castronova on SL. It could be I'm wildly underestimating the sexuality in Second Life; then again, it could be that you're wildly *overestimating* it. Would you like to help me find academics who could pursue the question more definitively?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 12, 2007 @ 12:20 am
     
 
Um, you may see fit to call it being "Prokked on" because I've pointed out that Gor isn't exactly a civilization to be encouraged, given that it subjugates women as slaves, but HEY, I'll just be like OUT OF STEP with you all, and in step with Salon.
http://archive.salon.com/books/feature/2000/05/18/gor/index.html

Or a good science fiction critic:
http://www.strangewords.com/archive/gor.html

>But really, rather than keep aggegrating our wild guesses-- or worse, keep repeating this totally questionable 30% figure-- I'd like to see more thorough, substantial studies on the economy as a whole.

Uh, we got all that miles ago. But then the way to do that is to question it, if you must, but not by claiming "five percent". That's just ridiculous. And 30 percent seems not even persuasive, given the heavy number of high-priced sex-related transactions.

Yay, Uri. Better dialed-in would only yield more than 50 percent, I assure you!

Reuben's 2006 statement about database queries for "naughty" objects is so vague and avowedly subjective it doesn't gain us much-- especially when we're now talking about an economy that has added roughly 3 million accounts, 250,000 active users, and 50,000 landowners since then, not to mention millions of dollars in corporate and non-profit activity.

This is a hugely tendentious statement. Leave aside the reiteration of the fake numbers. You have to look at the transactions per month. And here, no rocket science awaits us.

I wish people seeking numbers reality checks would mention this useful little table:

Monthly Spending by Amount (2007 January)
Transaction Size Residents
1 - 500 L$ 86,710
501 - 2,000 L$ 28,700
2001 - 5,000 L$ 20,655
5,001 - 10,000 L$ 14,610
10,001 - 50,000 L$ 25,609
50,001 - 100,000 L$ 5,622
100,001 - 500,000 L$ 4,880
500,001 - 1,000,000 L$ 569
Over 1,000,000 L$ 505
Total Customers Spending Money In-World 187,860

Notice how many people spend money: 187,860. That's the number of real people in Second Life. Very few people fly around and never spend even one dollar -- it's very hard to do. Everybody will spend at least a dollar now and then. So...that's your number, folks.

Now, look at the rest of it. Sex poses cost $250 and the Sex-gen and whatnot costs thousands. So do the math. Run the file numbers with the obvious names. Look in each segment of that table. Tell me how you could POSSIBLY get anything less than 50 percent sex-related.

The tiny percentage of residents in the mid three figures who deal in very large transactions are land dealers exchanging Lindens for US dollars to buy islands. But the fact is, a goodly chunk of that land is used for having sex on, all the time the owners or renters are on line, so even that line goes to the sex industry.

The millions of dollars in corporate and non-profit activity are at this juncture utterly dwarfed by the sex industry. The American Cancer Society only raised $40,000 US; that's what a land baron spends in a few days on island purchases and staff. Where's them millions spent by big business INWORLD in LINDENS???? They spend it on islands outworld, and pay staff outworld.

Did IBM spend more than $187.27 US this month on...prefabs or something? Seriously. You cannot be blind to this reality.

The corporations and non-profits may increase their percentage of the economy some day, and the sex industry will diminish. That won't happen by punishing it or by attempting to minimize it.

Oh, and thanks for "keeping me on ignore," Hamlet. That's such a "mature" practice for someone of your position. Pre-banning me from your blog before I had ever posted a single thing on it was also oh-so-mature. Perhaps someday you will stop be scared of your own shadow.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Brace Coral
February 12, 2007 @ 6:02 am
     
 
"You guys sure can take the sexy outta sex. "
zzzZZzzzz...
hellz yah
geez!

"No, it's because it's not sexy to see implements of tortue"

*laffs till I nearly pee my pants*

Booty is in the eye of the beholder, darlin. dayum!

Aaaand... still noone has bothered to answer my question. Which pretty much answers it for me, in that regard.

I rest my case.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 12, 2007 @ 10:02 am
     
 
Booty is in the eye of the beholder, darlin. dayum!

One of the ways you ensure that people always have the liberty to determine what they find to be "booty," is to speak out, and defend another turf against that those who insist that "booty" involves implements of torture, sadism, bondage, violence, and slavery. Otherwise, they so invade the public commons that they make their tyranny the norm : )
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Ace Albion
February 12, 2007 @ 10:33 am
     
 
"As someone who buys Ace's prefabs and also sees them deployed around various parcels on my properties, I can testify that they are used about 95 percent of the time for having sex in."

/me feigns outrage and shock. Pass the salts!

I know what goes on- I only have to press my alt key when at my store watching customers check out houses to see the truth light up in transparent red.

I'd like to muddy the waters further. What about when an artistic/educational sim is funded entirely out of proceeds from generic "household stuff" sales. Given that most of the "household stuff" market is mainly about decorating personal sex locations. Isn't that, in a way also sex related? If nobody was buying accessories to snaz up their pancake beach love nests, the sim wouldn't exist?

I would like to make one point- even if SL is effectively propped up 80% by money that's chasing sex, well, look at what it acheived. Then compare that to something like RedLightCenter/Utherverse, an online community focused solely on hook-ups and animated sex.

Most nations are built on sweat and blood- what's the bodily fluid of creation for SL? Is it literally the Enki world creation myth from SnowCrash but "crowd-sourced" (eww) in a Myth 2.0 style? :)
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Urizenus
February 12, 2007 @ 12:22 pm
     
 
Hamlet, the problem is this: Reuben clearly stated that they had done data base quieries and determined that 30% of the transactions in SL were "to the left of whatever you consider naughty." For you to then turn around, and argue thus is off the hook:

"it's never been clear how that [30%] figure was arrived at," it is "just about the strangest claim in the world." and it's "maybe much less" than 5%, and "30% of commerce in Second Life is sexual is totally far-fetched."

It is *entirely* clear where that 30% figure came from. Reuben said it in public when he was working for Linden Lab and he said it was based on clever data base queries. Far from being totally far-fetched, it happens to be the only statistic we have that is based on internal Linden data base queries, and they happen to come from someone (Linden Lab) with and interest in low-balling the numbers rather than inflating them.

It is also entirely clear what his reference to the internet was about -- in effect he is saying "well, SL is no worse than the internet as a whole".

Honestly, now you are trying to spin this as you simply calling for a reliable economic study of the matter, but sorry, no one is opposed to that. The critical issue here is that Tony and I accurately reported the 30% figure as coming from an employee of Linden Lab, and you came along and said "it's never been clear where the figure came from".

Finally, while I'm all for more study of the matter, I would simply point out that only the Linden's have access to the data base information, so even the sainted Ted Castronova won't be able to tell you anything without access to those. Furthermore, you seem to think that if an economist like Ted conducts a study the numbers will no longer be subjective, but of course the subjective element will come in with the decision of what to classify as sexual -- and no economics class tells us how to proceed there.

Perhaps the useful thing would be if Reuben or someone at Linden Lab told us precisely what categories of transactions went into their data base queries that yielded the 30% figure. that would be far more useful than a vague covering term like 'sex' or 'porn' or 'naughty'.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Hamlet Linden
February 12, 2007 @ 5:33 pm
     
 
Uri, I didn't say "it's never been clear where the figure came from"-- I said "it's never been clear how that figure was arrived at". After listening to Reuben's SXSW comment, it's even less clear to me now how what he said has become the unqualified, unexamined claim that 30% of SL commerce is sexual or porn, both of which I've heard or seen in the SL and mainstream press. (Even one year later, when the world has grown so much.)

Reuben's "whatever line you consider subjectively naughty" is not the same thing as "sexual commerce". As you note, Reuben didn't say what objects were queried, didn't say how extensive the query was, and most key, didn't say how "naughty" was defined. (Were genitals counted? Call me a liberal San Francisco freak, but I don't think genitals per se qualify as "naughty". And what about when genitals are used just for aesthetic reasons or non-sexual clothing-optional events? We don't know. Was lingerie counted? We don't know. Is lingerie part of the sex industry? Not in the real world. And so on.) Now Reuben says the 30% figure is arbitrary and meaningless, and because none of those specifics were given, I tend to believe him.

I did e-mail Philip for that story, asking for some more specific queries, so if he offers any more concrete information, I'll post it. Ultimately I think object queries or even user-to-user transaction queries from Linden Lab won't help much, for reasons I stated before. The better way to go would be extensive in-world interviews with otwners of night clubs, real estate rentals, casinos, sex clubs, etc. and report on their revenues over an extended period.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 12, 2007 @ 6:02 pm
     
 
Um, Hamlet? If you don't find prim dicks to be related to sex, then I look forward to you appearing in public at oh, the Reuters Atrium next time in Second Life, wearing nothing but your prim dick (you *do* have one I trust? For aesthetic purposes only?).

Seeing as how you are a liberal San Franciscan, I think this will be able to prove that at least one prim-dick purchase in this world was not related to sex.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Urizenus
February 12, 2007 @ 10:41 pm
     
 
Hammie, we *understand* (i) that none of us know what they keywords were in the database queries and (ii) that any such selection of keywords is subjective. That's precisely why some of us suppose that the search was skewed to help Second Life look cleaner -- for example not including prim genitals as you propose. But this doesn't mean it isn't clear how the numbers were arrived at. What isn't clear is precisely what they keywords were. We get that. We really do.

Alright, I've vented enough about this, so let me just ask this.

This is at least the second time it has generated a serious shit storm over the question of who said what, and it would be interesting to have a record of what really went down. Is there some way to get a transcript of that session made?
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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