Please note: this guest post is by Aemeth, not Gogo. It is in response to this entry on NWN.
When I first announced quitting SL last year, I said the grid would die in 2017. But before that, I said, it would experience a shrinkage. The next grid LL would experiment on would fail. They wouldn’t produce another one, and would try too late to save this one. The community would see another mass exodus. Then, copyright would become a bigger problem with less creators putting out fresh items, and even less staff to enforce violations. And finally, the cost of keeping the game running would no longer justify what users were putting back into the system in terms of land rentals and subscriptions. There might be a fundraiser to put a stoppage on the drain, but it ultimately wouldn’t prevent water from funneling down the pipe.
I now think the grid might die in 2019. All things come to an end, and I believe the heat death of SL is inevitable. The grid is shrinking and we have to face it: all users need to have an exit plan in place. If you make money on the grid, you need to start thinking about where you can go from here.
This isn’t to make anyone panic, and the shrinking of our community isn’t to say there aren’t benefits. I feel I appreciate my fellow creatives more. I feel like exploring what’s left on the grid while I can. I look for dive bars, I visit old, primmy carnival sims, and I wander through forgotten stores on Mainland. I run around Wastelands and have fun trying to kill buzzards and attempting not to starve to death from their game HUD. I go to all the beaches I can, judging them by composition and talking to Gogo about which ones we prefer the most. I go to The Chamber, put a drink in my hand, dance on a stripper pole in an old lady outfit, and laugh at how all of the props I’m wearing makes me look like a washed-up entertainer that feels she’s too good for her audience.
I have fun because this won’t be forever. It can’t be forever. Eventually we will all have to say goodbye to this place, and whether or not it’s sooner or later we could argue, sure–but that day is coming closer and closer and I believe we are all feeling the pinch.
Bukkake Bliss used to be a joke to visit with friends. We put on tshirts, straw hats, adjusted our heights, and put a polaroid or camcorder prop around our necks to pretend we were newbie tourists. Then we got on group voice chat, walked around, and observed everything. Later on, I showed the same area to my then-boyfriend, who was new to the grid and wanted to learn what I was doing in SL. I showed him around the grid to get him to understand both the best and the worst of everything.
“First,” I said, “I’m going to show you Tableau,” and I did. He loved the dinosaurs and theatre area. It was colorful and whimsical all at once. Then I showed him some other places I loved: Juicybomb, my shop, Mad Pea, and The Pixel Bean.
Then I showed him the sex sim. He said it was awful. It looked like a ratty 3d adult website with ads and pictures strewn everywhere. If some Tumblr kid into aesthetics saw it, they would take pictures of it for an art project. Under any other view, Bukkake Bliss had little value other than the furniture that was set up in a rudimentary manner.
“This is the worst place,” I said, “because a lot of people just log on for sex, come here, and don’t see anything else. They won’t go enjoy other kinds of sims, sex is all they want.”
Some avs were humping a short distance away as we were talking. Their movements were jerky and outdated. My ex became uncomfortable and asked if we could go.
But later on we went to Elysion, and he didn’t think that was so bad, even though we both knew the sim had sex there too. But it was tasteful to us; we thought it was more humanized. It was decorated well and felt like the people who ran the sim cared about more than just poseballs. We cuddled on a couch in the living room and giggled as we tried the cages in the library. We liked it because we felt there was effort put into the place instead of HERE POSEBALL HAVE SEX SIT HERE.
When I tell someone I play SL, the first thing they tend to ask is if I’m having sex on the grid. That’s why I don’t tell people often; it annoys me. I’m here to have fun and make things. They wouldn’t get why I sit around 1951 or dance at Old Lar’s. I do appreciate some adult places, and I even bring friends along who pick up others and take them “home”. But I think there are far too many sims that look absolutely awful and get too much media attention. When somewhere you visit regularly is stereotyped for its virtual ghetto, you’d be annoyed too.
We need to think about what to do to extend the life of our grid.
Journalists are going to think what they want when they visit. I live in a city where despite all the good stuff we try to spotlight, reporters still take pictures of our dilapidated buildings. There’s so much ruin porn taken of our city, that it’s what we’re known for. It’s annoying and along the same kind of thing Second Life is dealing with.
The only way it’s going to get better is to write about the positive things. Journalists don’t have to pretend adult sims don’t exist, but cutting down on the virtual ruin porn would probably help. Doing an article about a grid attempting to support a community and escape a stereotype would be a good idea, too. And don’t forget, sex workers on the grid are still people. They do things in their spare time. Many people have sex worker alts because they don’t want the stigma of being known as a dancer or an escort on their main. We should show them more respect.
Second Life wasn’t perfect when we came here. We know LL will only do so much for the game at this point, and we know there are a lot of things about the grid we find unfair and frustrating. Yet, we choose to stay (or come back) anyway, because something about this place is what we need. Maybe it’s a sim or an item. Maybe it’s each other.
I believe this is a good time for everyone to reflect on what keeps them here. When you find that thing, talk about that thing. What keeps you here? Maybe we need more of that thing. Then others can find it and stay with us too.