ATLANTA - The 3D virtual-reality community Second Life is confining adult content to an age-safe "red light district."
Second Life is imagined and created by its residents. The free, online virtual world has included adult content, which is part of the community experience.
But now, Second Life parent company Linden Lab will be placing all content it deems "adult" in a separate area of the site that will require age verification to enter. Additionally, members who own the content on their virtual "land" will have to flag the material so it can be filtered out in search results.
In a company blog posting, Vice President of Customer Relations Cyn Linden writes, "We must ensure that all residents can enjoy the virtual world. In particular, it has become clear that some residents are interested in pursuing certain 'adult' activities in Second Life that others would rather not casually encounter."
What constitutes adult content is yet to be defined: Will it extend beyond sex, as some residents engage in slavery, fetish domination and such?
Linden Lab plans to consult with Second Lifers over the next six weeks to determine which material should be placed in the adult ghetto. This could include spots such as the virtual version of Jenna Jameson's Club Jenna, CJ City, and the clothing-optional Hedon resort beach club.
"We will introduce guidelines and define what 'adult' means, we will explain how to designate and flag this content, we will introduce the 'Adult Continent' and we will implement technical changes to make this process as efficient as we can," said the company blog.
According to The Washington Post, Second Life generates $35 million each month in real money from the virtual economy. This figure includes sexual transactions, in which participants can conduct virtual business as strippers and hookers.
Some wonder why Linden Lab saw the need when it already has an adult area on the site, has employed age verification before and clearly states the site is 18-years-and-older, offering TeenSecondLife for those under 18. The speculation is that the creation of a new adult area would eliminate porn from the site's main grid and offer greater mainstream appeal.
"This is not about teenagers in Second Life or the Teen Grid," Linden wrote on the company blog. "This is about providing a choice about the kind of experience people want to have in Second Life, which is fundamentally an 18+ service."
Linden told New World Notes that the creation of a 'virtual Amsterdam' in Second Life would help businesses and education groups "to feel more comfortable about what they encounter."
The customer relations VP estimates two to four percent of Second Life mainland would be relocated due to adult content.
Eros LLC operator Stroker Serpintine sells his SexGen bed on Second Life.
"For the last 6 years Linden Lab has seen adult content and expression proliferate across their
expansive grid," Serpintine told AVN Online. "This has been a panacea for them in their attempts at evangelizing the corporate remote meeting and academia markets. As an early adopter and adult content producer, I've enjoyed considerable success catering to these ravenous appetites"
Serpentine also wonders how the new adult content island with mandatory age verifiction
will sit with many site members, considering past history on Second Life.
"Last year, third-party verification was scrubbed as many Europeans and Canadians could not meet
the automated guidelines. According to estimates, these residents represent 60 percent of the population," he told AVN Online. "It became a voluntary 'opt-in' suggestion when the community outcry reached fervor levels. Over the last year several models of content and parcel flagging have met with limited results"
"This new policy will have a dramatic effect on the user base. Gone will be the 'wild west' anything-goes adult market, as it will be encapsulated and quarantined to a ghetto -- inaccessible by those failing verification," Serpentine said. "Current adult content producers such as myself have already felt the
severe sting of rampant IP Theft. This is going to be an interesting exercise in sterilization. Too much, too late in this artisan's opinion. So, where is 'Adult Life'? Stay tuned, the natives are restless."
Linden Lab explains its position that adult content is not appealing for all adult-age members in this FAQ on content controls.
For more about the real money made in Second Life's virtual world, see this February AVN Online report.