Nadine Nozaki
Not all avatars are interested in sex, you know. Some just want to cuddle.
Helen Popkin
By contributor
updated 8/16/2007 5:54:03 PM ET 2007-08-16T21:54:03

A civil lawsuit alleging stolen software that allows Second Life citizens to have more realistic sex begs the question … just who exactly are all these people having sex via their online avatars?

No, really! Do you know? Is it you? Is it your best friend from junior high? That lady one cubicle over? Is it your 38-year-old son who somehow missed a turn in high school and is now still a virgin living in your converted basement? As a celibate single avatar and Internet enthusiast, I really want to know.

Frankly, most of the minutiae surrounding Second Life sex maker Kevin Alderman’s lawsuit against the mystery avatar “Volkov Catteneo” who copied and sells his creation is kind of dull. It’s your basic copyright infringement case. Where Internet property is concerned, we’ll be having that slap fight for years. And it’s not nearly as interesting as talking about sex.

I mean, duh! Sex powers the Internet. Prudey-squares may argue, but cyberspace wouldn’t be nearly as fast and efficient if there weren’t legions of dudes anxious for their porn to download — and industrious types bustling to become the fastest sellers of that porn.

You know the Consumer Electronics Association’s annual conference coincides every year with the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, right? That this Alderman genius masterminded sex software so desirable some guy stole it and presently sells it successfully to imaginary people in cyberspace is a big marker on our way to Web 3.0 … or whatever Tim O'Reilly is fixin’ to call it.

That’s why I’m so keen to get a bead on these people engaging in such activities. Not people doing it for art or their thesis, but real people who are doing it for the doing-it's sake (so to speak). I’m fairly familiar with a variety of cybersex practices up to this point, as well as the people who enjoy them. I had these roommates who used to play “To Mess with a Perv ” long before the “Predator” version was even a gleam in Chris Hansen’s eye. All day and into the night, they’d stare into their overclocked K-Pros, chain smoking, chugging Diet Cokes and luring perverts into chat rooms where they’d draw them out and then give ‘em a good shaming. For fun.

Then of course, there are the standard naked sites. With the porn stigma practically vaporized, most people I know who utilize such sites for personal gratification are pretty open about it. (Though you’re right, if they weren’t, how would I know?) But such people of my acquaintance don’t have the attention span, imagination or dexterity to deal with Second Life type sex. So who exactly does?

Yes, yes I realizethat there are like, a jillion articles readily available on a Google news search about people and their “Internet addictions,” and online affairs destroying their offline relationships. (FYI: Here’s an excellent one .) But the people in those stories almost never use their real names. And even when they do, I don’t know them.

And I have so many questions. How long did it take for you to fully master (so to speak) Second Life sex? Was it worth destroying your marriage? How would you explain this to your children and/or Grandma? Did you ever meet your special avatar’s offline entity and if so, was that person as hot, hotter, or the complete hideous opposite of his/her avatar? Or, did much to your surprise, “him” turn out to be a “her” or vice versa? Do you have a picture? Can I see it?

My best guess is that in the real world, most of these sexually-active avatars are not a punk rock pixie chick with pig tails, a tutu and full sleeve tattoos — which pretty much describes 87.6 percent of Second Life’s avatar population. Roughly. Nor, I bet, are most of them even half as adorable in real life as a punk rock pixie chick with pig tails, a tutu and full sleeve tattoos. More like a cross between GenCon and Def Con attendees is my wager.

Oh come on, Web trolls! You’re not gonna get all indignant and insulted and blast me in your blog on account of I bandied some avatar/hu-mon geek stereotypes for comedy purposes, are ya? Why, some of my best friends are geeks! Plus, even if you’re a hardcore Second Lifer whose avatar has very impressive prowess, if you can’t laugh about your animated alter ego making whoopee, you’re doomed. And the rest of us are doomed by proxy. (If you just don’t find me funny, that’s a whole other issue entirely which I am not presently equipped to address, though rest assured, in this case the World is safe.)

Meanwhile, I’ve simply got to upgrade my home Internet connection.

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