Fenton's just seen something he quite likes. Not because he's a sexual deviant, just because it's something rather polemic, and he does rather like to verge on the flippant.
The latest thing for sale in Second Life is rape. There are several different types of rape to choose from and you can also select in what way you participate - "Rape victim," "Get raped," or "Hold victim". Fantastic. Have a look at the cyber-shot below.
I'll attempt to keep this apart from a diatribe about what I think of Second Life, especially what I think of the agencies/companies who are cluelessly piling onto the e-wagon. From a societal point of view, I think the people who've first linked this have put an unnecessarily negative slant on the purchase of virtual rape, or virtu-rape. It set me thinking about the purpose and possible benefits of such a thing existing.
Japan, home of certain types of animated porn which have been known to feature multiple devil docks piercing the internal organs pubescent schoolgirls* also has the lowest number of reported rape cases and the highest percentage of arrests and convictions in reported cases of any developed nation**. The obvious argument lies that the rape might be happening but not reported. Fair, but there is no evidence to support that. So I'll go with the fact that Japan is a saintly nation of non-rapists. Nice one lads.
What's my point? Well, essays and studies like the one quoted above are far from uncommon, people have looked at pornography versus sex crime incidence and the overwhelming link is an inverse one. More porn, less raping. Great.
The point I am driving at, in my opinion, it's an inescapable fact that most, if not all humans harbour certain taboo desires, that's fine, it's normal. I think there should be a chance to express these desires in a cybersex-arena (like Second Life) rather than IRL as with the growth of the internet, you can't help feel that the growth of virtual environments will be primarily driven by sex and sexuality. One of the first plug-ins written and sold in Second Life allowed you to buy varying types of wang and probably tits as well, I dunno.
Second Life is mankind's first real foray into any type of mass interactive virtual world and I don't think it's very good, to be honest - I'd rather expose myself to an infinite loop of hentai. That is however, more down to technological limitation rather than it being a bad idea. The idea of a widely available interconnected virtual world is there, it will just have to become a lot more accessible and interactive on a much deeper level (possibly some type of direct brain-neurone interface whenever the guys at IBM get round to plugging in someone's head to Big Blue and flicking the switch) before it becomes universally used.
Something that writing this article sparked me to think about was an article I saw last week related to the effect of virtual reality and interactivity on memory. And how in increasingly interactive digital communications are more effective in embedding themselves in your memory than their static counterparts, your head-brain gets all confused as to whether x really happened or not. The extension of this would be to say that virtual reality implants false memories (or are they?) into your memory.
* I haven't actually seen this.
** From here.