Tuesday, February 17, 2009


You've seen the tacky wedding favors, the horrifically suggestive 'Property of the Groom' t-shirts, the really bad bridal gowns, the disturbing cultural obsession with women driven mad by the quest for the one perfect day they will ever get to experience in their entire lives, the over-the-top cost add-ons....

...but you haven't been exposed to SLuv (Second Life love) and the Second Life virtual wedding.

For the blessedly uninitiated, Second Life is an online social networking site that is similar to online multiplayer role-playing games (MMORPGs), in that you go online in the form of an avatar (a digital persona/representation of self, commonly called an avi or AV) and interact with other people, who are also online as their avis. What makes Second Life (or SL) different from, say, World of Warcraft, is that there really is no 'game' to play. There's no plot or point or goal beyond what people create in the course of their interactions with others. While some people swear they just spend time "in world" (being online in SL) to do creative stuff like building virtual Romes or jungle paradises or Amsterdams complete with hookers, drug dealers and bicycles, the big attractions really seem to be A) dressing up and B) cybering, meaning finding other avis who will play on sex pose balls with you. Granted, the place is absolutely lousy with academics who are convinced that this is the cutting edge platform for cutting edge pedagogy and/or the ultimate Brave New World of social science field research, but I suspect half or more of them are getting jiggy on the pose balls from time to time, too. Anyone who's ever witnessed the Shriner's convention-like shenanigans that go on at the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association would find it fairly creditable that academic types in sexy avi guise engage in a bit of virtual bouncy-bouncy in the Neva Naughty virtual orgy room, when not holding online lectures about the real meaning of Second Life and hosting discussion groups on the great Foucault-Habermas debate.

Another, seemingly more benign (although I might question that) activity is to get really dressed up to the nines and hit Frank's Place for some flirtation and romantic couples dancing to jazz standards. I question this sort of activity being more benign than the do-it-yourself cartoon porn, because it's precisely these sorts of places that suck people into online romantic entanglements and emotional imbroglios.

Now, back in the old days -- and by this I mean 2006 -- it seemed like every time I turned around in world, I was running into some damn fool who was "getting married" to his or her Second Life boyfriend or girlfriend, fiance or fiancee, master or slave (don't ask...), lover, partner or what have you. More often than not, these folks had never met each other in real life (RL, in MMORPG lingo), and quite possibly had an RL spouse or significant other over in the next room, who may or may not be aware of the more intimate details of hubby's or wifey's little hobby.

It seems lately that I've run into fewer people playing the game in quite that fashion. Now it appears vampires are all the rage. An avi just can't turn around anymore without running into a vampire requesting a little nibble. It's gotten so bad, sim (virtual land) owners have starting putting up 'no bite zone' signs (you may enlarge any picture by clicking on it).

Well, fads come and go, and while the frenzy to get married to your sweetheart, Domysus Hotshot or Mistyfloss Mavendorf, has, perhaps, toned down, there's still a hopping wedding industry in world.

Indeed, the wedding-industrial complex has virtually replicated itself.

At $270L (270 Linden dollars, the in world currency) per dollar, I give you the ultimate wedding package at the Cobblestone Vineyard for $14,750L. That's only about $55... can you beat that in RL? For that fifty-five smackers, you get:
  • A private consult appointment with the bride and groom with consultants Rick Wake and Lori Nicholas (both with over 2.5 years experiance together planning weddings [sic]). We'll discuss all the details for the wedding ceremony, reception and the invitation and decoration selections to make your wedding day special.
  • Rehearsal for you and your wedding party to adjust all poses and go over the walk use for your wedding party.
  • All poses adjusted at rehearsal.
  • All poses will have the names of the wedding party on them.
  • Flowers of your color choice.
  • Dressing room for the ladies prior to the ceremony. Comes complete with [virtual] champagne.
  • Officiate for your ceremony with over 2.5 years experiance [sic] with couples from all lifestyles wed in SL.
  • Ceremony of your choice - Traditional, Renewals, Commitment, Gorean, Master Slave, Unity Candles, Gothic, FC Ceremony, Gay, Lesbian, and many others, all ceremonies in a religious or non religious version.
  • Wedding party assisted in getting up to the altar on the walks in an orderly fashion wedding day, both entrance and exit.
  • Two hour reception supervised by your planners after your wedding ceremony from start to finish which includes -
  • Cake of your choice, cake cutting and cake feeding poses for pictures.
  • Champagne display, poses for pictures for the toast.
  • Food and cocktail displays.
  • Intan Couples Dance Ball (28 couples dances), Intan Singles Dance Ball (66 dances, no freebie dances).
  • Garter animation chair.
  • Reception area decorated with flowers of your choice and carpet color.
  • Custom Champagne Glasses (copiable [sic]) with your name's [sic] and wedding date engraved on them for you and all your guests.
  • Custom Wine Bottle set out at the reception area with your name's [sic] and the wedding date, ribbon in your wedding colors on it on the neck of the bottle. Touch the label to receive a custom glass of Merlot, with your names and wedding date engraved on them. You receive the Custom Wine Bottle (copiable [sic]).
  • Dj for your wedding ceremony and reception, a notecard to fill out with your music selections for your wedding ceremony, reception music genre and any special requests.
  • Invitations (copy, transfer).
  • A Personalized Marriage Certificate, framed and texture (full mod), 18 to select from."
Pictures, flowers, programmed dances so you don't screw up the foxtrot, like David M and I are wont to do in RL, cake and champagne for $55? Sounds pretty good.

For additional expenditures, you can get four framed studio portraits of the bride and groom, etc., additional reception time, and even a honeymoon. Do you have any idea what we're spending on the trip to Kauai to go stay in a yurt? We can log on, stop eating, stop showering and only get up from our chairs for absolutely necessary bathroom breaks for a ten day stretch, but mating our avis in newlywed bliss in some virtual tropical paradise for virtually nothing.

I have not yet decided what to make of the virtual romance phenom, other than to suspect that it may be a little crazy-making (as opposed to being only what already crazy people do), and that it's not terribly uncommon, whether elaborately played out in SL or conducted via My Space.

By the way, this illustration here should spell out for one and all in no uncertain terms the difference between Internet dating, and using the Internet to maybe meet people to maybe date.

Sudie Dibou (aka me) puzzles over fairytale weddings in a fairytale land of make believe.

Dress shopping.

Dance poses so me and my guurlfriends can have fun pictures of us having fun to remind us forever of my fun bachelorette party.

Fun picture poses so my groom and I can have fun memories of the fun we had at the rehearsal dinner, although one must say, the dude looks a little distressed.

Virtual lingerie.
One thing that has to be said for it-- it's a whole lot more comfortable than the real thing.

Virtual bridal jewelry.
One thing has to be said for it-- it's a whole lot cheaper than the real thing.

A vineyard wedding venue.

I tried licking the screen, but it just tasted like plastic.

No host bar.

The bride can get plastered on honking-great martinis....

...make an ass of herself on the dance floor...

...and end the evening sitting on balloons sulking.

And just to prove that I'm not making all this up, a collection of real life Second Life wedding videos, from the land where all the women are enormous-breasted, all the men wear gangsta shades and all the children are grown-ups with child avatars:


Dee said...

On the one hand, I can kinda understand why SL and SLuv would be kinda fun.

On the other hand, those folks need to get a RL! I mean, where do they find the time for this kind of stuff? I'm way too busy, usually, to do much other than blogging! Sheesh.

MisAnthropology said...

Actually, it's not nearly as much fun as one might imagine.... Left to their own devices with no goal or plot to follow, most people are dreadfully dull, I'm afraid.