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Role-players amok in Second Life

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Next, there is Gor, another large RP context for which a good deal of background material exists. Gor is the fantasyland of author John Norman, whose many sci-fi books describe a planet populated by captured humans and administered loosely, and more or less in absentia, by advanced alien bugs. There is a huge Gor community in Second Life with their own very large territory, and a role-play culture based on the sci-fi novels.

The Gorean culture is conveniently human, and conveniently unburdened by Earthly inhibitions. It's essentially a paternalistic, tribal slave society, with cultural elements drawn from Greek, Roman, Viking, Native American, and early European roots. Women are essentially property, and this supports a great deal of BDSM-themed role-play, although it tends to be heterosexual and male dominated.

Of course there's much more to it than that: players adopt roles such as priest, warrior, merchant, peasant, and the like, and they enact these roles in far more than a sexual context. There are also freelance characters such as hunters and outlaws, as there are everywhere. There are various cities with distinct cultures, and various hunter tribes as well. Some cooperate, and some compete.

The online version of Gorean role-play has evolved independent of the books, so there are occasional differences between the world of John Norman's texts and the online worlds that Netizen role-players inhabit. Purists will have to lighten up a bit of they decide to play in SL.

Again, the ability to move about, create scenery, erect buildings, design costumes and artefacts, and interact with others in an animated environment has contributed much to Gorean role-play on line. It's not unusual for Gorean sims to be very detailed and lovingly built. I've visited a few of SL's Gorean sims, and observed some RP there, although I have not participated.

And I do not expect to participate, as Gor in Second Life is a world within a world, with its own rules and conventions separate from the mainstream grid. Actually, the regulations in many Gor sims are so mind-numbingly elaborate that they are off-putting to a visitor or observer. If you just want to enjoy an occasional RP, Gor is not the place. It's almost as if you have to become a citizen first. The lists of foods, drinks, animals, plants, places, and roles one needs to memorise in order to function at even a basic level are far more trouble than the role-play would ever be worth to me. Not everyone will feel the same, I know, but many occasional role-players will find Gor to be too much. It definitely requires a commitment.

Some rules can be quite odious to outsiders. There are sims where, for example, one consents to the possibility of force-collaring. This means that you would become the slave and property of whoever collars you, if you should wander into the wrong place. If you teleport away after being captured, you might be violating the sim's rules, and this could be brought to the attention of Linden Labs. It's really quite irritating if all you want to do is look around.

However, this is easy to defeat without breaking any rules, if you should end up making a mistake. First, you need to set up your SL client in Edit / Preferences / General / Start Location, and choose "My Home". If you don't own land, don't worry: "My Home" will launch you in one of the newbie hubs. So, if anything goes horribly wrong in a Gor sim, you can just shut down your SL client and log in again. There's no rule against that.

Of course, excessive regulation isn't the norm for all Gorean sims in SL; there are many different Gorean subcultures on the grid, even if most subscribe to an overarching theme established by the books. So if this sounds intriguing, by all means search about. Goreans are a very large minority population on the grid, so they are very easy to meet.

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