Tal and Greetings
Welcome to The Gorean Compass “The Next Generation.”
I spent the morning in google reading several articles about this world we are presently occupying, and although I have been a participant in Second Life for almost 85% of it existence, it was an eye opening experience for me.
For example, I have been involved in many arguments and discussions over the years about the idea that Second Life is not a “game.” Some years ago, when I was traveling around the country on an extended camping and hiking adventure; an adventure that I called “The Great Gorean Adventure Tour” because one of the goals was to meet as many “real life Goreans” as possible, I spent a couple of weeks with a girl that I had met as a “slave girl” here in Second Life Gor.
She constantly referred to “in game” to describe her time in Second Life. Now, she was just one person using that term, but after getting to know her and spending that time with her, I realized that her saying “in game” made as little sense as if she had called a dip in the swimming pool “drying off” or a meal in a fancy restaurant as “going to starve.
Even the Wikipedia article on Second Life, which is fairly long and detailed, starts off with this paragraph.
“Second Life is an online virtual world, developed and owned by the San Francisco-based firm Linden Lab and launched on June 23, 2003. By 2013, Second Life had approximately 1 million regular users. In many ways, Second Life is similar to massively multiplayer online role-playing games; however, Linden Lab is emphatic that their creation is not a game: “There is no manufactured conflict, no set objective”.
A blogger by the name of Emmanual Maiberg posted this on the Website called “Motherboard” in 2016.
To an outsider, Second Life may look like a crappier version of World of Warcraft. It’s a vast digital space many people can log into with their virtual avatars, only instead of going on wild adventures, slaying dragons and collecting epic swords, it just seems like a bunch of people hanging out in bars, offices, galleries—normal places. That’s a fair assessment of Second Life, but what makes it special and lasting isn’t as apparent.
Yes, Second Life, which first launched in 2003, looks incredibly dated. Thirteen years is an eon in the technology business. There are massively multiplayer games that look prettier, bigger social networks that are better integrated to our daily routines, and video games that are far more fun to play. So why is it still hanging around?
The short answer is that there’s nothing else quite like it. Second Life was never just one of these things. It was a unique combination of all of the above—plus some weird sex stuff—that no other company has managed to displace. Even Second Life’s developer Linden Lab is hesitant to compete with it. ”
Of course, the idea of a game is not totally foreign to Second Life. There are games played within the game, so to speak. Many people are familiar with “Tiny Empires” or “Madpea.”
And this is usually the refrain of the pro “Second Life Gor as a role play game” argument. Gor is a game within the game in second life. They will concede that Second Life was not originally intended as a game, but as a user created world, where residents were free to create their own content, and so they used that freedom to create a “Gor game.”
That is a good point, too.
I have a analogy that I use often to describe the chaos that has been created by that “good point”, however.
Imagine a big empty field. That is essentially what the Second Life platform was at the beginning. And people were told they could come to this empty field to play a “ball game.”
They were also told that they could pretty much wave their hands and create the needed markers and goals and out of bounds sidelines.
Well, everyone thought this a great idea, and groups of them went out to the field to set up the playing areas. One group set up a bowling alley, and another a basketball court, and a third laid out a baseball diamond, while still another group was setting up soccer nets. Then they all started playing “the ball game”, but of course, they immediately came into conflict. One group was trying to throw the ball through the hoop, while another was trying to hit it with a bat and another were tackling whoever had the ball in their hands.
As hard as this might be to imagine, imagine the chaos. Especially since a couple of things are happening in this analogy.
First, everyone thinks they are playing the same game. It is called a ball game, right? and they are using balls.
Second, they can not understand why the other players are doing bizarre things that aren’t part of their concept of the game. Like for example, throwing the ball through a net on a pole, while everyone knows you are supposed to kick it through the goal on the ground!
This analogy could be the history of Second Life Gor. Everyone thought playing the “Gor” game was going to be a lot of fun, and they rushed into the empty platform created by Linden Labs and started playing their version of it.
And the big problem was that they were not Goreans. They were from Earth where, especially among internet users, the problems we discussed in some of these classes last year were deeply ingrained. We used signal words that had no cognitive meaning, and we tended to lump people into easily labeled groups that likewise had no meaning.
This led people to assume they were playing “the game” right, and everyone else was playing it wrong, if they indeed even bothered to notice that others were playing a different game.
Of course, there were things that bound us together. Mainly, the books, and the trivia of the Gorean World. But, these things existed in the analogy, too. Everyone was using a ball, and keeping score, and measuring the length of the game in quarters, or innings, or frames bowled.
Knowledge of what was in the books and the adaptation of some different cultural norms were the glue binding “Goreans” together, but it was really a weak glue, that would not hold, once we began to move from the very basic trivia into a more philosophical and intellectual examination of what we were doing, and why.
In a class last year, I referred to the whole Second Life Gorean experience as a miracle of tenacity. Despite the chaos of my analogy, we had survived for a decade here, and were even growing and expanding. I have been involved with several schools in the Gorean world over the years, and we dreamed and envisioned a place like “The Gorean Campus.” And now it has become a reality.
Groups, communities, cities, events, radio stations, real life relationships being birthed in SL Gor, and on and on, the list of our victories and successes grows each day.
And sometimes it seems like we have tipped the scale so that the good and positive things that we have accomplished here even begin to outweigh the negative. The deceits, the disappointments, the dishonest and hurtful people that have used this platform to prey on the most vulnerable. The failed sims, wasted money, and disillusioned people that have passed through here are sometimes forgotten as we celebrate our victories and fun times.
Human development and education has always relied on experience and rational understanding of abstract concepts that are passed on from one generation to the next. This is why the mother cat lets her babies go on their own after a few weeks. They are instinct driven animals and do not need to go to “school” to learn how to catch mice. But, we keep our children for years and years to train them for adulthood to insure we have time to pass on the collected knowledge of our species. This process is important as we are rational creatures who struggle to control our “instincts” rather than allowing them to totally control us.
But, Second Life is not something we can really relate to past human experience. It is a sudden change, and not a gradual smooth transition. We can’t go back and study how a global community of people created their other “user created” internet worlds, like we can study human history and the development of human civilization. There is no frame of reference.
Nothing even remotely like this has ever existed before in the entire history of the human race.
Second Life would be as incredible and as hard to accept to our grandfathers and grandmothers, as an airplane would be to a caveman.
I believe if we are ever going to really understand “The philosophy of Second Life Gor” as this course attempts to do, the first step is to accept that premise. As humans, we are used to understanding things based on our past experiences and the accumulated knowledge of those who came before us. But, we can’t do that here. This is all new stuff.
And the younger you are, the harder it is going to be to accept this fact. The younger generation raised with the internet and with cell phones, and with instant communication still seem to act and think as if George Washington’s army spent the winter at Valley Forge logged into SL to pass the cold winter hours.
We try to relate this new experience to things we are familiar with and games like World of Warcraft is an example. It seems a bit like this, so we act as if SL Gor was just a different version of WoW, but with slave girls. We overlook the intention of the creators, and even the reality of what SL actually is, and we make it something we are more comfortable with, like a game.
I assert that Second Life Gor is something unique. It is truly a Brave New World with wonders inside it that no other people have ever had the chance to tap into and it behooves us to, from time to time, take a bit of time out from the fun and adventure of it, to try to understand it.
To understand how we can make it work better. To understand the impact it has on our first life. The dangers it might pose. The things that make it more difficult to be “Goreans” , a civilization that existed with severe technological restrictions, being recreated on one of the most advanced technological platforms ever developed.
This seminar is designed to address some of these issues , and I hope to see you back as we dig into this Brave New World even deeper.