One Billion Hours Of Sex In Second Life?

In slightly over six years, the members of Second Life have lived out over one billion hours in a virtual world. To give you a sense of the popularity of SL, one billion hours equates to slightly over 115,000 years. With that much time on our hands, you can imagine what kind of trouble we can get ourselves into!

For those of us, like myself who live under a rock and not in virtual worlds, Second Life is a cyberspace environment developed by Linden Labs that launched on June 23, 2003. Accessible via the Internet, the program enables its users, called Residents, to interact with each other vis a vis their alter egos or avatars.

Residents can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, create and trade virtual property and services with one another, travel throughout the world, or yes... have sex!

The steamier side of Second Life is one of the attractions that keeps members coming back for healthy or unhealthy doses (as the case may be) of living vicariously through their alter egos! Tracey Smith from the CBS Early Show explores SexGen Escorting and Virtual Sex in this broadcast on the subject.

If you don't believe that sex sells in Second Life, just like it does in the real world, adult and sex-related transactions make up a significant portion of the $35 million in real money that Linden Labs says filters through its virtual economy each month.

The adults-only zone is separate from the mainland (so to speak). People who want access need to be age-verified through either a credit card or Linden Lab’s own verification service. Residents that own land earmarked for adult activities are required to rope off the area and set up age-verification control. God forbid,they should let the riff-raff in!

There’s real money at stake in virtual sales. In a Wired report, "Second Life reported $120 million in resident-to-resident purchases in the first quarter alone, and investment bank Piper Jaffrey predicts $621 million worth of in-world sales in 2009, in everything from virtual dildos to running shoes."

So it does appear that idle hands are the devil's playground! The next time you have one billion hours to waste away, if you are up for a little hanky-panky, you might want to visit the "red light" district in Second Life. That is, if you are not twittering your life away!
Oct 1, 2009
by Anonymous

Your article is retarded

as the title says, .. your article is retarded. You've pulled out random pieces of information and decided to tie them together with ludicrous random untruths.
Completely pointless article here

Oct 1, 2009
by Anonymous

Dear lord, what a terrible

Dear lord, what a terrible piece of journalism, from the headline on through. "adult and sex-related transactions make up a significant portion of the $35 million in real money that Linden Labs says filters through its virtual economy each month" Do you have a source for this? No? Didn't think so. In any case, there are thousands of people in SL who never engage in sex, create amazing virtual art, and would have been quite happy to talk to you about the less sensationalistic aspects of what goes on in Second Life. But, sex sells, right, and journalists are just whores for attention like everyone else.

Oct 1, 2009
by Anonymous

Im in SL

I'm in second life , using it about 30 hours a week. I've never once involved myself is any sex in SL or those kinds of activity. the sex life in second life is just one of millions of avenues to explore in SL. I've never bought SL sex, never paid for any sex products, and I have no interest to.

Oct 1, 2009
by Anonymous

Typical Incorrect Media View of Second Life

Lets set a few facts straight first. The only time we EVER hear about the amazing interactive virtual world in which anything you can think of is possible, is when any particular writer tells us about sex and money. Also, the writer is usually condescending about how it is a waste of time for someone as important and serious as himself.

Both things are here in this article. Maybe just once if they would actually go ahead and do a little research themselves, they would find the intellectual discussion groups, writing workshops and poetry readings, performance in every field you can think of, the world class architecture creation subculture, the huge and diverse art scene (including professional high end artists from all over the world) which includes those inventing the new fields of virtual interactive sculpture/environments and machinima.

Let's also note that Hundreds of universities have interactive educational spaces there for a reason. Including lately the entire University of Texas system.

Virtual Worlds are for adults interacting with others of their mindset in their fields of choice in a way that is not possible otherwise. Try finding others in your specialty while going about your mundane daily life. People in your head space are few and far between in your daily life, right? Come to the virtual world and find them.

What we have here is the beginning of what will become ubiquitous in a few years even for you, Mr. I live under a rock.

Instead of this teenaged crap that says "Jee whiz! There is boobies and stuff! and.... and... money and stuff...... golly!"

Bob Bauer

Oct 1, 2009
by Ron Callari

Second Lifers Unite

The mere fact that this many folks are offended by this synopsis tells me that Second Life has a strong following of users that find this type of behavior offensive. To you, I say, work within the system to clean things up. The fact that this type of activity exists is backed up by reliable sources such as CBS TV broadcasts and articles from trusted publications pertaining to digital media such as Wired. To deny that it exists or find it hard to understand why someone would write about it is like hiding your head in the sand. There's an old saying in life- "don't shoot the messenger." That goes for journalism as well. Otherwise you should also be inclined to throw stones at network TV and trade magazines as well. 

P.S. The title of the article is written in the form of a "question" and is purposely offered as a tongue-and-cheek way of poking fun at the darker side of our human nature.

Ron Callari is a freelance journalist and editorial cartoonist. His slighlty off-center published work includes trends, social media, politics, travel, humor and political articles.

Follow Ron on the InventorSpot and

Oct 1, 2009
by Anonymous

To Ron Callari: You haven't heard us.

I realize that you feel you need to get defensive here, but it is obvious that you haven't heard what we are saying.

I don't know where you get the idea that we are either denying or disapproving of the existence of sex and money in Second Life. That is not the case. And we certainly aren't the slightest bit interested in 'cleaning it up'. This is irrelevant.

You can be a participant in Second Life and NEVER have any interaction with the sex part at all. Or any other part you aren't interested in either. (Such as in-world Role Playing or shoot em up gaming areas).

Second Life has sex and money. And that is perfectly fine. Period. It is a complex and diverse place where ANYTHING that you can imagine can exist. We love the diversity and the freedom, and don't want to do anything to impede that freedom. ( And don't forget: people involved in the sex trade have their own completely separate areas, needing a consent portal passthrough, in which to operate already. )

BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE about what I am saying here: by no means, is sex and money the be all and end all of what is there, in fact it is NOT by any stretch why MOST people spend lots of time there. In fact, from what I have read, a majority of the money changing hands in Second Life is not sex related, but comes in the form of virtual clothes shopping or rental of virtual land.

The fact that that many other media sources concentrate on mostly the same things as you have done here does not validate the correctness of their articles. It only reinforces what WE are attempting to point out to you and others, that in general, the popular media's understanding of Second Life is usually limited to these titillating topics only. And that this implies a non understanding of virtual worlds in general.

What I'm saying is there is a much bigger story than that in Second Life and soon in other virtual worlds that will eventually be known. People coming into Second Life looking for sex and money will be mostly disappointed to find a world where you have to actually go find that stuff on your own, just like any other human situation.

Bob Bauer

Oct 1, 2009
by Anonymous

Sell your stories while you can...

Sex? Sure.
Money? Oh yes.
The end of Second Life? It's near.

Pick one of those themes and sell your story; there's always an editor willing to pay good money for those.

What's with the anti-sex stance anyway? Don't humans wish to reproduce any longer, or what? :) Why fear what's natural? Don't you guys spend a considerable amount of your time having sex with your beloved partners anyway?... or are we still in the dark ages, where you're supposed to self-flog yourself after merely *thinking* about sex? Come on, it's the 21st century! Worry more about the violence everywhere in the media, and forget about sex, which is just a wonderfully natural experience in our short human lives.

Anyway, as all the other commenters have already said, sex in Second Life is far less widespread than the media wishes us to believe in. But sex sells (like the ads on the article say), in this case, sex sells articles for e-zines, and so, the more sex is allegedly in SL, the more stories journalists can write about it, and the more they earn... sheesh.

- Gwyneth Llewelyn, who in 5 years of Second Life never had sex there.

Oct 1, 2009
by Ron Callari

Oh, I've heard you.. and no offense taken

I like the dialogue and the interaction. It's healthy and transparent. Obviously validation is a two-way street and I think we have both shown that this debate is not a new one and will continue for eons to come. Thanks for the lively discourse! I commend those who are for talking about sex and those that who are opposed. The last time I looked, this great land we live in was still considered a democracy.  And I would hope the same belief in free thought and free will exists in these virtuals worlds we have created as well. 

P.S. Gwyneth, no one holds anything against you for not having sex in Second Life for 5 years! : )

Oct 1, 2009
by Anonymous

I second what Bob, Gwyneth & anonymous said!

I also want to add, Mr. Callari, that it's obvious you've not spent much, if any, time in Second Life. As others have said, sex sells, and you've decided to jump on that bandwagon using only second-hand sources. Saying that Second Life is a waste of time is like saying "first life," or the city where you live, or the industry in which you work are all a waste of time -- because all of those places or contexts also have sex-related activities in them.

What you don't seem to understand is that Second Life is not "a" thing or place -- it's a digital platform real people use for creating, communicating, learning, relaxing, playing, working, and doing all the other things people do all over the world every day.

Also, as a former member of the mainstream media, I know first-hand how unreliable stories from even the most-respected media, such as CBS and Wired, can be. Just because something appeared in the media does not make it true.

As for "not shooting the messenger," really, Mr. Callari. If I hear my neighbor say the sky is falling and then pass that along as fact without checking it out for myself, I'm not "just the messenger" -- unless someone's holding a gun to my head and forcing me to say it. You chose to pass on fabrications and exaggerations -- you're not the messenger, but the rumor-monger.

Joan Kremer

Oct 2, 2009
by Anonymous

And your point is?

I did not miss your point that you are not a member of Second Life. That's a big part of my point -- how can you call something a waste when you don't know anything about it?

As you wrote:
"The next time you have one billion hours to waste away, if you are up for a little hanky-panky, you might want to visit the "red light" district in Second Life."

Global work meetings, medical research, university degree programs, fundraisers for charitable organizations, programs to enhance the lives of the disabled -- these and many other activities are part of those billion hours, yet your assertion is that all those hours all spent on purchased sex activities. That is spreading the rumor (generated by highly skewed reporting of "facts" by others) that SL is all about sex.

Joan K.

Oct 2, 2009
by Ron Callari

Highly skewed reporting is an opinion

One does not have to be a member of the Klu Klux Klan to know what that organization represents. Not that I am comparing SL to that nefarious network. But the "point" being, our legal system is based on cases determined by precedents and corroborating evidence. Court cases are not won by rumor but by listening and (yes) "repeating" corroborating testimony of others.. I am presenting one side of the debate as I have engaged with you here. You are doing the same. I am sure a good number of the members of SL are involved in a lot of beneficial initiatives. Thanks for sharing. My blog doesn't deter from that. If anything it provides people like you with a soapbox forum to talk about it. Highly skewed reporting is usually one's opinion when they don't want to listen to the other side..

Oct 3, 2009
by Ron Callari

Second Lifers - don't be offended - voice your opinion

Thanks Doreen for the link - it will help others examine the other side of this debate. I see many Second Lifers have been offended by my posting of this blog. However, as I noted in my previous comments, this is your opportunity to counter the argument.  Writing what I wrote has not reinforced any stereotype, if you all agree that none exists. Keep the debate going. I find it enlightening and healthy.

Oct 4, 2009
by Anonymous

MSM's Immature Sexual Attitudes

Articles such as this display just how immature Americans and the MSM are about sex. Clearly, this was written for titillating (no pun intended) purposes because the fact is that more actual sex occurs in your average motor lodge/motel/whatever you want to call it than on SL. Yet, we don't see articles decrying couples getting horizontal at a Comfort Inn. I mean, really, to be fair and balanced, just how much of Motel 6's income is derived from folks stopping in for a bit of naked fun?

Sex is a big part of real life, so that it constitutes a segment of the SL experience should surprise nobody. That the media continues to treat it in the kind of tittering (again, no pun intended), childish manner we have seen in the past would suggest that Americans in general and the mainstream media in particular need to grow up. This is the 21st century. Shouldn't we be better than this now?

Come on Ron, aren't you media guys tired of looking like lamers everytime you try to take on a pop culture related topic? Because if this was any lamer you would have qualified for disability.