Why Porn and Gambling Could Be Good For Emerging Virtual Worlds

In his most recent podcast episode of Across The Sound, Joseph Jaffe reacted with irritation to a commenter downplaying Second Life because of its infiltration by porn, prostitution and gambling. Joseph responded by underscoring that that where there’s sex and gambling, there’s life. And in life, you have the choice to ignore the scum.

That’s true. But to the chagrin of the pure and the prude, I also would point out that pornographers and casino proprietors could be beneficial to the development and sustainability of Second Life as a viable customer-relationship or marketing platform, at least in the short term.

Why? First of all, the lure of those very forbidden activities are likely getting many people involved and hooked on Second Life in the first place; those sins are a rallying force for a vibrant community with potential for critical mass, if not a number of well-established affinity groups. I’m not suggesting most or even half of users, but certainly a strong percentage fall into this category.

Secondly, the people behind those underground activities are innovating and creating new experiences, marketplaces and technical solutions. We all know that pornographers have influenced some of the most significant media and entertainment devices and business models of all time, including the VCR and movie industry, and probably High-Def DVD standards (and the porn industry seems to be leading the way beyond physically distributed media as well). Even some of the most successful, mainstream cable television programmers have taken a queue from the dark side. Should Second Life be any different?

Third, we already know the gambling underworld is innovating and growing so much as to force the FBI to consider new legal precedents in its mission to police such new gathering spots. In other words, gambling outfits are pushing the envelope and causing society and government to define multidimensional boundaries of commerce and law.

OK, I caveat all this analysis with the fact that my experience in Second Life is limited. I toured and demoed Second Life about a year ago, even sat through a Linden Lab presentation, but I’ve since had no regular presence. I’m also not into porn or gambling.

To all you heavy Second Life users out there: Am I right? Perhaps the Second Life team would care to weigh in?

RELATED: Listen to Across The Sound Episode #62, featuring me. One of Joseph’s best (…subtle sarcastic laugh)!

Published by Max Kalehoff

Father, sailor and marketing executive.

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