Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Watch this: A virtual tour of Second Life's top brothel

Illustration for article titled Watch this: A virtual tour of Second Life's top brothel
Screenshot: People Make Games (YouTube)

Second Life, the online game where people get together to role-play alternate digital lives, has long maintained a fully-functioning economy that players use to generate both virtual and real-world money. Naturally, because of this, its audience has replicated just about every aspect of our actual markets, including shops that sell clothes, decorations, housing, and people who provide services like farming for worms or offering virtual sex work to other players.


A recent documentary from People Make Games focuses, presumably because the topic’s a lot more interesting than worm-based agriculture, on this last business through an in-depth look at The Monarchy, Second Life’s “most expensive brothel.”

The video starts by running down how the whole business works. Those who run the digital brothels buy and design in-game real-estate then hire sex workers who interact with clients entirely through their avatars or by sending photos, videos, and turning on their webcams and microphones. Aside from the fact that it takes place within a video game from 2003, it’s all pretty much meant to replicate the real world, including the fact that employees of places like The Monarchy can earn actual money.

What’s most interesting about the video isn’t its explanation of how these businesses work, but host Quintin Smith interviewing The Monarchy’s creator. His Second Life avatar walks through the neon-lit brothel while the two discuss her work. As they talk, blankly-staring characters with evolutionary impossible bodies sway around in canned animations.

By the end of the video, we’ve learned how The Monarchy became so successful, watched Smith’s fully-clothed avatar performing various robotic sex moves in front of an empty couch, and finally gleaned the answer to the ultimate question: “How exactly does semen work in [Second Life?]”

It’s a fascinating look at a subculture within an internet subculture that’s worth checking out. Watch the full video by clicking on over here.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.