Click to see more posts by Darius SartreHow exactly does “virtual rape” even occur in Second Life?

Just today, I read about Brussels police looking into a complaint of “virtual rape” within the game, Second Life.   Wired even had a nice descriptive analysis on how virtual rape is traumatizing (and no doubt it is) when it is non-consensual.   But something just didn’t jive with all of this.  Here’s my thoughts.

First off, the younger players are filtered off on the Teen Grid while everyone else is on the main Grid.   If a teen happens to lie and get a hold of adult qualifications or has an adult create the account, then they bypass the security measures in keeping them safe from any sexual activities that could happen on the main Grid.

Second, there is no possible way to force another avatar to do your bidding without that other player allowing control.  At least not to my limited knowledge.   I suppose you could be barraged by words over chat or IM, but there is this fancy schmancy thing called mute that can basically silence anyone from saying anything to you.  Believe me, I’ve done it many times when someone goes crazy in chat.   I’m sure many people have hit the mute key on me too since I joke around all the time.

You could potentially have stalkers (both in-game and real life), but as with any social environment, if you give too much information away, that’s just a potential risk.

So given the above, I’m not even sure how this would work.   Don’t get me wrong, virtual games come with some very real problems that could arise just as if you wandered around chat rooms except with these, it’s with avatars.  And I’m not belittling virtual rape, since that’s very wrong and no one should ever go through such things online.   I’m just trying to figure out the logistics behind how it can even possibly be done in Second Life due to the limitations of the game.  Anyone care to enlighten me?  It almost doesn’t seem to be possible, at least in Second Life.

May 4th, 2007 • Darius Sartre • Avatars, Second Life, Virtual Life 21 Comments »

21 Responses

  1. 1 Merlyn Bailly:

    You REALLY have not been paying attention — and you’re obviously not an SL ‘resident’, you’ve just swallowed LL’s “kompany koolaid”: not all teens are on the TG – there are many “trojan teens” on the MG. When LL eradicated the need for a cc/debit card, they removed the need for a teen to ask a parent to use the adult’s card to register. Any avatar you meet could be anywhere from 10 to 90 years old.

    If someone reports an avatar’s account as POSSIBLY being used by a teenager, LL might or might not investigate – it usually takes the teen being stupid enough to flat-out admit their age to get them booted off the MG to the TG.

    If someone sticks around to listen to someone VERBALLY “raping” them, it’s consensual, since all you have to do is TP out of wherever you are. Even if a Gorean “master” cages a female newbie visitor to a Gorean sim, just TP’ing out of the sim gets you out of the cage. There is no way to FORCE anyone to DO anything in SL or to SUBMIT to any act, ergo there is no damn thing as “virtual” rape. Whoever started this brouhaha in the Neths is just out to create a name for themselves and hopefully garner a legal settlement. It’s about GREED, folks, not rape.

  2. 2 Darius Sartre:

    Outside of the whole teen/adult thing (in which when I started SL back in 2005, I needed a credit card), so I don’t know when they eradicated this. That’s good to know. Kind of stupid from my pov.

    I’m not really sure what this koolaid stuff is coming from since if you read what I wrote, it was pointing out the fact that it supposedly could happen for those teens that said they weren’t teens.

    In actuality, it was pointed out to me in IM that it perhaps would be possible with a griefer script. Again, something that I haven’t had the chance of involving myself with. Unfortunately, from a code perspective, griefer scripts are a security hole, and not something that is technically available from within the game. So game limitation still stand.

    I don’t even know if objects that can hold you down or lock you in. For instance, do the Gorean cages actually lock? That’s something that I don’t know about. Everything that I can tell from game perspective is consensual.

    As far as your last comment, I totally agree. It is about greed. I’m just curious if anyone else that has had more experience with stuff (such as Gorean) actually found objects that could lock, or prevent another avatar from doing things. I don’t think they exist, but then again, I haven’t traveled all around just to try new things. Just not my thang. ;)

  3. 3 JohnnyRS:

    Yes there are things that can lock an avatar up and keep them in place or send them off to the sky. But you can always teleport out of it. Don’t know of any object that stops you from teleporting. Also some of the adult places only allow visitors with payment information on record but a paypal account is enough to have that payment information tag on.

  4. 4 Diana Allandale:

    I’ll agree that this is about greed, since I can support that there is nothing you can’t teleport away from (at least, none I’ve found so far). As to the virtual ‘rape’…my first week in-world, a male avatar invited me to a beach. Turned out to be a nude beach. I’m not a prude, and to be honest, still tend to equate dressing (and undressing) my avatar as playing with my Barbie doll when I was little. So sure, I took off my clothes, we went skinny-dipping and afterward, he suggested two poseballs. Being the newbie I was, I didn’t understand that the word “love” hovering over the top meant “intercourse”. :) When a cock suddenly appeared on him and he started going at it with my avatar, I will admit, my first thought was…”Hey! I didn’t consent to this!” But reason took hold, I told him I wasn’t interested and that was the end of it. A few short minutes later, I was dressed and had left him on the beach, feeling ticked off that someone would take advantage of my newbie-ness, but having learned a little about human nature.

    So, does that mean I was raped? I suppose in the very strictest definition of rape, yes. It was non-consensual. But I’m a big girl and also understand it was between the equivalent of dolls. He did not harm me, there was no damage done, no avatar virginity to take.

    I am in no way belittling rape or the damaging effects it can have on the victim. But I have to wonder if, in virtual worlds at least…perhaps Barnum’s adage applies? “There’s a sucker born every minute” and in my case at least, I was the sucker and my partner only too willing to take advantage of that.

    Will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the Netherlands.


  5. 5 Darius Sartre:

    One of the other things I was trying to figure out was if SL had things that could prevent people from doing anything. (Again, everything can be TP’d from). The reason being is because, I used to be an imm on multiple muds that had objects that you could technically abuse for other means. These restricted movement, or didn’t allow you to get away.

    In the strictest of sense, you could get raped. We had some issues with that and had to ban some people for even trying it. The point was that unless there’s something you couldn’t get away from, and some higher “being” has to step in, then we really don’t have any issues.

    My other problem with all of this? So far, everyone has basically confirmed my suspicions. So why is the media perpetuating this whole rape thing? Including Wired. Really, this is just creating more of an issue about something when the people you report to don’t play the game and probably have little to no knowledge of it. So you create FUD about something that no one does any homework or analysis on. Ick.

    Thanks guys/gals for all the confirmation on what can and can’t be done.

  6. 6 The difference between stalking, rape, and sexual harassment in ANY online social environment » VTOR - Virtual TO Reality:

    [...] whole Belgian thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Seriously. One, it has the word rape in it. That’s not a term [...]

  7. 7 SEE life differently » Terror Alert!:

    [...] in the entire game network and cost them tens of thousands of dollars to create. We’ve had rape and paedophilia, now virtual [...]

  8. 8 Mon:

    This conversation is over a month old so i’m sure i’m pretty much talking to myself but to take in a different direction for a moment during my second SL sexual experience a female(probably some 50 yr old dude from midwest US) avatar told me to rape her.Not being a rapist in RL or SL i was shocked for a moment,but if someone tells you to rape them it’s not rape i reasoned to myself so we went about this”rape”.It was actually kind of funny because she didn’t seem to know how to use the pink ball things(was this part of the rape?her/HIM acting innocent?)and i didn’t know if there was some sorta rape animation i didn’t get with my SL starter kit so i basically chased her around the room with my penis on,just bottoms the both of us, and we bumped into each other.A lot!HA!So if you find yourself in a certain library in SL we pretty much did it everywhere including the top shelves.And i feel rape is bad whether its RL or SL.It’s an invasion of privacy at the very least.Now that i think about it i’m pretty sure i was SL raped on my first day,some naked guy kept “accidently” bumping into me on Help Island!Please forgive my bad writing skills.I’m so English 098.

  9. 9 Mon:

    Sorry i meant bottoms off.Now if those damn bastards would only allow me to build something without throwing me into space.

  10. 10 Katrina Eales:

    You guys have discussed the act and whether it’s possible. You haven’t discussed intent, the possibility of offenders doing it in RL and the possible trauma to victims.

    What if it was attempted on a woman who had been previously raped in RL? Just because there is no physical involvement the knowledge that someone has attempted to violate you via your avatar could cause a degree of trauma.

    No doubt law enforcement agencies will want to investigate or record such attacks because it may assist with RL investigations.

    And what if your wife’s avatar was attacked… if you could get your hands on the guy on the other side of the screen what would you do?

  11. 11 Darius Sartre:

    If my wife was attacked and didn’t teleport… I’d say… it’s a judgment call. There is always this great thing called the “power button”. I know it’s magical and all, but you don’t have one in reality versus virtual.

    Regardless of intent, from this perspective, it sounds more like consensual in SL than a victimization which is what people are terming it as. If you don’t like it, don’t participate.

    I still don’t see any actual source that holds you down without you consenting to it and doesn’t allow a way out (in which rape from what I understand is taking away all control that “you have”). In this fashion, it still doesn’t make much sense.

  12. 12 e20211amwhitney » Blog Archive » What exactly IS virtual rape?:

    [...] other player’s avatars. But what is really happening when an avatar is raped? The blog site VTOR Virtual Reality asks the question “How Exactly Does ‘Virtual Rape’ Occur in Second Life?” [...]

  13. 13 Turner Singh:

    For historical on this you might want to refer to the nefarious “The Palace” rape incident. It was done by a character that did it on purpose, and then was held trial. He ended up stating that he
    did it for fun. However the victim was indeed traumatized.

    This was a strategic inflection point for The Palace and it was downhill from there. I worked on The Palace a little bit, it was sad to see that environment go.

    I think there are several forms of rape. For example, someone who logs in, then claims you’ve harassed them, and proceeds to set up her own Kangaroo court and get you removed from a sim – is a sort of “Full Disclosure” rape that will not likely be reported much here, I assume but does happen.

    I know this for a fact, however, that it does happen. I had a person who was posing as a reporter, and who decided that it was not religiously appropriate for me to RP in a particular sim. She logged in and told me that I should fear her, and I said.. why? And she said ” Because I can destroy you” and I said. Ok. Go ahead. And then she collected up my friends, told them lies about me and then laughed when they booted me from the sim.

    My revenues went up 200 percent after that.. so I am not complaining..
    but still. Rape means forced encounter.

  14. 14 Moe Green:

    That’s easy. Rape involves forced sexual contact. In order for this to occur, one human being must force sexual contact on another human being.

    If it ain’t against laws established by your country’s government, not only is it legal, but it certainly ain’t rape.

    Just because you have traumatized somebody by betraying them, or pissing them off, or making their game character cry, or whatever . . . does not constitute rape. Rape is not a bad feeling in response to something that happened in your day, else I could have my boss arrested 5,000 times over. For you idiots to call this rape, of any sort, just shows how delusional and silly you all are.

    You second lifers are just fucking dorks. That’s all it amounts to. No tangible, real crime committed IRL, so no punishment IRL. Now if they damage something you pay for, that might be a crime, but it’s not rape.

  15. 15 Galen Winthorpe:

    Wow, I haven’t seen the word “dork” used since elementary school. You should have used Douche Moe. Which is what I would describe a person putting down something they have no idea about. Mainly Second Life. Douchy McDoucherton is actually better.

    And, no. It’s not rape.

  16. 16 ladyaeval:

    lol hey i call people dorks all the time.

    i know this is a year late, but i would like to know why people don’t know how to use an off button or the quit command?

    and learn something about networking too. secondlife is blocked for all computers on my network but mine. my kids touch that game and they won’t be touching a computer in my house for a very long time. i play it, enjoy the clothes, shoes, dancing, and friends. and if someone even tried touching me without my consent my SL boyfriend would come over and virtually kick their (expletive deleted) I’m just kidding, but still. I’d tp out of there or turn around with my ak47 and blow their character away if the land allowed damage.


  17. 17 RDarling:

    To even use the term “rape” in this context is alternately hysterically funny and disturbing. First of all, let’s take into account that everyone on the main grid THINKS they’re dealing with adults, and have the right to expect whoever they’re interacting with to be an adult. Second, let’s note that while there are sex sims all over SL, they’re clearly marked “Mature,” warning all visitors that adult activities are permitted in the area. Third, let’s point out that at any time, a user can TP away, Mute an individual, log out, or turn off their computer. Ergo, ANY interaction you have with someone in SL can be immediately ended by you at any time you choose, even more easily than you can tune out an asshole in a car on a public street in RL, yelling out his window that he wants you to suck his (ahem). So if you stay and rp (that’s “roleplay” for all you uninitiated), or even just stay and chat, your actions are consensual. It takes two to tango, though in our litigious society, I suppose there are some who would like to argue that point.

    What I find most deeply disturbing about all of this, however, is the application of the term “rape” to what is, as evidenced above, ultimately a voluntary interaction which INVOLVES NO PHYSICAL CONTACT WHATSOEVER. There are no injuries, other than perhaps shocking or embarrassing someone who might potentially (amazingly) never have heard some of those words or actions at some point in their elementary-school career.

    What this really does is to trivialize the actual act of rape, a violent and deeply disturbing real life crime that is impossible to perpetrate in a virtual environment. While I’m sure some people may be upset by being propositioned with such a roleplay, or spoken to in such a way, it’s no more of a crime than someone in RL, or in a chat room, or in IM, or on a blog, telling you what they’d like to do to you. Nasty and uncomfortable maybe, but just stand an SL “rape victim” next to an actual RL rape victim and ask them how the two compare, precisely. Personally, if I were the RL victim, assuming I could hold my temper in check, I’d probably suggest some serious counseling sessions, because Miss VRDramaQueen clearly has an inability to separate fantasy from reality.

    C’mon, people…turn off the freaking computer and get a First Life. If you really want to sue someone, go to the grocery store and slip on a spot of water instead.

  18. 18 John:

    you-are SUCH a complete moron. I’m blown away by your narrow minded stupidity. Yes, that’s right. Virtual Rape warrants an investigation; nothing more offensive and dangerous than and exchange of words while two animations start going at it. It’s because of dumb brauds like yourself that your everyday law abiding male has to be paranoid of drinking too much and sleeping with an equally “smashed” female.

  19. 19 JK:

    If the definition of rape was clear cut then cyber rape and virtual rape would be impossible since someone can always pull the plug out of their computer .

    there are no objects that restrict a person from leaving on SL at least not without them consenting to it.
    And even if someone could create a script that somehow disabled teleportting allowed someone to remove another avis clothing without consent and generally take total control of a persons avi without their consent, pulling the plug on the PC would still counter that.

    The thing is though the definition of rape is not clear cut in some places only the forced entry of the penis into the virgina would qualify as rape ergo only men can rape.
    in other places any forced penetration can lead to rape charges

    In some states even cyber sex ie purely textual let alone virtual sex with a minor (even if the minor is only a few months underage and consenting) can lead to rape charges so even when there is no sexual contact between flesh and blood bodies and even if the “victim” is willing it will still lead to rape charges.

    some like to claim rape is more about power than it is about sex (fairly silly claim in my pov since its obviously a combo)
    But under that remit it maybe possible to charge a person with rape if they forced someone into commiting (virtual) sex acts by using threats .

    Example scaring someone into commiting virtual sex acts by telling them that your a brilliant hacker and can find their offline addy or by threatening to spread rep destroying lies about them around second life or the net as a whole could have the possibilty of being defined as rape.
    the legal definitions of rape are cloudy now due to changing times and the new tech

  20. 20 Serenity:

    Hi. Many people are right, it isn’t rape really unless it’s IRL. :) I know this is sorta late teehee

  21. 21 Paul:

    camaraderie@stammered.heron” rel=”nofollow”>.…

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