Rock Bottom - a study
You ever been to a casino? Like, a proper one. I haven’t, the closest I’ve come is those little penny-pusher amusements on the seafront, but you hear things about people who practically live there on the slot machines, in a trance while they push the button over and over again. I’m pretty sure I read somewhere it described as ‘rock bottom’. They’re wrong.
Let me introduce you to gambling on Second Life.
Second Life is in of itself pretty low down on the ladder. I really feel like it shouldn’t have turned out that way, but there’s something ridiculously unnerving about the expressionless models, that sometimes twitch or do an idle expression but are otherwise dead faced.
I recently… came across some money (Linden Dollars, they’re called) in second life. Not a lot, barely enough to buy a realistic anime vagina - seriously, they exist. The best selling one costs 825 of these linden dollars, which at the current exchange rate is a little over 3 real life US dollars. According to the graphic on the page, it boasts “3 realistic states”, “sounds” and an “auto cum” feature. Please don’t look it up, I don’t want that on my conscience.
So I decided to take my legitimately obtained money and hop on over to one of the casinos. Unsurprisingly in a place filled with adults and people with too much money, casinos were and are pretty big in second life. There’s restrictions, though. Because of state online gambling laws, you won’t find blackjack or roulette or even slot machines in a second life casino. Instead you’ll find ‘skill games’.
These skill games are fairly straightforward. The one above is called No Devil. Simply, you roll the numbers at the bottom, then if any of them match you can click on them and you get some points. You also get points for completing lines, or the board, and there’s 2 squares that will increase your score multiplier, and one that decreases it. Beat the target score, get your buyin plus the payout of whatever machine you’re playing. It’s really not worth explaining. Go google the name, you’ll probably find the full rules. The point is it’s not a game revolving around luck.
Of course, because this is a casino, it totally fucking is, and my anime vagina fund is now empty.
Like in real casinos, you get the patrons sitting round staring blankly, but the difference is that unlike in real life you dont need to be standing in front of the machines to play! Instead you can just run your character off somewhere and get into your favourite sitting position, lock the camera at the machine and play from afar.
Next to me is a furry, a big white fox looking thing, lying on the floor with their legs stretched out, motionless and unblinking. In the sky sits a man shirtless with a gun, and a flashing title of MASTER hangs over his head
There’s a couple sitting together on top of the rows of machines. Or, more likely, one person controlling two accounts. Or bots. My character takes a sip from their drink. (Oh yeah, the character I’ve made for myself in this god forsaken cyberspace has a damning addiction to soda. Please don’t ask).
Suddenly, an alarm goes off, and the chat announces that someone has just received a meager amount of linden Funny Money ‘Just for playing in this land!’. Nobody flinches, nobody even moves. The web radio they’re pumping into the building plays Uptown Funk for the 5th fucking time today, and the unknown accent seductively announces “double multiplier” on the machine next to me.
With my money drained, I go for a bit of a wander around the place. Half of the building is still empty, and there’s umpteen varieties on this one game. There’s so many goddamn varieties. There’s multipliers, with higher target scores. Win 10x your buy-in if you somehow roll a perfect game. Score within 200 points of the target score and win 25x your buy-in. It’s all too much. I fly my character outside to see what surrounds the building.
Even more games. The guy hovering in the air, the endless expanse beyond the lines of evenly spaced tombstone looking machines gave this whole scene an absolutely surreal vibe.
There’s just really no way to explain second life in its current state at all. I think it’s one of those things where you need to grab a couple of buddies, hop into skype (or don’t, it has built in voice chat) and just… explore. You’ll find completely vacant hell-themed BDSM clubs, incredibly populated nudist beaches where you’re thankful that the models aren’t loaded and more furry themed shops than you can shake a dog bone at. (CHARACTER BREAK: If you’re under 18 please don’t. In fact, just don’t, at all, even if you aren’t. Sometimes it’s best to let sleeping dogs (fursuited or otherwise) lie)
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of a similar cyber-world called Worlds Chat, but that’s even older than second life, and even deader. People walk through it like its an abandoned city to explore, but there’s still old veterans chatting to each other (in private) on it. It’s like.. cyber-tourism. You’re intruding on someone’s ‘culture’, essentially, snapping pics and pointing and laughing at how weird they are for dressing themselves up like a technicolor pony.
My character takes another sip from the neverending can. Katy Perry’s Roar comes on the radio. I mute the game, then close it down and spend the next few minutes wondering why I just spent two hours playing virtual bingo with virtual money in a virtual cyber-reality casino.
Rock bottom, folks.