Go ask Alice’s avatar

Red Light Center, an avatarian sex site, expanded the bounds of virtual reality on Friday by introducing virtual dope. Members of the community can now, reports Simson Garfinkel of Technology Review, “enter a virtual rave and take virtual ecstasy, smoke a virtual joint, and even munch on some virtual mushrooms.”

Far out.

According to Brian Shuster, chief executive of Utherverse, the company that runs Red Light Center, the site is introducing the simulated abuseable substances as a kind of public service. Getting wasted virtually, he explains, will decrease people’s desire to get wasted in real life:

In a virtual environment, [peer] pressure shifts from trying actual drugs to experimenting with virtual drugs. Thus, users have a safe platform to explore the social aspects of drug use, without having to risk doing the actual drugs. By separating the social pressure from the real-world application, users have a totally revolutionary mechanism to deal with peer pressure, and actually to give in to peer pressure, without the negative consequences.

Moreover, users of virtual drugs have reported the effects of these virtual drugs to be surprisingly realistic and lifelike. To the extent that users can enjoy both the social benefits of virtual drugs as well as the entertainment associated with drug use, all with no actual drug consumption, the value of taking actual drugs is diminished.

Hmm. I bet if you were really, really high, that might actually make sense.

There’s a certain symmetry to the idea of virtual drugs. When the concept of virtual, or artificial, reality first emerged at the end of the sixties, it was tightly connected to the drug culture. The consciousness-expanding hallucinations that might be conjured up by computers weren’t so different from those that emanated from a tab of acid (or so it seemed at the time). Now that it’s possible to get stoned in cyberspace, we’ve kind of come full circle. I mean, think about it: When avatars hallucinate, they must see the real world.

Whoa. I’m freaking myself out.

7 thoughts on “Go ask Alice’s avatar

  1. Seth Finkelstein

    The Matrix!

    Or, “Do Avatars Dream Of Electric Sheep?”

    But the guy’s point does make sense, in a very logical way – if there’s phone-sex, why not phone-drugs? Looks like it’s more sizzle than steak (or buzz than *buzz*), but that’s true of Second Life in general.

  2. Condo

    Dear Mr. Finkelstein (if that’s your real name):

    Where’s the logic? I don’t know much about phone sex (I’m all thumbs) but I think both Willard “V.O.” Quine and Robert “Down At The Rock n’ Roll Club” Quine would agree with me that you can’t compare virtual and real-world drug use unless you’ve done both.

    But at least now Hillary can explain what Bill meant when he said he never inhaled.

  3. Seth Finkelstein

    It’s well-known that the “experience” people seek is sometimes not only the chemical effects, but the social effects of participating in a similar group – i.e. “raves”. So his point is that you can have a net version of socializing, with very mild perceptual alteration from light and sound (i.e. like laser shows), and this is a reasonable displacement for possibly more harmful physical drug-taking situations.

    Sure, sure, this can be dumped-on, net socializing is not a real-life socializing, yada yada – but phone-sex is not real sex either, but people do it anyway for various reasons.

  4. alan

    Mr. Finkelstein what is real sex?

    Does this now mean that I can do drugs, sex, rock and roll and still stay pure in the real world?

    What about inhaling in the virtual world will that stand in the way of any possible presidential hopes on my part?

    All the mumbo jumbo about “users of virtual drugs have reported the effects of these virtual drugs to be surprisingly realistic and lifelike.”

    I suspect that the virtual bar, brothel or Bar mitzvah might be good head job fodder but the effects . . . . . . . . . might cause a virtual hangover not to mention all the unmentionables. Get a life, a real one.


  5. Feelgood Tripp

    I’ve checked out the Dope on Red Light…is good stuff. I too create and sell virtual drugs of all types. Have for 2 1/2 years now. Personally I don’t think using virtual drugs influences people to use or not in real life. I think people are smarter than that. Although Virtual Drugs are very entertaining and fun to use. They do not compare to the real thing. They do well at mimicking them, but are far from comparing to the real thing. It’s true though they are by far safer. And yes tish my drugs do make you fiend and have withdraws. lol and yes there is rehab. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. Even the withdraw is enjoyable. After all that’s what it’s all about…something fun and exciting to do without harm or consequence.

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