In an effort to keep TN’s front page family friendly, the whole of this post is over the fold.
A short time ago I thought it would be fun to have a look at the actual dollar value of the face value of Monopoly money. The difficulty with comparing things across worlds is that there is no common unit of utility that an in-game currency represents. The only thing that it seems sensible to compare against is the currency unit / hour rate that can be achieved under normal conditions of virtual world use.
Then it struck me that there might be at lest one comparator that could be common across worlds which might cast a slightly different light on in-world currency values, and that’s sex. More specifically paid for in-world sex, and potentially the ultimate unit of measure may be the ’15 min quickie blowjob’, giving us the QBJ index.
Why that? Well, certainly in Second Life it seems to be a standard offer, which has the advantage of being fairly well defined in terms of duration and activity. The issue with other practices is that they become blurry fairly quickly 30 min of straight sex may or may not include some fetish that it seen as a norm in a given environment, and I imagine fetishes are more highly subject to local market conditions.
From my limited sample set I worked out that the Average SL-QBJ rate is about L$360.
Which if I have my sums right is about $1.5. Given that this might include Skype and / or web cam (though those are higher rates), at about
1 [correction 28/10/06] 10 cent a min that’s some darn cheap virtual sex, especially considering that phone sex in the US can be way upward of $1 per min.
I’ve been digging around over the last day or so but I just can’t find any other sources of rates for cyber-sex in other virtual worlds. There must be, what do we call it, well, virtual prostitution services in all virtual worlds of sufficient size, I’d be staggered if there is not though it may not be quite as commercialized as in SL.
So - does the TN hivemind happen to know rates for WoW, Habbo, There etc etc? Is the WOW-QBJ rate higher or lower than the SWG-QBJ rate? Feel free to post anonymously.
Well - one thing that I’m wondering is what factors might impact price. Would these be general strength of virtual economy factors or more local ones based on the community? One might think that supply of such services were harder to come by in There or Habbo, than SL. OK pretty much anywhere is likely to have a lower, or at least less evident, supply side than SL.
An interesting difference between this element of the MMO economy and ‘gold farming’ is that it would appear to be difficult to buy in comparative cheap labour from less well off physical world economies. The reason being that cyber sex requires a facility in language. I’m sure for many, bad grammar may ruin a fantasy (unless the idea of the other as foreign is part of it). Thus unless cyber sex is being fully automated it requires a skill base that is fluent in the dominant language and more specifically the use of sexual terminology and cultural practices. Interestingly this seems another area where SL offers opportunities to the skill rich not just time rich.
As an end note (warning this get's more explicit):
Data-gathering for this piece was an interesting exercise. For a long time in SL sex and sexual subcultures have been evident through clubs who’s walls are lined with porn, to the pose ball trade, sky-boxes and heavily sexualised avatars.
But, on the surface the cyber-sex industry, or cyber-prostitution had (at least it seemed to me, to have been a little under the covers) relying a thin code of ‘dancers’ and ‘escorts’ and ‘adult clubs’. These days there are just ads on walls and at least on web site devoted to the sex-trade: SL Escorts. Not only is this a great resource for prices but Cybering ads (a truly fascinating art to rival the little cards we get in phone boxes here in the UK) which display a truly bewildering array of ‘standard’ offers. Here is a sample: Complete oral envelopment and exsemination, Submissive Slut/Slave/Fucktoy - Rough Sex/Forced Sex/Rape - Interracial; Sex/Gangbangs - Cheating Girlfriend/Wife; ageplay, roasting, death, gang rape, ponygirl.
There are also interesting exclusions for example: “Please, note that I am NOT Gorean”. Age play below 18 seems to be a big dividing line too, many, possibly most will not engage in it. My fave exclusion is “Will not remove her tail or ears for You”.
Disappointingly I find little that is SL specific e.g. zero gravity. I wonder if other virtual-worlds have a higher presence of world specific fantasies, c'mon Elves and Ewoks there must be some highly specific deviance in those cultures.