Friday, 20 June 2014

Cue Matriarchy

Queen Kitti
I went back to the Arcade this morning, just for a post-mayhem poke around. For those of you who read my blog but don't use SL (hi mum!), the Arcade is a quarterly event that generates the same kind of hype as...I don't know...the Football World Cup, or the midnight release of a Harry Potter book. It is an old-school Arcade made of glass, perched on the end of a pier, and inside is an array of gacha machines offering everything from skins and hair to furniture, music boxes, and pet fish. I half expected it to look like a Primark store an hour after opening, but it seems to have finally quietened down and, in the way of SL, it was clean and quiet. It wasn't even dusty.

Although the Arcade brings out an online catalog that lets you have a look at what you can win before you even get there, part of the joy of SL, I think, is exploring places - especially those with as nicely made buildings as the Arcade. There's something nice about hopping over to the Arcade and just having a wander, even though you've probably got more than you could possibly ever want from those machines. I suppose it's like window shopping.

As I was wandering around, I started thinking about how good events like the Arcade can be. I know I've whinged about gachas before, but to a new SL user, gacha machines are a potentially great way to get good items from good designers super cheap. Rarely do gacha machines charge more than one hundred Linden dollars (SL currency) a turn, and to put that into perspective, the skin Kitti usually wears cost just under one thousand Linden dollars. The same company that makes that skin filled a machine with similar skins at the Arcade this time around and, sure enough, the price on them was one hundred Linden dollars. It's smart shopping. 

Queen Norah isn't new to SL, but she's a smart cookie.
Except if you take a look at the Arcade's catalog, you'll see most of the skin, hair and clothing items there are designed for women. Not all of them - and many of the shops who make things for the Arcade make things for male avatars in their shops - but a large percentage. If a friend told me they wanted to get into SL and they had a female avatar, I'd have no issue taking them to the Arcade to flesh themselves out, but if it had a male avatar, I would have no idea where to begin.

This would be the point in the post where I reveal an armful of statistics, but I don't have any. I wouldn't like to lie to you and pretend that I do. 

I would be surprised to learn that Second Life has a higher population of male avatars then female avatars, but I would be unsurprised to find more male users than female. And the wider truth is that we still, as a collective society,  see shopping as something women do whilst their husbands are out earning money for them to fritter away. Despite the coming of the metrosexual, we still place emphasis on the care a woman should take with her appearance and her home, and tell men that they shouldn't care how they look just as long as they have mowed the lawn. We're getting better at it, for sure, but we've still a way to go. 

We could talk here, too, about who makes the ads, and who makes the clothes and the skins and the everything else. We could question who buys them, and for whom, with what intention. We're not going to right now. 

Right now, we're going to deviate - oh, come on, you knew it was coming - : as I was thinking about this, an image sprang into my mind of a virtual world of women and, naturally, my brain connected the idea to the Anne Rice novel, The Queen of the Damned. In the novel, the mother and queen of all vampires Akasha rises from a two thousand year slumber to rid the world of evil as she sees it - of men. During her slumber, she had been placed before numerous radios and television sets, and she had come to see that the source of all strife and war was men, and so off she goes on a killing spree, leaving behind one man for every twenty or so women, if I remember, that they might repopulate. Of course, any sons born would be brought up to respect the new matriarchy and adopt the traits Akasha praises so highly in women. 

If Norah and I ever gain any real positions of power, you should run. We're coming for you.
The Arcade, along with several other similar gacha machine events open at the moment, are helping to dress a virtual nation of fearsome queens. We've got flowing hair and flowing gowns coming out of our ears, and I now have so many crowns and diadems in my inventory that I am considering creating an alt just to hold them for me. The dresses Norah and I are wearing in the pictures here are from gacha events, and so are our crowns and our jewellery and our skins. Our hair isn't, though, because we cheated - but we have several hairstyles from gachas we could have chosen to wear instead. We're dressed to go and do some serious violence in the name of peace. We're ready to fuck for our virginity.

We won't make the same mistakes that Akasha did, though. Virtual worlds, beware.

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