Second Life® (SL) can be a wonderful place. Some you will find in here have 7 or 8 year old avatars while some quit “playing” after a couple of months. So is there a secret behind a happy SL? I have found over the years that for many, the secret is “purpose” – may that be role play, building, designing, running a business or having a job.
A very popular calling for many is to join a Motorcycle Club (MC). They appear very much like their Real Life (RL) equivalents: Hang out with like minded people and of course the love of riding a motorcycle.
The reasons to join a MC vary. The members typically share the love for their bikes often exact rebuilds of Harleys and Nortons or perhaps their own creations entirely. They look for riding in a group rather than being a lone wolf riding the apparently endless streets of SL. Many MC’s create huge multilayered platforms with miles of roadways. Most MCs allow “guests” on their tracks but might apply rules that are usually enforced. Some MC members are patched as road captains. They take their members to foreign tracks for rides or host rides of guests on the tracks of their MC.
Regardless of the standard structure (President, Vice President, Secretary, etc. just like any organized club), many MCs are like families. Additionally to hanging out at the clubhouse or organizing rides, they simply spend time together. They mentor new members towards becoming full patched members, help them to make good choices with their bikes, or getting that cool biker or biker chick “look” down just right.
One of those MCs is Cobra, a pretty fun loving and active MC with a long history in SL. SummerRain Voom Darkfold and Gambit Jenkins invited me to visit one of the many Cobra riding sims to chat with them. They did point out that Cobra was a neutral MC and they do not have any alliances. I was glad to learn that in this MC, women apparently did not have a subordinated role at all. Their current president Harley Sella is, after all, a woman. Gambit, who Summer said was something like the Cobra historian, explained that many MCs actually derived from Bloodlines vampire clans. Then he adds laughing, “Maybe this is where some took all the drama from.” Gambit also pointed out that some MCs actually had somewhat questionable mentoring programs for their prospects. It seemed like was a bit bit upset under his skin about that but he did not show it. I could feel the passion of this virtual biker world. I also saw that he had a pick on condemning bullying in this profile. He was then quick to emphasize that there are many great MCs out there.
However, behind the fun, love, freedom and wild romance it is also true that many MCs are highly testosterone driven environments with bullying hierarchies in some cases going as far as calling in sexual favors of their prospects. Considering that most are on voice, this is quite intrusive and disturbing to say the least.
Conny Bonetto, whom I met out there on one of the Biker sims, is a member of several different SL MCs. She points out the she is mainly there to be her man’s lady. Conny is a Vice President of a RL MC since 1999. Furthermore, her experience in SL Bloodlines and having been around in SL and its MCs make her uniquely qualified. She explains that many SL MC members are role players and often don’t even hold a driver’s license in RL. She points out that some SL MC use the names and logos on their backs of RL MCs without getting their approval. Needless to say that this is not very respectful for the patch they wear on their backs and the MC it represents.
Some MCs do engage in wars – pounding their probably significantly smaller RL chests reminding at least me a little bit of adolescent gorillas. Some of their sims are full of alt avatars, which basically just standing around – no one playing them. The purpose is simply to make the sim look populated. It is not a surprise that big words like respect and honor can be heard quite often in those MCs.
Conny emphasized how political SL MC have become. When she started out, they shot at each other as part of the role play and “death” resulted in being sent home and you got a little time out. Today, she said, they try to bring down sims with crashers. They try to bring SL to RL to hurt other role players in RL with pictures, intruding into their privacy by getting their IP address to figure out where they live,. etc.
There are also female MCs out there, assuming that with the lack of testosterone, the environment would be a little more civilized. Conny grinned and replied, “Most so called female MC´s in SL are more hen houses than anything else.” So it appears that as long as the temptation for quick reward is pursued with intrigues instead of working one’s way up the ranks, it is hard to if not impossible for a woman to hold and maintain a responsible position in a SL MC. On second thought however, isn’t that true for RL too?
Conclusively, it can be said that SL provides a home for interests. A MC can be your answer for fun and even belonging. Some MCs are true families, sharing common interests. While it is certainly justified when joining a new group to have a learning period with limited rights and responsibilities, it can not include the abuse some MCs or groups appear to practice. They might claim their are their brothers keeper – but be aware that firstly, you are your own. It is not only about you deserving the patch of a MC. Ask yourself as well if they deserve you!