I intentionally didn't include this news story in the IT News Digest newsletter because it wasn't "hard-core" IT like the majority of my news selections... however, I doubt many people could deny the severity of this topic (or at least would admit that they denied it). Check out the News.com story: Phony kids, virtual sex.
Here's my brief article recap... "Second Life" is a virtual gaming world for adults. However, "Some of the virtual world's biggest fans are shaking their heads over what users call 'age play.' This age-based role-playing can take on various forms: It can be as innocuous as people acting out a family dynamic, or as potentially troubling as two adults engaging in sexual role playing, with one of the avatars made to look like a child."
In case you didn't quite follow that last little factoid, let me spell it out. P-E-D-O-P-H-I-L-E
According to the story, "legal experts said such virtual behavior between adults isn't likely to break the law, since there are no real children involved....Illegal or not, virtual role-playing that could easily offend many players puts 'Second Life' creators at Linden Lab in a tricky spot: Do they try to legislate morality when it's likely that no laws are actually being broken? Or do they let people do as they wish behind closed virtual doors?"
You know, even if I didn't have a kid, I wouldn't think that type of role playing was fun, funny, or a turn-on. I understand that there is a world full of fetishes out there - from grown men who love to wear diapers to women who respond lovingly to the words "Who's your daddy?" I'm not condemning or condoning anyone's "kink" - as long as there are only consensual adults in the equation. But come on, Second Lifers, find an appropriate forum for that kind of behavior, and let the rest of the gamers play in a more comfortable venue.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.