Saturday, January 8, 2011

Who Goes to the Zoo?

Before home computers were capable of modeling in much detail, I built much the same as I do now in SecondLife using HO scale model trains.

One of the things I always wanted for my HO layout was a zoo. Over the years I collected bits and pieces to accomplish this, but was never able to get more than enough for a few exhibits and since I wasn't capable of sculpting animals on that small of a scale (without going blind) my HO scale zoo was never to be.

In SecondLife though, I had more than what I needed to make my model zoo a reality, so I made it.

I never really gave much thought to who would visit the zoo though. After six months of operating the Parktown Zoo, here are my observations of the visitors.

A lot of people, it seems, come to SecondLife with a set motif for how they want to spend their time, and apparently vary only a little from it.

I never got many visitors to the zoo who were interested in Medieval or Gorean motifs. Zoos weren't part of the books they read, so they weren't part of their SecondLife experience as well.

By far the largest number of visitors to the zoo were people who wanted to have some sort of family experience in SecondLife. People take real children to zoos, so I suppose people assumed it was the thing to do with avatar children as well.

I've also noticed an unusually high number of my visitors were people wishing to express some sort of African-American Urban experience, whether their operators were actually of African descent or not. In the real world, most Zoos are older now, and surrounded by older urban areas. While they may not be a feature of the suburban life, Zoos must be a fixture in many urban landscapes.

One thing I never expected was that people interested in a bondage life-style on SecondLife sometimes expressed a fascination with the idea of living in the cages I built for the animals, several asking for copies of them and some even wanting to live in my zoo as some form of restraint or humiliation.

Some even agreed to wear animal avatars while they were in the cages and behave only as animals. I experimented with the idea for a while thinking it might be a way to get more realistic animals, but what I soon discovered was many people were coming to the zoo to see the freaks getting off on pretending to be animals so I discontinued the practice.

We get a great many dates to the zoo, both straight and gay couples. They're usually pleasant and seem to have a good time.

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