This is the first of a two-part feature on Sociolotron. Click here for part two.Editor's note: This article contains material and descriptions not suitable for all ages including descriptions of sexual game content. Reader discretion is advised."Baby Girl was made to be raped."
Baby Girl was made to be raped. Wearing a pink thong, barely hidden by a scant chain mail miniskirt, a gold and pink bustier, and golden cuffs, she was only 50% covered, and her genitals were more than 60% exposed. She strode down the streets of London in thigh-high riding boots, and she'd sell herself to anyone for five dollars.
But Baby Girl wasn't really interested in selling herself. She did that a few times, just to try it out. It was as she expected. As we expected. No, she was after something much more compelling, disgusting, and exciting. She wore flouncey outfits and trod unsafe paths in the dark, working hard to entice the thugs and gang members from their shadows. Baby Girl wants to be raped. More precisely, Baby Girl was made to be raped.
I've never been able to ascribe real world desires to my manufactured characters, even when the gameplay dictates that those desires motivate the character's behavior. But here there was no role-play involved. I did not want Baby Girl to be raped; rather, she was supposed to be raped, according to the lore I'd heard about post-apocalyptic London."The woman took me to her husband's workshop and gave me a chastity belt and French pants."
On my first night in London, a woman caught up to me in the streets. I was not Baby Girl. I was Gorehound, a male avatar named after my private term of endearment for journalists, scholars and researchers. I was barely accustomed to the stilted dynamics of the world, eyes still murky from the birth of a new character, and she caught up to me in the street. She told me she would help me if I dropped my guard. I did. Even then, I was more interested in the violence I'd heard about when I first read about Sociolotron. Here, on my first night in London, I thought I'd found a quick way to get some juicy details (good gore) for a brief game preview.
I was wrong. The woman took me to her husband's workshop and gave me a chastity belt and French pants. She said, "I was raped like three times my first night here! LOL!" She took me to a public workshop to show me how to blow glass to fulfill government contracts, and we saw an NPC (non-player character, one controlled by the computer) "harvesting" used sperm on an "obscene altar" in the corner of the workshop.
Since that first encounter, I found that there was no need to really work at upgrading my character. Sociolotron, it turns out, was not unlike a virtual New Orleans, all steamy and exotic sounding, but in reality slow moving and fairly low-key. And here I was, getting by just fine on the kindness of strangers like a some kind of southern belle with a golden codpiece. I made plenty of money and goods by simply talking to those around me. Sure, I saw all kinds of "freaky-deaky" activity, but I never ran into any trouble."What I found in Sociolotron was quite the opposite of what I was supposed to find."
That's why I made Baby Girl. At that point in my gameplay, I'd long since bored of actually playing Sociolotron. I'd experienced the grind of character advancement, the thrill of cheap and kinky sex. I enhanced Gorehound's penis and buttocks to transform him into a high-class male prostitute. I visited hell and consorted with demons, attended human sacrifices and bare knuckles fight clubs. Not once, after over four months in London, did I encounter a mean person or fall victim to any kind of accosting or molestation.
So I made Baby Girl. I walked her from one end of London to the other for over a month. It takes a long time to move in Sociolotron, which is constructed as a set of rooms with exits to the north, south, east or west. Movement is performed in the point-and-click style, and maps are scarcely available. Once one becomes proficient at navigating the world, the walking only happens so fast, and repetitive brief loads slow things down even more. It's not exactly a pleasure to control your avatar or to move about in the game world. I considered it an investment that would add some needed spark to my game experience. I badly wanted to confirm the widespread existence of rape and pillaging, as I'd heard about.
I had no luck. Baby Girl was not raped by player characters (PCs), nor was she raped by the roving gangs of NPCs, who supposedly will occasionally bend weak avatars. I can only assume that everyone is not lying to me, and that somehow I've had a singular experience. But what I found in Sociolotron was quite the opposite of what I was supposed to find."the dogged pursuit of removing any obstacle to character actions"
There's not much reason for me, as a gamer, to play Sociolotron. In almost every respect, there is another game that does what Sociolotron does, only better. Better graphics. More exciting combat (World of Warcraft). More in-depth character options (Morrowind). A deeper economic system (EVE Online). But what Sociolotron did to make itself radically different from all of the better-known massively-multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) is not an "addition" or "feature" as much as it is the dogged pursuit of removing any obstacle to character actions. So actions like rape, theft, and general assault or mayhem are possible, and character's "social" interactions range from basic sit/stand positions to sexual activities ranging from intercourse to analingus.
Everything in Sociolotron is rendered in basically stock graphics. Users find a wide variety of looks and styles by combining and coloring different base items, but in general, the map tiles that make up the world vary little, the avatars are all based on a couple of types, and the stock text and descriptions that populate the world are repetitive and often full of typos.
The interface is composed of a window that looks more like Dreamweaver than The Sims Online: There is a graphic display window that shows the isometric renderings of avatars ("toons" in Sociolotron). Beneath that is a text-based chat window. This is where most of the action happens. To the right of the screen is a set of inventory, character status, and action menus, the main control center for the game.
To build up a character's skills and wealth, players generally start out by fulfilling government bulk orders, known as "bulking." To do so, one must venture into wild areas, contend with violent mobs of NPCs (ruffians who constantly attack), collect raw materials ranging from silicone and iron to logs and wheat, then process the raw materials, then manufacture items to fulfill individual orders for things like shot glasses and dildos.
The development of character is significant, and the role-playing depth extends to mundane, but potentially character-altering or defining, ailments such as syphilis and diarrhea, to menstrual cycles and pregnancy. Pregnancies lead to births, and children share the characteristics of the two parent characters. As the child is in adolescence, the gamers who play the parent characters may choose to play the child character to help develop s/he/it's skills (hermaphrodites are rare, but possible, and popular). In the game world, the child resides at Oxford until prodded into adulthood by one of the players, who assumes full-time control of the adult character.
This game dynamic alone requires significant in-game, and often out-of-game (known as "RL" or real life), negotiations. Prostitutes who are at the right moment of their cycle may be exceptionally fertile, and a john who presses her into service might end up being the father of her child. Likewise, a couple of characters, or gamers, who really like each other can consummate their relationship with the actual birth of a child.
Of course lineage, coupled with economic and political gameplay dynamics, leads to all kinds of interesting social engagements. A poster for player-character Brat Stella's recent bid for Prime Minister features her head superimposed on an image of a nude woman in a classic cheesecake pose. She winks out from under the brim of a purple witch's cap. The wink suggests she knows about the extent to which the term "backroom politics" can take on a whole new meaning in Sociolotron.
Players fill all of the roles in government, from cabinet and representative positions to judges and bounty hunters. Businesses are incorporated, as are buildings, and these shares become connective tissue for characters. Families, whether in the genetic sense or the business sense, grow up in Sociolotron, and although they vary widely in goals and interests, they all maintain their bonds through steady social interaction."These are the things that kept me coming back to Sociolotron..."
Some Sociolotron devotees spend 10-15 hours a week playing the game, which, according to figures available from the Entertainment Software Association, is about twice the amount the average gamer spends playing everything else. But many of Sociolotron's most dedicated players spend 10-15 hours a day playing. In a game like Everquest or Everquest II, it's a bit easier to understand-Sony Online Entertainment is capable of pressing expansion after expansion and an ever-developing global storyline. There is nothing like that in Sociolotron. Everything that happens in the game happens because of players, and the notification that these things have happened is distributed by word of mouth and player-run newspapers.
The effect is that a large global story spanning a fantasy world, as we see in mainstream MMORPGs, is replaced with intimate narratives focused on individual players in a dystopian city-state. These are the things that kept me coming back to Sociolotron, not to see what the game had to offer me in terms of narrative or perspective, but to discover new characters, hear new stories.
|-------------------------------------------end part one-----|Check out Part Two, where Shawn talks to other Sociolotron players:
"I have been a hooker and a doctor-no other game allows that. And nobody in their right mind would hire a 60 year old male hooker in real life."Click here to read part two of this article.