What does it mean to get married in a virtual world?
The creators of the Red Light Center (RLC) [NSFW] are trying to answer that question. On Valentine’s Day, the adult-themed 3D world hosted two mass weddings [NSFW]. Modeled after Amsterdam’s red light district, RLC is a place where players choose personal avatars and have virtual sex with other users.
Five couples tied the knot in ceremonies performed by one of the RLC’s Justice of the Peace officiates. Held in the RLC Zaby Lobby at 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (PST), the events attracted large crowds of friends and observers.
Couples gathered 15 minutes beforehand in order to sign in to the event. After the ceremonies, they all received an official commemorative wedding certificate.
Speaking to Future of Sex about the mass weddings, RLC President Anna Lee described the allure behind the idea.
The appeal to celebrate publically your love for your partner is a big one, and I think people will love to be a part of this monumental occasion, as well as claiming the title of being one of the first people to get married in the new platform.
After launching in beta in September 2014, the new RLC 2.0 platform features extensive graphic overhauls, a new browser client, and is now Oculus Rift-enabled.
The couple with the best love story will win a one-on-one dream ceremony to be held in summer 2015. The winning users will be announced on March 7, and will receive a luxurious wedding wardrobe as part of their prize. Their venue costs will be covered and the ceremony will be professionally filmed and photographed.
Weddings are becoming an increasingly common aspect of massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) and virtual communities. Yet they are exempt from both the pressures, and privileges, which typically drive such events.
There’s no political gain, or religious pressure, to virtually officiate your union. Virtual weddings also fail to provide an economic benefit for users, lacking the financial offsets and tax breaks often provided to married couples.
However, despite the lack of a tangible upside, virtual weddings are becoming more popular, with the RLC already hosting close to 100 per month.
According to Lee, this upward trend is part of what led to the RLC management team to host mass wedding ceremonies for users.
“Thousands of couples over the years have been married in our virtual world,” she said. “This is a fantastic way to celebrate and recognize that.”
The event also served as a publicity push for the RLC’s newly upgraded 3D world. Lee explained that the commitment ceremonies provided an illustrative showcase for RLC 2.0’s highly improved graphics and redesigned virtual environment.
Although weddings are still primarily a social ritual, participants in virtual marriages seem to be engaging in a fluid mix of escapist role-play and genuine emotion. And while it’s still unclear what draws people into such relationships, it’s worth remembering that studies have proven they’re no less satisfying than the real-life version.
Would you get married in a virtual wedding ceremony?
Images source: DoubleChok