When it was first announced, the Linden Lab RFP for an Adult Gateway caused something of a stir among the Adult community. Just over a month ago, word circulated in-world that the Freedom Continent had won the bid; something that was not officially confirmed until the Adult Content User Group meeting on Monday November 6th.
Freedom Continent is a consortium of experienced Adult activity SL users and sim owners who have come together to provide a pooled resource of adult activities and who have had their sims relocated in-world to form a “mini-continent”. For the past several weeks, they’ve been at work developing the new Adult Gateway, which is located to the south of the current core of Freedom Continent sims.
In all, five sims have been allocated to that Gateway project – a central hub called Zindra Prime, surrounded on all four side by “focus” regions called North, South, West and East. Currently, three of the sims – North, Prime and South – are nearing completion, and work is underway on the remaining two. As such, I thought I’d pay the new Gateway a visit and see what was happening and what the broader plans might be.
The use of “Zindra” in the region names may seem a trifle confusing given none of them are physically connected to the Adult continent of the same name. This is because Linden Lab have decided that the name should be used exclusively with the new Gateway, rather than in reference to a specific geographic region in-world (not that the continent itself will be changing name). As such, the new Gateway represents all Adult activities in Second Life, regardless of physical location or ownership, and will provide a means of entry to those activities for anyone wishing to explore them.
Zindra Prime is intended as an arrival hub and information centre for those who are perhaps exploring Adult activities for the first time. From here, they can explore any or all of the four “compass” sims – North, South, West and East, each of which is specifically themed in terms of Adult content – the North sim, for example is for all activities related to BDSM and the south sim to Gor / medieval.
This has been a deliberate design choice, as Serjourn Daxter, one of the project’s leaders and a Freedom Continent pioneer, explained to me during my visit. “We’ve seen that ‘Adult’ is a far from homogenous term. BDSMers seem to be less than fond of Goreans and the traditional CARP/RP groups are not big fan of others – although some people play in more than one camp. So we have made four focus sims, surrounding the Adult hub.”
Each of the four focus sims has a unique build which reflects the environment it represents and provides a mix of areas that can be used for informational purposes or as shop fronts for Adult communities, sims and stores. Given this, I asked if the various hubs would offer classes for newcomers?
“The central hub will focus on adult in general,” Serjourn replied. “The speciality hubs will focus on their respective specialities. For example, the GOR hub will teach game meters, and the BDSM hub RLV. We will offer small shop space and adboards to let businesses present themselves.”
She continued, “The idea is really – when you come to the adult world, you need to feel welcome, learn basic skills and find your area of interest. So the idea is, you get here and you may or may not have skills. If you lack basic skills, we supply them in the main hub. We help you get to where your interest may be. If you lack, say, BDSM specific skills, your next stop may be the BDSM hub. But we don’t want to send an unskilled newcomer with a desire for sex action to a Gor sim, and certainly not without knowledge of what Gor is.”
And moving beyond the hubs, and helping people to get to where they might want to go? “We will not differentiate where a business is located,” Serjourn stated firmly, “We will gladly share traffic.”
As it is, staff – particularly non-English speakers – are being sought, and plans are to have full 24/7 cover on the sims to provide maximum support and assistance to visitors. The hubs themselves are certainly open to exploration and discovery; I spent a pleasant hour wandering between them and getting a feel for things. The builds are clean and simple, display space is plentiful, and region crossings relatively smooth.
Given the layout of the hub sims, I asked if there were plans for expansion. “We offer sim owners the opportunity to join the appropriate sector of continent, subject to the LL fee for sim moves,” Serjourn confirmed. “We have a lot of BDSM sims joining, and we are open for other sims. There are already [on-going] talks with GOR sims. We will have open areas between the sectors, so some sims will always have a water border.”
With working progressing so well, my last question to Serjourn was whether an opening date had been set for the Gateway. “Well, the target is Sunday,” she replied. “Then a week of ramp up and adjustments,” she added, then laughed, “It may be LATE on Sunday!”
There has been a lot of angst generated by the entire Adult Gateway RFP and how it has been handled over the last few months. However, what is being developed in the new Gateway sims looks to be a worthy addition to the Adult community, and will hopefully prove to be a benefit to all parties across the grid.
Update 14th November
In order to prevent confusion over the use of the name Zindra, Freedom Continent have voted to drop the name from the new Gateway. The new hub regions will now simply be called “Adult Hub”, followed by the focus name (so “Adult Hub BDSM” for example). Serjourn did hint this may well be the case during our interview, and a unanimous vote on the part of the Freedom Continent’s management group determined the name Zindra would be voluntarily dropped in order to assist in promoting unity within the Adult community.