March 17, 2009 Leave a comment
I got myself a nice Mina Harker-style dress, dyed my hair jet-black and headed off in search of some blood-suckers:
Typing “vampire” into the in-world search threw up a few leads. The first couple of places I visited turned out to be undead-themed combat sims (as far as I could tell, since the welcome notes I got were in Portuguese), and I also came across several gothic clothing stores, but I eventually got lucky and landed up at the home base of one of the larger Bloodlines clans.
Half a dozen or so tall, dark, caped figures were gathered in the courtyard of a Medieval-style castle. They seemed to be waiting for something to happen, so I went over to take a look. I wasn’t sure about vampire etiquette, so I didn’t say anything at first, but after five minutes of silent inactivity I decided to break the ice.
“Are they going to like, fight, or something?” I asked the man standing next to me, gesturing towards the two heavily-armed figures at the centre of the group, who appeared to be squaring-up to one another. “I don’t know,” he replied, turning to face me. He reminded me of Christopher Lambert in Highlander 3, his trench-coat accessorised with a samauri sword. We got chatting, and he told me he had been in the clan for just a few days, having previously been a Gorean slave-master. “I got bored with all the submissiveness” he said, making me wonder what his expectations of that role had been, “so I decided to get back to my vampire roots.” “You prefer the assertive vampire girls then?” I asked, trying to sound flirtatious, but he wanted to tell me about how far he’d progressed in the vampire fighting ranks, and we ended up talking about our experiences playing D&D, which killed the moment a bit.
I had been led to believe that these Bloodlines fanatics would leap at a girl’s throat at the drop of a hat, so I was a little offended that the crowd seemed more interested in the non-existent fight than me. The awkward silence was broken by the arrival of a junior member of the clan, accompanied by a girl in a decidedly non-gothic spotty dress, who was evidently a new recruit.
One of the combatants, who turned out to be the head of the clan, broke off from the staring contest, or whatever it was, to greet the newcomers. After some small talk it was decided that we should all head off to the Turning Chamber for the Initiation Ceremony. I asked the new girl if she minded me tagging along, and she was cool with that, so I followed the others into the castle.
Now I don’t know what springs to your mind when you hear the words “Vampire Initiation Ceremony”, but I think of vintage Dracula flicks, where louche ghouls overwhelm swooning maidens in scenes of barely repressed sensuality, or, if I’m feeling particularly excitable, Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in The Hunger. At the very least I was expecting some sort of occult ritual, with a soundtrack of sinister Latin chanting.
You may imagine my disappointment then, when I discovered that the Turning Chamber resembled nothing more than a brightly-lit pub basement. The barrels that lined the walls were full of blood rather than beer, but the ambiance was definitely more functional than spooky. The focus of the room was not some unholy altar dripping with virginal blood, but a vending machine dispensing various Bloodlines products. After instructing the convert to buy several items (which cost about L$1000) the clan chief departed, leaving the actual biting to his minions. They didn’t seem to know what they were doing, and it took an age of searching in inventories and unpacking boxes, during which the poor girl had to log out and log in again twice, before her lifeblood finally began to drain away, very slowly. I asked Christopher Lambert how long this was going to take. “I don’t know, this is my first one” he said.
I chatted with the new vampire girl while we waited. What had attracted her to the blood-sucking lifestyle? The fashion sense and the romance it seemed. She was hoping it would get a bit better.
Christopher eventually got round to asking me if I would like to join the clan too, but I politely declined. If I ever give up my virtual soul I want it to be more meaningful than a cold transaction in a characterless cellar. The rich symbolism of the vampire myth deserves more respect.
(I know it’s unfair to dismiss Second Life Vampire culture based on a brief visit to one sim, so I’m open to suggestions of places I should visit for a more satisfying experience. Post them to email@example.com, and I’ll review them in a future post, if they’re any good).