We've already heard recently about the sexy side of Second Life, a virtual world in which the players' imaginations are more or less the limits. This article, however, shows just what can -- and does -- happen in an 18 environment where players are given free rein. Although Second Life is no stranger to kinks and perversions, some fetishes provoke far stronger opposition than others.

The case in point here is age play, a pastime in which adults put on kiddy avatars and act out scenes which would, in the real world, be considered paedophilic. Thanks to Second Life's strict separation of minors and adults, everyone taking part is of age, which makes for an interesting moral debate. Is this activity virtual paedophilia, an offensive type of sexual play that should be banned lest it lead to real crime? Or is it simply an extension of the fantasy world, a harmless activity carried out in private?

Sex-based virtual world Rapture Online, mentioned in the article, is playing it safe from the outset by not letting adults look like children. In SL, however, some official decisions may eventually have to be made on this front -- the simple existence of this sort of activity is enough to get some people riled up, but by infringing on users' freedoms to fantasise about whatever they want in private, the world loses some of its strength.

[Thanks, Ken. Image shows items available from some of SL's kid-themed shops.]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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