We hear a lot about children having sex online. Usually though, its Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator," or something along those lines: tales of a middle-aged redneck with a handle-bar mustache aching to take advantage of PrettyPolly13. Are internet predators a problem? Sure. But that doesn't mean that kid aren't out there having cybersex between themselves. Just like adults, they're willing to be downright inventive to do it. Remember "the teen community" Habbo Hotel? Even though there's no currency and no sex words allowed, Habbo prostitution lives on.Talk about emergent behavior. Furniture is the new cash and sex becomes "bobba."
That said, Club Penguin doesn't seem like a particular sexy environment. The game is made up of arctic-themed social environments and mini-games. Everyone's a portly, adorable penguin. Plus, it's super "safe"–one might even be tempted to say "paranoid." Just look at all the warnings about inappropriate chat, not to mention the reminders that a moderator is always watching. You can even go into "ultimate safe-chat" mode, where chat is so restricted, no one could possibly say anything offensive (Then again, they found a way in Habbo Hotel). Still, safety is one of the game's selling points with parents. And while adults can come play, just being over eighteen in Club Penguin makes you feel a bit like a perv.
Not that Club Penguin doesn't have it's dark, more adult touches. But the problem with searching for sex in Club Penguin is that, even for the sake of research, I'm not going to go around trying to incite sexual encounters with what could well be children under the age of eight. And after numerous hours spent hanging out, skying, and playing Connect Four, no one seems to have made a pass at me. At least, not that I can tell. Maybe the "safe-chat" and the moderators and the paranoia really has weeded out all traces of sex in Club Penguin. Or maybe I just don't know where to look. But if those penguins really are getting it on, I guess I'll never know...
Bonnie Ruberg is a writer, researcher, and all around fangirl with a big crush on games. Find more of her work at Gamasutra, The Onion A. V. Club, or her blog, Heroine Sheik. She can be reached at .