As real-world Americas flock to voting stations in order to get the 2016 Presidential election over with, virtual versions of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take to the streets of Second Life for last-minute campaigning and carousing. Update: Additional reporting from the Clinton HQ as election night came to a close.
The recreation of the Trump mansion I visited earlier this year may be gone, but both viable Presidential candidates maintain a healthy presence in Linden Labs’ aging virtual world.
Though deserted earlier this morning, the unofficial Hillary Clinton campaign headquarters is slowly filling with supporters as the day progresses.
Avatars showing their support for the Democratic nominee linger in the seating area in front of a cardboard cutout of Clinton. During my first visit a tiny skunk avatar ran through the area tossing beer bottles before disappearing as quickly as it had appeared.
Shortly after the skunk incident, a special guest appeared at Hillary’s headquarters: a somewhat reasonable facsimile of the presidential hopeful herself.
There something off about the Clinton avatar. It might be the chin. Or the hair. Or a combination of factors that lead us screaming into the uncanny valley.
Uncanny Hillary is also the face of a special election night party happening this evening at 10 PM Eastern.
The party is being held by the Hillary Clinton 2016 Second Life group (not to be confused with the still-existing Hillary Clinton 2008 Second Life group). They’ve got a live DJ lined up, with a special area decked out with festive decorations.
Meanwhile, at the unofficial Trump headquarters, which was notably empty following the Republican candidate’s nomination earlier this year, things are also beginning to pick up.
When I arrived, the faux-Donald himself was holding court for a small number of supporters. The avatar, as blocky and ill-defined as it is, felt a bit closer to real life than Second Life Hillary, though the hands could have been a bit smaller.
Where the Clinton SL campaign has an official-looking building, Trump holds court on a strip of sandy beach decorated with the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, a campfire and various bits of literature for those curious about the campaign. It’s clear virtual Trump is aiming for the non-crafting Second Life resident vote.
Slightly more active was the Trump Pub, a cozy little bar where a variety of Trump supports (and I am guessing folks just looking to cause a stir) were animatedly discussing the voting process.
Though the walls were dotted with harsh attacks on Clinton, everyone seemed pretty nice.
As my tour of the Second Life Presidential election headquarters and satellite locations wound down, I stopped by the Hillary Clinton headquarters for one last picture, only to find a familiar face standing outside.
Over the course of the past half hour or so, a small crowd, maybe seven or eight people in total, have gathered outside the Hillary headquarters. Some tell Trump to leave, that he’s not wanted there. Others question why the player supports Trump. Someone accuses a Hillary supporter of voting for the Democrat simply because she is a woman. Someone calls Bill Clinton a rapist. It’s pretty much any given day on Facebook over the past several months, only there’s a virtual chicken standing nearby.
Update 11/9/2016, 9 AM: I spent election night in Hillary Clinton’s Second Life headquarters. Dozens of avatars arrived to show their support (or spam fart emotes). The mood shifted from hopeful elation to uncertainty as the evening progressed, as several avatars (myself included) analyzed the incoming results from various sources. By 2 AM Eastern the gathered group had largely accepted the election’s outcome outcome.
As I logged off to investigate a bottle of very nice tequila, the few remaining stragglers were suggesting they hold an in-world election limited to Second Life residents. They were confident Clinton would come out on top.