Second Life was still somewhat new to me in the beginning of 2014. I used to dress my dollarbie avatar in medieval clothes and go from one sim to another. After I got my first inworld job, I wanted to have a little virtual space of my own. My search for low rent houses led me to a role-play sim under construction. It seemed to be more or less fashioned after the British monarchy. I was not in the least into role-playing. As I walked down one of the alleys, I noticed a male avatar that was busy building a house. He never completely rezzed on my screen so I cannot describe what exactly he was wearing at that time.
The man controlling that avatar welcomed me as soon as he saw me nearing him and asked how I found his sim out. When I told him I was just looking to rent a smaller residential place since I couldn’t afford one of the spacious houses on the sim, he politely directed me to a big two-storey house. “The rent is 5 L$ a week. There’s no rent box. You can pay me directly,” he said.
After making the house mine for the week, I decided to give that man’s profile a read. It was his first life bio that had caught my attention. His profile suggested that he was deeply into politics.
“Yeah, I am involved in media controversy and politics. So this is an escape,” he informed me when I asked him about his real life.
According to Wikipedia, Joshua Bonehill-Paine is an English far-right nationalist, internet troll, and convicted criminal from Yeovil, Somerset. However, his personality in Second Life unbelievably contradicted such claims. The man who ran an anti-communist hoax blog where he had posts defending racism was one of the nicest people to me especially after learning that I am a “person of colour”.
He had a few friends who used to help him build the sim, get traffic, interest the renters into roleplaying as citizens of the state who were going to elect their new leader in the upcoming election, and many other tasks. I had heard Bonehill and friends voice with each other openly about their plans related to the sim development and grow its role-play aspect. There were two of his friends who headed different political parties and each of them tried hard to get me to join their party! Bonehill seemed to appreciate my interest in journalism and said that he would like me to be a reporter of his state’s newspaper detailing the daily happenings in his kingdom. Sadly, all their major events like Bonehill being crowned the King would take place during my busy hours in real life.
I still remember when I was devoid of speakers for a while and could not listen to any voice chat inworld. One day Bonehill was by my house on his sim telling me something in voice of which I was totally unaware. He stood there for quite a long time before asking me if I was having trouble hearing him. He then typed to me in nearby chat all that he was telling me. His personality to me was very patient and gentle.
Much later, when the sim upgraded to all mesh, my rent remained 5 L$ a week while the others were paying a minimum of 300 L$.
There was one secret place under water where I discovered Bonehill had left a clickable coffin with a skeleton in it. The coffin read that the skeleton belonged to the King himself! When I told him about my intriguing find, he laughed and replied that he was amusing himself with it a long time ago but had forgotten all about it.
I enjoyed my time on the remarkable sim till I had to leave Second Life for real life. The sim no longer exists now. But I will always remember it not just for its grandeur but for being the place where I observed how Second Life can expose the good even in someone as ill-famed as Joshua Bonehill-Paine.