Sunday, March 22, 2009


A virtual world like Second Life can give rise to events and traditions that simply…well, that just make no sense or couldn't happen at all in real life. I've attended conferences with educators from all over the world, live music events from artists I will probably never have a chance to meet in real life, and visited places (many many places) that simply would be impossible to create in the real world.

One of Second Life's most whimsical—and apparently long-standing—traditions is the Giant Snail Race. The premise is that SL residents don preposterously large and crazy snail avatars, and maneuver them (quite clumsily) over obstacle courses and tracks to…well, see who has the fastest snail! I'd heard about the snail races but had never been…but yesterday a friend instant-messaged me in the middle of a game saying "Come quick! Giant snails are racing by the infohub!" And sure enough—the giant snails weren't racing on a pre-defined obstacle course: they were racing through roads in the Second Life mainland in a Relay for Life event to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Giant snails cross that bridge when they come to it!

The snails are massive: in human terms, they're probably 10m tall and even longer. Each snail was labelled with the name of the racer, clicking a snail enabled avatars to donate the ACS, and the snails were totally tricked out for the race, sporting all manner of decorations. Avatars lined the route, flying to catch up with the leaders then watching the procession of snails go by. The event is just as wonderful—and just as silly—as it sounds, with these totally unwieldy snails attempting to navigate basically human-scale roads.

Snails pile up at the border of the Noyo sim, trying to complete the race

I only caught the very end of the race…and the snails ran into a bit of a roadblock with a sim near the finish line being too full to admit new avatars (even giant snails). Snails piled up on the sim border like...a giant slimy pile of snails!

The event seems like a lot of fun, and I hope to be able to catch the "regular" Giant Snail Races in the future.


  1. Glad to see you discovered the Snail Races. They're one of SL's wackiest and slimiest-in-a-good-way events.

  2. I just did this for the first time -- AWESOME. Will definitely be trying to catch them in the future -- give a shout if you're going, I'm in!


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