Not so childish play…

In the fall of 2007, several large corporations were jumping on the Second Life bandwagon. By October, CBS announced that they would feature Second Life on their popular television series, CSI:NY, along with a launch of a role play. Watch the show! Solve the mystery in Second Life! Or so the story went. A week prior to the CBS special, Second Life founder, Philip Rosedale along with the CSI series creator, Anthony Zuiker, predicted the CSI roleplay would bring thousands, if not millions, of new users to the second life landscape. A UgoTrade reporter even breathlessly wrote:

“When Anthony E. Zuiker Creator, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, (in picture above with Philip Rosedale, CEO Linden Lab), CSI: Miami, CSI: NY delivered his keynote at Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo in San Jose last week, I felt I was listening to the world class player who would be the first big winner of the virtual world’s e-jackpot.”

in their article, “Second LIfe Going Mainstream with CSI: New York.” The grid was supposedly abuzz. Moreover, local and national media were wondering if Second Life would be the next California gold rush. The hype, of course, did not quite carry the punch that the dot-bomb hype carried… you know, back when over-night millionaires were flying to Germany to purchase special order Mercedes and putting down payments on multi-million dollar homes. We have been, after all, in a recession. Some might even characterize our state of economy as a depression. for that matter.

As with any company that is predicted to “go mainstream,” people in general, and the media, specifically will begin to take a closer look. In this case, that closer look resulted in the UK special on pedophiles in Second Life, along with an investigative series that exposed the pedophile playground, “Wonderland.” This was not the first time the ageplay monster had raised its ugly head. Nor would it be the last. The ageplay issue was initially raised in the spring of 2006, when CNet’s report on “Phony kids, virtual sex” quoted a comment by former VP of Community Development, Robin Harper:

There are people in (‘Second Life’) who are role-playing (as) children engaged in sexual activities. While not a terms-of-service violation–no illegal activity–it could be argued that this behavior is broadly offensive and therefore violates the community standards. If this activity were in public areas it would be viewed as being broadly offensive, and therefore unacceptable.

However, it was not until October 2007, literally, three days after the launch of CBS’ CSI:NY sims, that the public at large became aware of the ageplay issue. Linden Lab was initially reticient to do anything whatsoever about the accusations, stating that:

At present, we have no firm evidence of wrongdoing from our own investigations into Wonderland nor from our Abuse Report channel.

Though, by the middle of November, the pressure from public outrage was enough to force them to rethink their position. Even so, from their November 14, 2007 announcement, some might argue they were doing nothing more than engaging in lip service to appease a media machine that could most certainly crush them in one fell swoop:

Under our Community Standards policy, real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depictions of sexual or lewd acts involving or appearing to involve children or minors are not allowed within Second Life. When detected, individuals and groups promoting or providing such content and activities will be subject to sanctions, which may include termination of accounts, closure of groups, removal of content, and loss of land or access to land.

By May 2008, other real life concerns began to make themselves apparent. Specifically in the form of U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, who created his own avie to hunt for the “rape rooms” described in the UK investigative video. And then, upon finding them, authored a proposed bill to restrict access to Second Life (and other social networking sites) from public schools and libraries.

Linden Lab has long courted the educational sector. And if Rep Kirk’s bill were to pass, that could be a potentially devastating blow for a company who sees themselves as the school room of the future. By the time Rep Kirk proposed his bill, CBS decided to shut down their sims. While some alleged that the CSI:NY game was nothing more than an extravagant ad campaign, they have yet to explain the October hype (ala, we’re going to build CSI:Miami and CSI:LV). Other large companies began to distance themselves as well.

By January of 2009, the public furor over the Second Life sex scandal had all but died down when rumors of a grid merge began to spread in response to a Metanomics interview with Philip Rosedale, wherein he stated:

“The future of second life needs to be one where people of all ages can use Second Life together. And that’s the direction we’re taking in our planning and our work.”

By March of 2009, Linden Lab announced the creation of an adult continent. The adult continent, or what many referred to as the new ghetto, would be slated for content that was either overtly sexually explicit in nature and/or gratuitously violent. Or so we were told. With this news, some speculated that a grid merge was most certainly on Linden Lab’s horizon. By the time they posted their April 2009 announcement, the media had picked up the story, running such headlines as, “Second Life to banish racy content” and “Can Second Life regulate virtual sex?” In response to community concerns, various Lindens have repeatedly stated the goal was to make the second life “experience more predictable” and more “family oriented.” They additionally noted that the “new and improved age” verification system would be put in place to prevent minors from accessing “adult” material. Even though minors are not allowed on the main grid.

On June 15, Jack Linden announced the opening of the adult continent, renamed from its original code name, “Ursula” to “Zindra.” The new continent seems rather anachronistic, when considering Second Life’s virtual red light district is slated for explicit sex and gratuitous violence. Speaking of… The day before Jack’s announcement, RedLightCenter.com announced it has “Opened an Embassy” on the new adult continent, also noting that it is now open for business. I won’t get into the question of how they managed to open for business the day before the regular residents even have had a chance to “stake out” their parcels in the new frontier to which they have been bannished.

In the meantime, back on Zindra, the sims were weighted down with massive lag as various residents dropped by to take a look see. I must admit, I was surprised to see a child avie dancing with the others in this “alleged sex and violence continent.” Though, looking back at my chat logs, I see that this individual has been more than a tad interested in the development of Zindra. My only question is, “why?

If she is supposed to be a child avie, then why oh why is she exhibiting an uncharactieristiclly (for a play-pretend child, that is) interest in a place that is inappropriate for children? Especially after Wonderland? I can’t pretend to know her motives but as they say, behavior speaks louder than words. Or rather, in this case, her words do. Here’s an excerpt from the day’s “festivities

[2009/06/15 20:04] Chandra Magic: i THOUGHT THERE WA SSOME SORT OF RULES ON SUCH THINGS CAND CHILD AVS? O.O;

[2009/06/15 20:04] Kyle Hayashi: If you want to flash some dongs the Linden can’t touch you, their own rules.

[2009/06/15 20:04] Chandra Magic: Fucking capslock. D:

[2009/06/15 20:04] 3Ring Binder: you can’t jsut walk around with your naughty bits hanging out

[2009/06/15 20:04] Marianne McCann: zOMG! There are

[2009/06/15 20:05] Marianne McCann giggles

[2009/06/15 20:05] Kyle Hayashi: Yes you can

[2009/06/15 20:05] Kyle Hayashi: :3

[2009/06/15 20:05] Talia Tokugawa: hmmmm titan twister anyone?

[2009/06/15 20:05] Cynebald Ceawlin: Wow, this has turned out differentthat I expected

[2009/06/15 20:05] Kyle Hayashi: Adult sims, LL’s rules.

[2009/06/15 20:05] Blondin Linden: No WOrries Chand. CHild avs are allowed on Zndra

[2009/06/15 20:05] Mahakala Omegamu: Yup

[2009/06/15 20:05] Airt Pexington: hope you got a photo of the big boy, going to be a lot of firsts on this continent XD

[2009/06/15 20:05] Chandra Magic: Yah, but I thought they couldn’t be around mature things.

[2009/06/15 20:05] Chandra Magic: And, uh, trust me; I’m not worried about child avs.

[2009/06/15 20:05] 3Ring Binder: but naughty bits and child av’s are nto allowed together

[2009/06/15 20:05] 3Ring Binder: and the child was here first

[2009/06/15 20:05] Verena Vuckovic: Hey…you’re spoiling my view of me

[2009/06/15 20:05] Chandra Magic: So wait.

[2009/06/15 20:06] Kyle Hayashi: Theyre not allowd together if someone sees you

[2009/06/15 20:06] Kyle Hayashi: But trees, forests, etc.

[2009/06/15 20:06] 3Ring Binder: someone’s tryiong to make me crash

[2009/06/15 20:06] 3Ring Binder: well, LOL we are all here

[2009/06/15 20:06] Chandra Magic: We get shipped off ot a concentration camp and -still- we’re fucked?

[2009/06/15 20:06] Marianne McCann: Chandra – here;s a handy weblink! http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/child_Avatars

I have no idea who 3Ring Binder is, nor do I care, for that matter, esp after their asinine comment, “the child was here first.” As for Marriane? Yes, I have heard that she is supposedly repentant for her gross lack of judgement however her posting of wiki link hardly supports that bit. Then again, since she is play-pretending to be a child. Perhaps she is also play-pretending to be repentant. Either way, here’s her post about visiting Zindra.

No matter. The above says it all. So much for the claim that Linden Lab is “cleaning up their act.” It will be interesting to see how they respond when the media gets ahold of this absurdity. I admittedly cannot imagine the Lab would be so stupid as to officially state that child avies will be allowed in the Second Life “sex and violence zone.”

Then again, prior to their grand opening, I would never have thought any Linden would have been as bold and foolish as Blondin was. Though, I suppose he could plead temporary insanity due to the stress of dealing with angry residents over the past three months.

Oh and. By the way, I was over @ Zindra the other day and it seems the child avies have indeed descended upon the adult continent.

3 Comments

  1. CommentsAngela Talamasca   |  Monday, 22 June 2009 at 06:18

    New blog post: Not so childish play… http://blog.vrhacks.net/?p=120

  2. CommentsDonah Moon   |  Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 19:16

    Just watching some clips from ZNMD .. Really fun!!vcw http://t.co/isOmVDQo

  3. CommentsKidder Lemon   |  Wednesday, 19 October 2011 at 23:39

    Just rubbed the fact that I have Friday in so many people facexcwCAe http://t.co/bTpwbmpJ

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