Ex-Governor Mark Warner reveals SL Action Figure’s Identity

by Pixeleen Mistral on 31/08/06 at 8:54 pm

Exclusive behind-the-scenes photos of politician/Nextel founder — with no SL billing information on file!
by Pixeleen Mistral, Herald National Affairs desk

Mark Warner: “This is my first virtual appearance, I’m feeling a little disembodied!”

Second Life turns out in style — newbs and all — to hear from former Virginia governor Mark Warner

Second Life avatar Mark Warner today shocked the metaverse by disclosing his RL identity as Mark Warner — the former Governor of Virginia. This amazing revelation came during an interview at the New Globe Theatre and confirmed an in-depth Herald investigation dating back nearly 24 hours. Wednesday afternoon I was paged by the Herald offices. Our high tech tip-gathering network had noticed that the Millions of Us sim was open and had several people in residence. Needless to say, I investigated.

When I saw was something unusual: business attire. I asked if there was a story and a resident named Dale Dahlgren hinted there would be, Thursday at 3:30 EST and then said, “You should google ‘mark warner’”. I compared the picture from Mark Warner’s political action committee to the silent avatar with a sportcoat and tie next to Dale, and realized two terrible things were happening. Big-time politics were invading SL and Dale had just violated the TOS by revealing another avatar’s RL personal information! Dale promised to get me on the list for the event, so I refrained from abuse reporting him. Besides, there’s never a Linden around when you need one.

I was feeling pleased with myself until New World Notes reporter Hamel Au tp’ed in and ended up standing on top of my shoulders. I must have been on the tp landing pad, and Hamlet was too preoccupied assisting Nancy Mandelbrot (a Warner staffer) to notice what his shoes were doing to me. Hamlet is no lightweight, but after I asked him to get off me a couple times the weight of the world finally lifted. Reporting for the Herald is not an easy business, but I’m sure after 6 months of chiropractic treatments my avatar will feel ever so much better. I’ll need the money for this up-front, of course. Does anyone have an in-world address for Hamlet? I know some bill collectors that want to chat with him.

As my back un-kinked, I tried to strike up a conversation with the Mark Warner avatar and got no response. I felt unsettled. A politician that won’t talk is like no politician I have ever seen. Could it be that this avatar was nothing more than an SL “action figure”? American political observers are well aware of the use of dolls action figures by state governors. Jesse “The Body” Ventura pioneered this when his campaign used an action figure in ads that culminated in a surprise victory for the former pro wrestler in 1998. It was only a matter of time until someone decided to take this to the next level. To try to keep campaign finances from spinning out of control, let us hope that Linden Labs does not cash in on this mania by starting to charge special fees for reservations on celebrity names. Reserving spaces for land on the Grid is bad enough already. Like the land reservation scheme, reserving names would require celebrities to defensively register their names to keep them out of the hands of others. Are we looking at the beginning of SL name squatters like the DNS naming hysteria of the dot-com era? Only time will tell.

The Governor limbers up his waving gesture before hitting the stage

Name registration costs are real concern because at press time there remain unanswered questions about the finances behind Mark Warner’s avatar. Apparently money is tight since the ex-Governor is running an unverified account. This will limit sites for a promised open town-hall style meeting, given the tendency of land owners to ban unverified avatars in Second Life. Maybe if his PAC sets out some tip jars to solicit donations they can upgrade the governor to a premium account. On the other hand, an unverified account has more of a man-of-the-people feel to it. What would Karl Rove do?

Univerified, and still undeclared

Which brings us to the interview itself — which was surprisingly griefer-free. Like any campaign stump speech, it is best to let the words wash over you and recall that this is a form of theatre (especially since the event took place in a theatre). For those that are interested, 3pointD has a transcript. The speech said nothing about the political scene in SL itself, which is probably just as well. I’m not sure anyone can resolve the contradictions inherent in SL at this point. RL politics are relatively simple in comparison.

Millions of Us handlers help the Governor contain himself

More interesting than the interview itself was the scene backstage before the interview, where the Millions of Us handlers put the governor through his paces, practicing waves, helping him keep his feet on the ground and apparently adjusting the size of the avatar as well. He sure looked a lot taller once he was on stage, but maybe it was just the hardware lighting. Perhaps the best RL use of SL for politics going forward will be in producing inexpensive machinima-based political attack ads. This would help create a market for lifelike G.W. Bush and Hillary Clinton avatar costumes, with obvious benefits for SL content creators, and an improved balance of payments between SL and RL. In any case, I’m sure we will soon see expensive consultants perfect the art of avatar debate theatrics, and look back fondly on these simple times when unverified action figures first graced our world with canned stump speeches.

5 Responses to “Ex-Governor Mark Warner reveals SL Action Figure’s Identity”

  1. Prokofy Neva

    Aug 31st, 2006

    I’m disappointed the Herald didn’t do due diligence and get the story on the slider numbers. The duffel bag. Looks to be in the 73 range?

  2. nonsmokingarea.com

    Sep 1st, 2006

    SecondLife meets (reallife-)politics

    earlier this week, the grid was campaigned by a major US-politician for the first time. former Virginia governor and Democrats possible spare-candidate (in case Hillary Clinton opts out) for president, Mark Warner, did a live-interview with Wagn…

  3. rikomatic

    Sep 4th, 2006

    What an incredibly vapid story on an event that could have enormous impact on Second Life and be the harbinger of how future real world politics is conducted. I’d like my 3.5 minutes back I spent reading this uninformative, silly article.

  4. Walker Spaight

    Sep 4th, 2006

    You mean this “always fairly unbalanced article” ;-]

  5. Mabb Dilweg

    Sep 6th, 2006

    Oh Bravo. Give the Event its Due – it was a stunt and deserves to be treated as one. Indeed, it was a vapid event so a vapid story was entirely appropriate. Please, please can we NOT have a repeat? I absolutely HATE the thought of real world politics, let alone US politics, invading my alternate universe. Please let’s discourage this kind of thing from becoming the norm. Ugh!

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