Second Life Image Tarnished by Users?

by Alphaville Herald on 26/07/08 at 8:25 pm

RiversRunRed CEO warns against allowing residents to create 3D content

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

MIT Technology Review writer Brian White advises the metaverse that users may make “shoddy and even offensive content” if allowed to create in 3D worlds — sentiments echoed by the CEO of RiversRunRed Justin Bovington who praised internet advertising giant Google for hiring partnering with RiversRunRed to create content, and warned against unfettered access to creative tools saying “Many brands have experienced pollution and even counterfeit of their brands in other 3-D worlds or environments–not to mention the questionable material that users put forth that led to a tarnished image for Second Life.”

The controlled content creation issue raises concerns for significant parts of the Second Life population. Goreans, BDSM communities, ageplayers, virtual escort service workers, furries, and others created much of the novelty that attracted both press and players to the Second Life platform as an escape from a humdrum real life. Unfortunately for these groups, the ad-driven worlds appear to be moving in lockstep toward a real-life in virtual-life vision, while being cheered on by the Technology Review. Recent comments by Linden Lab’s own Mitch Kapor also suggest that the freewheeling era may be passing.

Although spreading the corporate message may be less effective while allowing players to actually play their own games in an ad-sponsored social space, the boredom factor may force Google’s hand, as the Technology Review story goes on to state that Google is considering allowing user content creation at some unspecified future date. Presumably the danger of brand pollution must be weighed against to lure of free content to drive viewers to tightly targeted ads – Google’s stock in trade.

There was no word on what, if any, digital rights management tools might be made available by Google should it allow for user content creation, or if creators will be placed in a position of donating their work to attract ad viewers, something like Massively Staff writers are currently doing in support of struggling rival internet ad agency AOL.

While corporate ad purveyors remain wary of unruly users, the lure of more revenue remains a powerful motivation, and Google seems keen to retain it’s internet advertising dominance. For metaverse developers, moving away from Second Life is almost a requirement now that last year’s high profile advertislands in SL have become rare. At least one 3D development studio seems happy with the new direction, as Sibley Verbeck, leader of the Electric Sheep Company, gave Google a big wet sloppy kiss, saying “There is no question [that Lively] is a very positive thing. Whenever a major, innovative company makes some kind of bet, it gives validity to the industry.”

The question now is if enough players will agree with Mr. Verbeck, and how much of Google’s cash mountain will be spent on developing ad-word funded 3D spaces inside web pages.

26 Responses to “Second Life Image Tarnished by Users?”

  1. Lord Kamina

    Jul 26th, 2008

    Oh boy, more anti-capitalist rhetoric from Chomsky’s brainwashed hippy army. Google has observed what worked and what did not work with Second Life and is applying a different approach. Trying the same failed tactic multiple times in an attempt to succeed is not only a waste of resources, it’s poor business management, which is exactly what we all have observed from Linden Lab.

    The fact is that people like the Furries and the Goreans have completely destroyed Second Life and would do the same to Lively as fast as they could. These groups turned what was supposed to be a game with mass appeal into a niche market that turns regular people away faster than IntLibber downs a triple chocolate sundae.

    I applaud Google in preventing stupidity from flooding in and washing Lively away in a sea of fetishists, but I sincerely hope they stay as far away from the whole “metaverse” concept as possible. The whole “virtual worlds” ideology is tiring and as a concept is completely ridiculous.

  2. Connie Sec

    Jul 26th, 2008

    Well..To me, user created content IS the “Killer App”..not voice, or being able to chat in a 3d space. Imagine if you will, that the entire net was policed for “offensive content”. It would ,I argue, have been strangled at birth.
    Let the google’s of this world try to police and be arbiter of content. They will fail because of it.

  3. Obscure Doodad

    Jul 26th, 2008

    It’s the network TV approach to virtual worlds. Reach out to the left side of The Bell Curve and grab low IQ dollars, because with dollars it is quantity, not quality, that counts. It seems to not have occurred to any of these folks that SL would have nothing at all, good or bad, without user created content — for which LL paid nothing. These leech types circling the Google cashcow for handouts to pay for content will soon face the ROI equation Google will have to face. When I increases, R/I shrinks. When that is noticed, the spigot to the leeches gets turned off.

  4. Mike

    Jul 27th, 2008

    Well, the market will show which approach will win, if any. I’m sure the same people who wear Nike sneakers, Gucci handbags, and Rolex watches will want an equally vapid corporate experience in a 3D world, so Lively has nothing to fear.

    Unlike the real world, however, where advertising dollars create a marketing bubble around everybody, online, the rest of the population can create their own spaces.

    As far as I’m concerned, the problem with Second Life is not that it has too much 3D content creation, but too little. It’s hard to do anything really good in it.

  5. Jovin

    Jul 27th, 2008

    It’s going to be a much simpler equation – pay something, make whatever you want OR pay nothing, make what we let you and look at all the ad’s. It’s the same equation as on the web now – you can have a free ad-sponsored service or a ‘clean’ pay one.

  6. Just Me

    Jul 27th, 2008

    there’s certainly no question in my mind .. user created content is what makes SL .. any virtual world without it won’t cut it , in my estimation.

    I can chat anywhere .. I don’t need voice or an avatar to chat … it’s the total experience and the innovation that does it for me

  7. MilosZ MilosZ

    Jul 27th, 2008

    RiversRunRend should be strung up and left to the buzzards for biting the hand that fed him

  8. Marc Woebegone

    Jul 27th, 2008

    Google’s Lively has it down. User created content is a great initiator of a small site making everyone believe they’re an artist; but, at the end of the day, it get quite boring and lacking in originality given the mediocrity which dominates.

    The result, a patchwork of nonsense and chaos.

    Marc Woebegone

  9. dandellion Kimban

    Jul 27th, 2008

    I am amazed how people with no imagination and creativity can come up with ideas like this and then even be supported with “Chomsky’s hippy army) paranoia. Not the first time that we hear from them. Not the last as well. Who cares?


    Jul 27th, 2008

    wow. Took you guys HOW long to figure this out?
    I mean…haha….noone would find a gigantic wolf with tits, a cock and muscles that would put even the worst steroid abuser to shame, not odd at all. NOT AT ALL.
    Good god you guys are fucking numbskulls.

  11. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Jul 27th, 2008

    “Brian White advises the metaverse that users may make “shoddy and even offensive content” if allowed to create in 3D worlds”

    CAPTAIN OBVIOUS to the rescue! Seriously, I could have told you that shit before SL even existed. Allowing users to create content has ALWAYS been a guaranteed way to turn anything on the internet into a steaming, festering pile of depravity and decadence.

  12. Cocoanut Koala

    Jul 27th, 2008

    Good heavens! I’m surprised so many commenters are put off by (or think others are put off by) the depravity and so forth available in SL.

    Here I am, straight as a church-going mouse, and it doesn’t bother me.

    I suppose plenty are put off by it. But nothing can be all things to all people.

    Wow, RRR thinks Google is doing a terrific thing to hire/partner with them for creating content, rather than allowing others to make content of their own.

    What a surprise!


  13. KMeist Hax

    Jul 28th, 2008

    Uh… duh?

    Of course your rep is going to be based off your userbase. Let’s do a word-association game here. What do you think of when you think of Second Life?

    “Lag, virtual worlds, furries, goreans, BDSM, sex, sandbox.”

    While LL is responsible for the lag by not being able to code, a lot of it is their users; LL actively maintained stances of “nothing is too much” for their first few years of operation and now they’re backtracking because of the negative reaction upon logging into the world for the first time and being greeted by a 8-foot-tall anthropomorphic sports-mascot-type with a throbbing cock. Furries and goreans will only get you so far.

    And to point out this further this isn’t caused by having user-generated content, it’s caused by LL’s utter lack of enforcement of the “PG” policy. I’ll contrast with another “virtual world” that actually admits it’s a game: Garry’s Mod. The Half-Life 2 modification gone commercial game. Admittedly it’s like making a fight between a 4-year-old girl and a large bear but it’s the only thing I could think of.

    Garry’s Mod’s content model is much more tied to most multiplayer FPSs in that the only content allowed is whatever’s on the server and it’s downloaded before you actually connect. Nothing streams. In some cases this means waiting hours for all the custom model packs to download, but it’s worth it. Of course you don’t have to use public servers. You’re free to make your own server on your own box and invite other people using whatever content you install onto it. For example, there _is_ a sex script set for Garry’s Mod. But I don’t have it installed on my server – thus, no one can login to my server and yiff the hell out of my Zelda playermodel.

    While at first I bemoaned the fact that everything had to be on the server before I could use it, this actually makes sense. In Second Life you can’t control the appearance of people on the server; all you can do is ban them or kick them. You can’t ban the items they are wearing – I can’t check a box off that says no furry tails or dogcocks, and that’s what scares a lot of people away from SL is that they can’t filter that out of their land. At best they can hire people to police their island and ban anyone with their privates sticking out – but you can’t automate that, or limit the content to a specific subset.

    On OpenSim it’s kind of better since you control the server code so you could write your own plugin to ban any content not on a whitelist. Sadly that plugin doesn’t exist yet, but I can imagine if virtual worlds are going to go _anywhere_ this would have to exist. User-created content is essential to virtual worlds but at the same time it should _not_ be forced upon everyone. “Your World, Your Imagination” means nothing if furries can come into my world and yiff the furniture.

  14. Lord Kamina

    Jul 28th, 2008

    “I am amazed how people with no imagination and creativity can come up with ideas like this and then even be supported with “Chomsky’s hippy army) paranoia. Not the first time that we hear from them. Not the last as well. Who cares?”

    It’s not paranoia when the one writing the column is a Chomsky follower.


  15. Just Me

    Jul 28th, 2008

    QUOTE What do you think of when you think of Second Life?

    “Lag, virtual worlds, furries, goreans, BDSM, sex, sandbox.” UNQUOTE

    Personally, none of those things come to my mind when I think of SL .. ok maybe some lag ! . My list would be “friends, dancing, fun DJs, great live entertainers, interesting builds”

    Ok, folks, this is your chance . what would YOUR list of 6 or 7 things you think of be ?

  16. BJ Tabor

    Jul 28th, 2008

    RiverRunsRed, a company into making virtual world content, wants user created content banned. Now there is a big surprise. Talk about a blatantly self-serving statement I have got to say the most hilarious thing about Second Life is the absurdly transparent greed of the in game businesses.

  17. Jumpman Lane

    Jul 28th, 2008

    GOOGLE! Just another 3d noobe rl company gettin suckered by saps like electirc sheep and rivers run red.

  18. Netbuilder

    Jul 28th, 2008

    Reading this article brings me back to the orginal WWW build out.
    1) Open source- was has been and allways will be the fuel that powers the Internet. It is the freedom of expression that allows any one with a good idea or concept to contribute and reap the rewards of success. Its the ultimate open market where the consumer determines the value of the product.

    2) While I personally do not like the fringe. I also have to acknowlege that the investment dollars needed to sustain a product through development usually come from a fringe source.

    Lastly try to remember that while today google is a 800 lb gorilla . Yesterday it was Yahoo, Excite , Lycos and tommorrow maybey you .

  19. Alazarin

    Jul 28th, 2008

    Well, RRR would say that, wouldn’t they? If the like of RRR had their way right from the start we’d have had no Aimee Webers, Starax Statoskys, Lumiere Noirs, Plastic Ducks or any of the countless other creative geniuses who came out of nowhere to make SL what it is. RRR point at the sludge that came in riding on the coattails or greatness. What RRR, ESC and their ilk forget is that without the trailblazers who kicked open the doors by showing the possibilities they would never have bothered colonising SL with their corporate arrogance.

    In that sense RRR is no better that your average low-life adfarmer. What do they offer the residents of SL that any number of the residents can’t do better and cheaper, to boot?

  20. Moonflake

    Jul 29th, 2008

    Alazarin, you really need to read up on your history. RRR pre-date all of those people, in fact RRR have showcased and still work with some of those people you mentioned – some of ‘those’ people are actually part of RRR. They also sponsored and helped make the SLCC happen for over three years. I have personally had the pleasure of meeting part of their team at these events, they’re a great bunch of people dedicated to what they do and what we do.

    Second Life has changed, the brands have come and gone. fact. Second Life is a user generated environment. The sad thing is the quote used in this blog seems to be out of context, the original article is specifically addressing the concerns of brands and the ‘adult’ environment. This is why Lively appears to have done that they have done.

    There is no doubt that the extreme elements of Second Life have damaged us all. There is also no doubt that this minority is also not representative of the overall community. The real sad thing is that blogs like SLH have given these groups/people a forum of exposure – sad.

    Also, it’s not just RRR, even Mitch Kapor is discussing the change in virtual worlds. Change is coming, it won’t though effect my enjoyment of creating in Second Life.

    As for ‘biting the hand that fed them’ you need to see their website, they’re the only developers from the original ‘big three’ still working and developing on the Second Life platform. disclaimer: I do occasional work for them on a freelance basis, they are also the only people I have worked for who pay on time!

  21. Lucy T.

    Jul 29th, 2008

    What impressed Toqueville the most was that American democracy actually worked. He wrote, “America demonstrates invincibly one thing that I had doubted up to now: that the middle classes can govern a State. … Despite their small passions, their incomplete education, their vulgar habits, they can obviously provide a practical sort of intelligence and that turns out to be enough.”

  22. IntLibber Brautigan

    Jul 29th, 2008

    LOL at RRR. User content is what makes SL the Geocities of the metaverse. Sure 50% of it looks like a trailer park, 40% is nonstop tropical islands with the same bamboo houses, 5% is sims built at a high price by people like RRR for big companies and universities whose sims remain empty of traffic because RRR & Co are unable to get through the numbskulls at corporate marketing. Then in the last few percent you find the truly fun content that is popular and original. These are the sims by Light Waves, the live event venues, the stock exchanges, the Woodbury University…. places that are not just creative but inspire creativity.

    SL reflects reality, and yes, in reality, only a small percent of the population is creative, truly original. The rest of the population adopts what others create and makes it their own. So what? Its their right, get off your arrogant high horse. So long as it makes people happy, its none of your business.

  23. Anony-Furry

    Jul 31st, 2008

    Wow, I find it surprising so many people have something against furries, and think they are all macro-herm-sex fiends. In case you didn’t notice, Lively has furries too, or didn’t you watch their promotional video? It’s true, Lively furries don’t have all the “trappings” you mentioned, but most of the ones I know on SL (including myself) don’t have them. It’s just fun RPing a character like one might RP an alien, an elf, or a club owner. It’s a different aspect of creativity that can be fun and enjoyable, and if someone decides to do something behind closed doors doesn’t mean I have to jam open the doors and look, or go where they do that stuff. If you think furries have the sex market on SL bought and paid for, I think you need to redo your statistics. I’ve seen people come up with amazingly good and entertaining avatars. I’ve seen people make terrible ones, and then make great ones down the road as they learn how to improve their building skills. Next thing you know they’re making bank off of selling their wares. Come on, really, get an imagination.

    I don’t think Lively will be able to replace SL as it is now. It might get people who know nothing about virtual worlds and don’t realize there’s something better out there, but anyone who does searching will probably end up with SL or at least one of its better competitors.

  24. Dont care, so stop wasting energy.

    Aug 1st, 2008

    Newsflash to all of those obsessed with ‘weird’ fetishes:

    Despite all your fussing about goreans, furries, and whatnot…

    No-one really gives a damn.

    If even 10% of the outside world would give a damn, we’d read about the weirdness you obsess over in the newspapers daily. But, we dont. The only places you read about this shit is right here, and one or two other blogs.

    Life. Get one, like the rest of us.

  25. Lewis Nerd

    Aug 2nd, 2008

    Oh dear… is business really that bad for Rivers Run Red that they want to restrict the whole damn point of Second Life – the ability to create your own world – to just their big building company, and tolerate the 2 or 3 other ‘big players’ in the content creation industry?

    The virtual world is plenty big enough for everyone, you can make your big multi island builds, and leave the rest of SL to other talented, but smaller, builders like me, and those who build for fun.

    I build because I enjoy it. I did a little job for someone this week that paid me L$2500 for about 5 hours work. Yep, barely minimum wage for ONE hour … but it was fun. My SL life doesn’t revolve around profit, deadlines, cost/benefit analysis and targets.

    You guys have enough of a monopoly as it is when it comes to exposure – doesn’t make you any better a set of builders, in all honesty. Always makes me chuckle how you ‘explain away’ the failure of a project as ‘it was only meant to run for a limited period anyway’.

    Here’s an idea for you … if you don’t like what the rest of us create, if it’s somehow not up to your standards … then why don’t you stop building, rather than telling everyone else to?

  26. Anon indie developer

    Nov 11th, 2009

    Justin Bovington is a fucking retard. He’s independently wealthy, so he doesn’t have to worry about trivial things like, “Making actual profit” – he can piss around in SL and claim it’s brilliant all he wants without worrying about it not paying the rent. Justin has burned bridges with dozens of professional developers in Second Life, and he’s a sleazeball that, if you’ve met once, you’ll realize he’s either a cokehead or severely bipolar. Hey Justin WHERE THE FUCK IS DURAN DURAN, HUH!? You got all your damn publicity – you milked that for a YEAR and led on fans and then nothing. No apology. Your builds have sucked ass, and you’re an arrogant fuck. Do us all a favor and go into some other industry, because you’ve sucked fame for yourself from this one and given back NOTHING!

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