by Pixeleen Mistral on 11/04/10 at 6:59 pm
Over at at Henry Jenkins blog and MIT’s Center for Future Civic Media site, part one of Herald founder Urizenus Sklar’s think piece Watching the Watchers: Power and Politics in Second Life traces the evolution of both the online world griefing phenomena and the virtual security operations that have emerged to counter griefers.
Posting the piece while the Herald yacht put in to port to stock up on blood oranges and Cristal – none of that Moët crap here at the Herald – Urizenus chose to use his real life identity (Peter Ludlow of Northwestern University) to discuss similar patterns of emergent behavior across game worlds including The Sims Online, Habbo Hotel, and Second Life.
Particularly interesting are the parallels between the Sims Shadow Government paramilitary of TSO Second Life’s Justice League Unlimited. Both groups maintained close contacts with employees of the game company, and utilized those relationships in filing abuse reports against other players. But as Ludlow points out, the game soon turned ugly as the would-be cops go unchecked.
"What perhaps began as a fun exercise in roleplay soon began to go awry. Overzealous Justice League members began abuse reporting heavily, and also began picking fights with unlikely groups within Second Life. For example, the Justice League was banned from Furnation (an area inside Second Life dedicated to players that like to don anthropomorphized animal costumes), because of their excessive vigilantism".
In time, the vigilantes become paranoid and nearly everyone appears to be a griefer.
"It wasn’t just their competitors that were marked as griefers; the Alphaville Herald, which had been reporting on griefers in virtual worlds since 2003, was a griefer media organ in Kalels eyes. The Herald’s editor, an avatar Pixeleen Mistral was therefore also a griefer. Kalel came to falsely believe that Pixeleen was identical with me, and so I must be a griefer too. There were griefers everywhere, it seemed".
Look for this must-read series to continue soon – Cristal and blood oranges never last long on the Herald yacht and the catering staff is already preparing to replenish the galley while Uri uploads part 2 of the series.