by Alphaville Herald on 01/10/11 at 3:42 am
by Senban Babii - apologist for criminals and a notorious one
In recent days, the SL profile of Rodvik Linden has been under attack by a well known griefer (according to the leaked JLU wiki) who has been conducting a low tech denial of service attack by filling Rodvik Linden's wall with spam about British Lefties, fellow travellers and explaining how robots all tend towards criminality and so disrupting any valid informed debate.
However, even in these dark hours we can find interesting points to discuss.
One of the points raised was about the ability to create a sim where livestock could be raised in peace and where friends could come visit. I'm sure the readers will agree this sounds idyllic. But is such a thing possible?
Let's take chickens, the actual living variety.
They need feeding, they need protecting from problems such as foxes. It's fairly obvious that if we allow our chickens to roam freely in a field, sooner or later foxes will begin attacking them. It's not that the fox is evil, it's just being a fox. So what can we do about protecting the chickens? Because ultimately if we keep chickens we have to protect them from the foxes and that means creating some kind of enclosure or similar. This is the reality faced by chicken farmers every day, so why would it be different in a virtual reality?
To expect virtual reality to work differently to meat reality is a flawed expectation.
Both realities are, in effect, multi-user shared environments and that means that many aspects are outside of our control, just like those foxes. We might find it frustrating that all other users don't conform to our expectations but that's the peril of working in those shared environments. It's also what keeps them interesting from both etic and emic perspectives.
We might find it frustrating that the system we need to jump into in EVE is being gatecamped by a Loki or we might find it frustrating that someone's air support Harrier is making it impossible for us to move from cover in a game of Modern Warfare 2, but these perils are what force us to adopt new strategies and new ways of negotiating with the world around us.
If we want to create an environment where we have absolute control, the only real option is to sign up for Facebook and start using Farmville, in effect a single player environment. Then you can raise chickens in complete peace, only inviting exactly who you want to see your farm.
In such an application, we're no longer in a shared environment and all we can do is show it to other people, they can't interact with it in any meaningful way. In effect you have created a one-person state where you dictate all politics, morals, religion, ethics and freedoms of expression.
But if you decide to create your chicken farm in a multi-user shared environment then you have to accept that - just like in the meat world - other people have their own politics, morals, religion, ethics and ideas on what freedom entails and their choices may ot always coincide with your own. However, isn't that part of what makes shared environments so interesting?
If we choose - and it is a choice - to spend time in shared environments then we have to accept both the benefits and the perils that come with that choice. We can't try and enforce our own ideologies, although we can try to persuade others that our ideologies are good through informed and educated debate. And we have to accept that there will always be foxes. If we're going to go round shooting the foxes in an attempt to protect our chickens, maybe we should reassess whether we're actually best served by working in a multi-user shared environment or whether we'd be better off working in Farmville.