by Pixeleen Mistral on 26/09/12 at 1:47 am
JLU gang leader claims responsibility - thanks Michael Linden for swinging banhammer
Monday, Linden Lab suddenly deleted the Sandvich sim, a popular Steam-themed region in Second Life which inspired a chaotic YouTube video tribute. The Lab's action sparked a round of protests as banned players were stripped of their virtual assets - without any sort of due process - and took their complaints to teh Interwebs' court of public opinion with a post at the Reddit.com web site titled "R.I.P. Steam/Reddit Second Life theme park. Linden Lab banned it".
The post reached #16 - leveling up to the front page of Reddit - and has received over 750 comments as of this writing. This may be more than just another tempest in a sandbox world. Reddit.com is currently ranked as the 66th most popular web site in the US and 137th worldwide, while Second Life's appeal has become much more selective in recent years - a problem widely attributed to exorbitant virtual land prices, bait and switch business tactics, and a history of questionable game governance.
The situation is so dire that even hardcore fanbois are now running thought experiments on a player buyout of Second Life.
Hoping to reverse - or perhaps delay - Second Life's decline, Linden Lab recently announced that Second Life will be listed in the popular Steam game portal with the promise of exposing the game to a larger audience. This news inspired a group of Second Life players to re-purpose a Reddit themed region that ex-Linden Lab staffer Hamlet Au has been hyping for months into a Steam-themed sim in hopes that this might grow their community as Steam players began exploring Second Life.
However, in the meta-gaming faction wars of Second Life, growing your community can be seen as an existential threat to other groups - or even the game itself. Oh noes! Could it be that a long standing feud between The Justice League Unlimited and the Soviet Woodbury/Wrong Hands/PN factions led to Linden Lab's removal of Sandvich sim? It seems so.
According to what appears to be a screen capture of a Proactive Security group notice, JLU gang leader Kalel Venkman is claiming responsibility for identifying a "Woodbury/PN enclave". Mr. Venkman - who appears in Second Life in the form of a Superman avatar - was gracious enough to thank Michael Linden for his part in the Sandvich smackdown. It is good to see that Lab staff seem willing to take sides in the in-world faction wars -- this will certainly inspire more players to spend $295/month renting server space. What could possibly go wrong?
However, despite the confidence that a superman-of-steel avatar with a weakness for frivolous DMCA complaints inspires, I do have a few questions. Did Venkman ever consider what sort of publicity he would garner for Second Life? With friends like Venkman, who needs enemies?
Michael Linden's involvement in the Sandvich destruction also raises questions. Michael was most recently sighted working on the
road crew Linden Department of Public Works and not believed to be involved in Second Life governance. Perhaps he made an exception this one time - but why?
More to the point, mixed signals from the game gods were evident as certain Linden Lab staff including Tommy Linden had been sighted at Sandvich sim socializing with the sim owners and builders. It appears that Tommy Linden enjoyed his visit so much that he posted a picture to his my.secondlife.com profile at one point - then suddenly removed it. But the evidence lives on on in the Google cache. Is it any wonder that the Sandvich residents were caught off guard? In the hall of mirrors that is teh interwebs, who can you really trust?