by Pixeleen Mistral on 30/09/12 at 12:14 am
Exclusive interview and pictures from Fort Longcat
Early this week, Linden Lab destroyed the Sandvich region of Second Life and banned Sandvich land owner Sarilia Tryce and associates from the game, presumably in response to the Justice League Unlimited gang's favorite tactics: abuse report frenzy. The JLU and their allies were spurred into action as news spread of a terrifying situation at high altitude in Sandvich: a recreation of Fort Longcat - a virtual museum of PN, Soviet Woodbury, 4Chan /b/tard memes. Shock!!! Horrors!!!
For the JLU, this sort of enemy sighting instantly leads to an unthinking knee jerk reaction - kill it with fire - regardless of the consequences. So while the Sandvich nuke job was initially hailed by JLU partisans, gradually the realization dawned that seizing property without compensation or explanation could lead to unfavorable publicity. Strangely, some believe property rights should extend to all.
Had the anti-griefers been trolled into damaging their beloved Lab's reputation by the notorious perma-banned Tizzers Foxchase and friends? Did the Woodbury/Wrong Hands/PN faction set up a win-win situation by promoting Second Life with a Steam-themed sim which could attract more players to their community - or embarrass the Lab if the ban hammer fell?
Ms. Foxchase has now experienced 4 rounds of mass bans and sim deletions, so the end game for any visit to Rod Humble's platform for user-generated
spooge palaces creativity is clear - but what are the motivations?
I was able to explore some of these questions shortly after Sandvich fell off the world map in an exclusive interview with Ms. Foxchase as I looked over some pictures I had taken on a visit to the Sandvich sim fort Longcat re-creation a few weeks ago.
While there were certainly portions of Fort Longcat that seem designed to offend - the room of flapping penises might not be the best advertisement for Second Life - I wonder if more traditional and well established top 20 SL attractions such as Bukkake Bliss Island will impress Linden Lab's new target market: Stream players. Why isn't the JLU working to improve SL's image where it really counts?
As we discussed game governance, Tizzers told me her alt account Hissyfits Resident when deleted had $600 USD worth of mesh clothes - a sobering thought for any fashionista - but comforting to those who enjoy the long running Second Life meta-game: Authoritarian Kleptocracy.
You may wonder why Authoritarian Kleptocracy seems to be Linden Lab's favored form of governance, but it does make a certain amount of sense to those unconcerned with the rule-of-law and moving beyond a feudal society. Fear and intimidation -- do you really want to lose your virtual clothes? -- may well cut the costs of sandbox game governance, but at the cost of increased player cynicism and pointed questions about LL's new ventures.
Where will Rod Humble draw the line? Now that the Lab has released knock-off copies of Crayons Physics Deluxe and Minecraft, should we fear for our 2D-physics enabled iPad finger paintings and triangle-based constructions? With these thoughts in mind, I fired up my new Apple iMojoWire 5 for a chat with Tizzers.
Pixeleen Mistral: Ever since Linden Lab announced two new games - Createoverse and Patterns - I've been wondering about game gods' plan to handle governance across the product line. If you are banned in SL are you also banned in their other games? What if someone makes a naughty looking thing in Createoverse - will there be an adult Createoverse?
Tizzers Foxchase: And the question beyond that is, if SL uses Steamcloud, will SL bans affect Steam accounts?
Pixeleen Mistral: getting back to the Sandvich situation, should we assume that Soft Linden is taking the virtual law into his own hands here - or was this a ban that went through normal channels?
Tizzers Foxchase: Generally mass wipes and sim nukes aren't done through normal channels.
This email is notification that Linden Lab has terminated your access to the Second Life virtual world due to severe or repeated violations of the Second Life Terms of Service or Community Standards which broadly interfere with or disrupt the Second Life community. Your account has been permanently disabled. Depending on the nature of the recorded violations, additional alternate or household accounts may also have been disabled.
The decision to terminate your Second Life access was reached after investigating your use of the Second Life software and service. If you would like to appeal your termination, you may contact Second Life Support, by creating a support ticket type of "Abuse Appeal" on support.second life.com.
Pixeleen Mistral: I think you guys are clearly the record holders for sim-smackdowns
Tizzers Foxchase: for the record, I have about 600 USD worth of purchases on Hissyfits Resident, just buying *stuff*. Like crap loads of mesh clothes. lol
Pixeleen Mistral: has this setback discouraged you from playing Second Life? or do you plan to return?
Tizzers Foxchase: Being censored by Linden Lab has never discouraged us from returning to the grid. Despite the shortcomings of the company running it, many of us still enjoy the game with the hopes that one day somebody will build a better SL sans Linden Lab.
Pixeleen Mistral: so why do you think Linden Lab continues to use what are apparently ineffective measures to "protect" their game from this sort of meta-gaming and rouge narrative?
This is the 4th time your faction has been banned and had your sims nuked - Linden Lab does not seem to be employing effective counter-measures
Tizzers Foxchase: I think there remains a handful of vocal residents and Linden employees that continue to harbor grudges from the past. Despite the fact that our group stays to itself, the fact that we exist shatters their world. I imagine these people flood Linden Lab with correspondence until something is done.
Pixeleen Mistral: should Second Life players expect your faction to return?
Tizzers Foxchase: You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.
Pixeleen Mistral: i c
Was the owner of the land that Linden Lab confiscated today compensated for the loss of his property?
Tizzers Foxchase: There was never any compensation for the purchase of the sim. As in typical Linden Lab fashion, we've received the creepy silent treatment.
Pixeleen Mistral: Would you advise others to play Second Life? You seem to be willing to play for fairly high stakes but what about someone who is just getting started?
Tizzers Foxchase: Professionalism and customer service aren't strong points at Linden Lab. It's a very political company with many different conflicting opinions and visions internally. This is really brought to light by the GlassDoor reviews by former employees. http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Linden-Lab-Reviews-E100549.htm
Pixeleen Mistral: But you continue to play - despite the odds - why?
Tizzers Foxchase: Unfortunately Second Life remains the only "game in town" at least in terms of collaborative virtual world spaces. Being able to contiguously co-exist with thousands of other people simultaneously is a really cool thing. I get a lot of satisfaction from watching people genuinely enjoy the communities that we create.
Pixeleen Mistral: and you have also created an infrastructure outside SL that allows your group to survive these periodic mass bans
Tizzers Foxchase: Skype has been invaluable in that regard. It has essentially become my SL friends list and many of us have been in 24/7 chats dating back several years. Getting banned is just a minor hiccup because we rarely need our in-world friends list or chat ability.
Pixeleen Mistral: So there is really very little Linden Lab can do to discourage your faction - do you think there will ever be some sort of peaceful coexistence?
Tizzers Foxchase: I think by now Linden realizes that these bans are mostly token PR statements showing good faith on their part, rather than effective measures to rid the grid of who they consider persona non grata.
Pixeleen Mistral: that seems like a realistic appraisal of the situation
Tizzers Foxchase: Most of us are in favor of peaceful coexistence. The core group rarely left the Sandvich sim.
Pixeleen Mistral: perhaps some of your critics will attempt to attract and retain Steam players
We can hope that the Justice League Unlimited and Ravenglass Rentals will pick up the slack - or maybe not. Do you think that the JLU and Ravenglass Rentals will attract more paying players than Sandvich would have?
Tizzers Foxchase: When Sarilia and I discovered that Second Life was going to be listed on Valve's Steam platform, we knew that was a demographic of gamers that would fit in well with ours. Sandvich was created to be a familiar place for these people. This idea was reinforced when photos of the sim reached the front page of Reddit's r/gaming with over 1800 upvotes. I'm not sure I could say the same about Ravenglass Rentals.
Pixeleen Mistral: we can only hope the game gods know best. Is there anything else you would like to tell the Herald readers? what have I missed?
Tizzers Foxchase: Second Life is a stepping stone in the history of virtual worlds. The best thing we could do is learn what not to do, and apply that in future competing products. In the meantime, rock fresh.