Monday, November 9, 2009

you never really tried, or so it seems

I find myself reflecting back on that tale of game developers wanting to authorize only 'real' women (however they planned to do that) to play in their games. I'm wondering if this had anything to do with their reasoning. By (wholly unconfirmed, entirely) report, SL has always had about 45% of males playing as females, for a variety of reasons. Intersexuality to genuine prurient curiosity, it's always been a factor of any online game, Second Life included.

It does make me giggle, though. I have friends who play City of Heroes--they say it's just that easy to change costumes now. If you could also swap genders with as much ease...well, there'd be far more virtual girls in the world, lemme tell you.

McCabe Masted is none too confident about Linden Labs' new third-party viewer policy. Neither am I. Because it's starting to sound very much like the Ursula-then-Zindra policy. In short: "Hi. We have no idea how to set up adult provisions for our program. Frankly, we've never bothered to worry about it before. But now people are complaining, and we can't have that, so we're just going to make everyone move. And we know everyone will move, and there will be no further issues, because if we were in this situation...well, if we were in this situation, we wouldn't be having pixel sex, what is wrong with you people? Honestly, you need hobbies. Or you need to script things. Because scripting is more fun than sex, trust us."

Okay, maybe it's not exactly like that, but seriously--six months after Zindra surfaced from the virtual waters, there are people in compliance with the policy, who got Zindra land, put up new shops, uprooted everything...and have 40 to 70% loss of profit to show for it. Yay, Lindens, damaging the world economy. Way to go.

Others have decided their best option is to go back to the mainland, where their X-rated content was previously banned, and put back up their stores--if not their ads--because no one is willing to stop them--not their neighbors, not their fellow Zindrans, and certainly not the Lindens.

I can't see it happening any other way with third-party viewers. Because a few people are panicking, they're likely going to ban all third-party viewers from the grid, or at least--as Mr. Masted said--make it so inordinately difficult for third-party coders to get licensing permission, that most of them will likely give up. Not the least of which will bring us a new wave of cracking programs, because having once tasted the ease to download that a hack viewer gives, you think any of them are going to give up? I highly doubt it.

I did a little digging and found the October 21st entry on Massively on the topic, including a comment sent to third-party developers on encrypted chat--something that Emerald, a compliant viewer, is notable for adding--being against Linden Labs' Terms of Service.

Since when?

From the Massively article:

"When our revised policy goes into effect, any viewer containing functionality that can be used to impede our efforts to manage Second Life will not be tolerated," says the Lab.

And what, precisely, does that mean? For third-party viewers...for IP and content rights...for residents? Bad things happen, then banning, then the world recovers...or tries to? This seems to be how the Lindens handle things. There doesn't seem to be a lot of room between 'functional' and 'gone' in Linden terms.

Considering the explosion of content theft across the grid...the absolute inundation of content theft on XStreetSL, after the Lindens bought them out...I'm not entirely convinced it's not all somehow...being pushed forward. If not a direct conspiracy by Linden Labs--and yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds...then somehow...influence, being offered, or oversight being withdrawn. Do the Lindens really want to tackle the problem of copyright infringement head-on?

Or do they want to handle it as they've handled every other great conflict they've been handed? If they ban all user-created content...then there is no copyright infringement going on, right?

Save for Philip Linden's t-shirt. But hey, I guess he gets a pass.


Bendoverann Stoop said...

Would it surprise me to see LL end up banning or prohibiting part of Emerald? No. More likely, they'll suck in parts of Emerald into the standard viewer, then deleting what they don't like (bouncing boobies?? heaven forbid!! 2 people might complain in the mainland! Encypted chat? We can't control that!!)
We keep waiting for Zindra to pick up business, but patience only goes so far. It won't pick up. Okay, LL loses income, but it's minor considering they make a lot more from IBM and other major companies using SL as a platform for interactive business.
What? The adult content residents are losing money? Well by all means! Script! It's EVER so much more fun than sex! And watch what you build - it might have content in it that someone can steal. Or violate the TOS that changes every time someone in the mainland complains.

Emilly Orr said...

The problem I'm facing is that it's very hard not to be paranoid in such an environment. If LL had deliberately set out to do things badly, it couldn't have been worse--the uprooting; the lack of communication regarding parcel claiming; the seeming openness about discussing with the community upcoming changes to policy, that in the end, became tons of people complaining, with the Lindens very obviously not listening...

And yes, it seems to me that if that's what's really going on, they've set out on a path which will leave us, eventually, with no adult content, no user content, and the entire platform rigged for business/educational/commercial use alone.

I really hope I'm wrong on this one. But again--if their end goal is to have the makers of content quit in frustration (whether they're makers of adult content, or general content), they're doing a damned good job so far.