[iDC] Virtual terror strikes Second Life

Ricardo Dominguez rdom at thing.net
Sun Feb 25 23:00:06 EST 2007

Virtual terror strikes Second Life

by Glenn Chapman Sat Feb 24, 11:54 AM ET

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - In an explosive display, virtual-world banes now mirror
the havoc of the real one as terrorists have launched a bombing campaign in
Second Life.

People controlling animated avatar members of a self-proclaimed Second Life
Liberation Army (SLLA) have set off computer-code versions of atomic bombs at
virtual world stores in the past six months -- with their own manifesto.

The SLLA claims to be an "in-world military wing of a national liberation
movement" devoted to replacing the rule of Second Life creator Linden Labs with
a democracy representing the nearly four million residents.

"As Linden Labs is functioning as an authoritarian government the only
appropriate response is to fight," the SLLA said in a message on its website at

"When the SLLA succeeds in its aims it will disband and hand power back to the
political wing of the movement."

Creative dissent is welcomed in Second Life as long as it doesn't interfere with
the ability of other residents to enjoy the virtual world, according to San
Francisco-based Linden.

Second Life said it stopped charging a tax on items created by residents after
avatars fashioned in the images of American revolutionaries recreated the
Boston Tea Party in the virtual world about three years ago.

Since then, website users adept at manipulating computer codes have engineered
mischief including a "push gun" that blasted other avatars back when fired,
according to Linden.

"We do the utmost to ensure the protection of creative expression, within
certain bounds," Linden marketing director Catherine Smith told AFP on Friday.

"Ultimately, instances in which residents engage in simulated violence will have
to be taken on a case-by-case basis."

The virtual bomb blasts in Second Life explode in hazy white balls, blotting out
portions of a screen and battering nearby avatars, animated figures that are
residents' proxies in the virtual world.

The disruptions are brief and do not cause lasting damage in Second Life,
according to Linden.

Residents are given free rein in Second Life, as long as they don't harass or
interfere with other avatars in what is referred to in-world as "griefing."

SLLA bombings have been viewed by Linden as "mock terrorism" done in fun to
catalyze debate about the in-world power structure.

"We believe recent events involving SLLA protest lack malicious intent," Smith
said. "Resident reaction to such attacks has been decidedly tongue-in-cheek."

The SLLA website demands that Linden give Second Life residents "basic rights"
by going public and allowing each avatar to buy a share of stock at a set

In instances where residents feel harassed by the SLLA, Linden will dole out
temporary banishment or other such penalties as outlined in the virtual world's
written terms of service, according to Smith.

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