Second Life: gangs, theft and goo.

Second Life: gangs, theft and goo.

Summary: With a growing crime problem, how long before Second Life resorts to mob rule?


According to Business Week, Second Life has a crime problem. First there was the CopyBot saga (theft); then a worm which spread 'grey goo' throughout the virtual world, bringing the game's servers to a standstill (vandalism); and now it seems 'gangs' are forcing members out of public places (anti-social behavior):

It would seem the virtual world is facing a very real-world problem: crime. As more people have joined the global virtual community—it now boasts more than 1 million members—residents are grappling with how to secure property ownership and ensure public well-being.

However, Linden Lab (the game's creators) are reluctant to act like a real-world law enforcer, and instead hopes that the community will develop its own "local authorities" to deal with issues such as copyright and property ownership. Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale is reported as saying that residents have already set up 'Better Business Bureau-style associations to weed out bad players and that 'Linden Lab may also encourage the publication of blacklists of known copiers'.

This of course raises the thorny issue of accountability:

Yet the notion of grassroots justice in a virtual world raises a host of serious questions: On what authority would they act? What punishments can they mete out? And to whom would they be accountable? For example, if a shopkeeper is erroneously blacklisted, can he or she hold anyone responsible for lost sales? If so, who? 

Mob rule, anybody?

Topic: Legal

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  • Get a life

    Apparently Second Life users are all noobs ;-)

    These problems have been experienced by every MMO and of course by the big ones like World of Warcraft - 8 million. I tried 2nd life, but as a WoW subscriber I'm spoilt by great game play, great art an extremely well designed games system and Blizzard support. Frankly 2nd life was lame. If I am going to have a second life, I'd at least like it to be exciting ;-)

    As to enforcement - same as in any MMO. You report suspicious behaviour to the admin staff and after investigation they ban the account. Oh and you also have to have a watertight End-User Licence Agreement. Only a few months ago, blizzard removed thousands of accounts for all sorts of bad behaviour.
  • It's Linden Labs virtual world and their ToS.

    So if they transfer jurisdiction to the players either expressly or otherwise, then that's where the players get their authority. Maybe LL has a good deal of faith in their players, or maybe they deleted torches and pitchforks from the database.
    We'll just have to wait and see.
  • Damages are damages ...

    If a player can prove to a court that they were damaged though the the negligence of the game creator, the game creator is on the hook for those damages. No matter what.

    A player who agrees to the terms of play (the EULA, if you like), may play at their own risk but if those terms are changed by the game's creators in mid-play and, as a result, a player was 'damaged' (in any meaningful way) it seems to me that the courts might just find the creator of the game responsibile -- no matter what disclaimers they might have published.
    M Wagner
  • Well sure, if LL breaks their own agreement ...

    ... then certainly they put themselves in a vulnerable position. I'm sure they'll produce a new agreement if necessary. These days you can sue someone over a cup of coffee (or less), but an agreement will make it more difficult (but doesn't really guarantee anything AFAIK). Though, I would imagine LL takes legal repercussion pretty seriously and probably has attorneys aiding their policy decisions at this point. But who really knows, maybe they handed that responsibility to the players too. ;)
  • Fight fire with fire?

    I'm sorry if I misunderstood this, but, is Linden Labs actually suggesting that the community fight gangs by being a bigger gang? Who will decide which behavior are acceptable, and which products are copies and just very similar? The 'squeeky wheel' (complains the most), the one who cries foul first, or the one with the most friends (the bigger gang)? In the real world studies have shown that a majority of people feel that if THEY don't like something, it should be illegal! That says to me that community self-rule will fail at the hands of self interest or mob mentality (one or a small group incite others, then still more follow just to be part of the crowd).

    So instead of enjoying and experiencing their virtual world, you'll spend considerable time and energy (and money Linden or US) simply defending yourself ?!?! That would seem to defeat the most apparent reason for becoming part of Second Life - escape from reality.

    Just my thought and opinions,
  • Make it more real...

    Include digital AIDS, epidemics, hunger and starvation. All real life civilizations are sculpted by their environment, why should Lamersville be any different.