Sunday, March 22, 2009

A brief essay on proposed changes to classify SL Sims

Linden Labs has unveiled a new classification system for sims that seems destined to change life for SL netizens. In short, the change requires sexually oriented sims be designated adult content, forced to relocate to a red light district of the mainland, and access will be denied to unverified SL accounts.

The reason LL puts forth for this change seems a bit spurious. They make it sound as though there have been complaints from some residents that it is too easy to be exposed to sexually related material while casually exploring SL. LL's loose standards used to verify resident age seems partly to blame. Relocation of adult sites to the mainland following the restructuring of land pricing also appears to be a contributing factor, because adult sites were interspersed with others.

Now it has never been denied that much SL content is sexually oriented. There are many who would even argue that sex built SL. While the BDSM newsletter has not conducted any formal, scientific polls, sex appears to be on the mind of most of the residents this reporter has encountered, at least, both in and outside of the BDSM Life sim. This policy change ultimately seem bad for business; any reduction in the number of residents granted access to adult sims seems likely to result in a similar loss of revenue, not only to sim owners, but to LL as well.

This apparent contradiction to common business sense has many speculating about a hidden agenda. Could a possible merger of the Teen Grid with SL be driving the need to ensure children are not exposed to what has, until now, been assumed to be a purely adult environment? Or is SL being cleaned up so it can be sold? Whatever the case, LL is making it apparent that our shared virtual reality is ultimately a business venture and not the social experiment we have been led to believe was intended.

Details are sketchy at the moment, in part because LL is waiting 6 weeks before implementing changes so that residents can ostenisbly weigh in. There seems little confidence any change can be affected however residents respond - LL is not known for considering residents' opinions even now.