June 4th, 2007

Wow, talk about walking a fine line… The headline of Linden Lab‘s official (and rightfully controversial) statement on the line between personal expression and virtual no-no, posted this past Thursday on their site, reads “Keeping Second Life Safe, Together.” In it, perhaps in response to incidents like the ones we’ve discussed here, the makers of the game write:

“The diversity of things to see and do within Second Life is almost unimaginable, but our community has made it clear to us that certain types of content and activity are simply not acceptable in any form. Real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depiction of sexual or lewd acts involving or appearing to involve children or minors; real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depictions of sexual violence including rape, real-life images, avatar portrayals, and other depictions of extreme or graphic violence, and other broadly offensive content are never allowed or tolerated within Second Life.”

If you couldn’t tell, the bold bits are the parts that made me go, “Come again?” Okay, we’ve talked about the issues of “virtual” child pornography and age play, and just how tricky that can be. But what about this new clause about no sexual violence? Excuse me, but there’s a huge BDSM community within Second Life, not to mention the Goreans. Then there’s this bit tacked onto the end, “any other broadly offensive content.” Terrifyingly enough, it sounds like anything and everything is potentially up for scrutiny…

Tags: BDSM, children, cybersex, fetishes, MMOs, rape, safety

4 Responses to “Linden Takes a Stand on SL Taboos”

  1. Leigh Says:

    I’m sure this is just my impression, because all I know of SL is media coverage since I don’t play– but it seems to me that if all of that stuff was patently banned (“broadly offensive content”? What the F?), Linden’d lose half of SLers.

    This type of issue is just gonna get bigger and bigger. This interface allows people to actually project and visualize their imaginations– and how the hell can you legislate that?

    Seems better to make some kind of filter– people who are offended by certain things can elect not to be able to view or interact with them while in SL. People with no filters on can walk across a field full of children having sex with horses or whatever, and those with a filter just see an empty field.

  2. Leigh Says:

    Oh, yeah– and this sort of talk has the ring of lip service, too. I can’t imagine that the type of person to loudly complain about being offended by vague digital ideals is the kind of person actually too prevalent on Second Life– aren’t those people, like… busy driving their kids to soccer or something, instead of being even computer-literate?

  3. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Ren from Terra Nova brought up another good point, one I hadn’t thought about, which is that it’s possible that the whole thing is just done for PR, and Linden themselves (even if they never say it) totally feel opposite… Who knows…

  4. Linda Zhao Says:

    First the came for the ageplayers and I said nothing because I was not an ageplayer. Then they came for the BDSM players and I said nothing because I was not a BDSM player. Then they came for the Goreans and I said nothing because I was not a Gorean. Then they came for the casino operators and I said nothing because I was not a casino operator. Then they came for me and their was no one left to speak for me.

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