Multiplayer only on my terms?

Second Life recently saw the birth of a strange lifeform. A green cube called ‘Zombie’. This cube, when touched, multiplied, and as it did so it would move towards and hunt down players. If a player had a reasonably high velocity gun they could shoot these cubes and overcome the evil zombie menace.

The brain behind this amusing Halloween stunt was Lordfly Digeridoo, an experiences and creative Second Life member. However, having released his multiplying zombies into the wild of Second Life they took on a life of their own and became quite hard to remove, each deletion often spawning another zombie. This combined with a general lack of awareness of what these things were about resulted in many negative ratings and abuse reports for poor old Lordfly!

A few days later he is still racing around deleting Zombies and apologizing. Yet for some this isn’t enough.

While the idea was grand we can probably all agree the implementation was a bit off. Having the zombies wild in the large world meant a lot of confusion for people who hadn’t read Lordfly’s posts and clues on the boards and, well, some people are just plain touchy.

But what I don’t understand is how he has gathered such broad negative reaction. Second Life is by its very nature a creative medium and one where a lot can go wrong, simply because of the freedoms we are given. Why are people so touchy over virtual content that is virtually meaningless? I love the idea of this code gone native and out of control, I think it’s fun and interesting on many levels, yet some people just get upset if someone in any way interacts with them on a level they don’t agree with.

Perhaps this is a legacy of the internet generation. With everything at our fingertips and on demand we no longer have to watch, listen or deal with anything we don’t like. A closed window, a deleted email and the problem is solved. That people are so quick to judge and complain I find somewhat disturbing. What does it mean for the future if this is the kind of behavior seen in your friends, your neighbor’s, your family. Real world society could see people in neighborhoods even more isolated and alone than they are already, only seeking solace in social internet experiences they can tightly control. But Second Life isn’t an extension of the internet, perhaps it is, strangely, more like real life, with its mix of the uncontrollable, the strange and the downright annoying. Hopefully it will always be a slightly chaotic convergence of wild ideas, optimism, creativity and sometimes, zombies.

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