Google+ Adventures of a Southern Gentleman: Linden Labs Releases New Policy on Adult Content, Rioting Ensues

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Linden Labs Releases New Policy on Adult Content, Rioting Ensues

In previous posts I mentioned the curious phenomena I like to call the Kerfuffle Syndrome, where every 3-6 months Linden Labs makes an announcement that causes the vocal portion of the Second Life Community to go crazy, and not surprisingly it’s been 3 months since the last such announcement.  

Today Linden Labs announced that changes would be coming in regards to “Adult” content (Upcoming Changes for Adult Content) and as one might expect based on past experience there was a huge negative reaction with the usual threats of leaving SL, predictions of the collapse of  Second Life, etc.   This is both amusing in it’s predictability and sad because it demonstrates an overwhelmingly negative attitude by the vocal members of a community that usually claims an above normal concern for Second Life and its future.    But the mentality of the SL community is fodder for a future blog post, perhaps, but for the present I want to offer my take on this announcement.   I’m not a Linden Lab’s employee so this is pure speculation, but I think it’s pretty reasonable.

The current world has two types of Sim rating, PG and Mature.    As one might expect, a PG Sim should only have content that would be safe for your kid to see watching over your shoulder and a Mature Sim would have stuff that’s more R rated.    Up until now, the Mature Sims were also the homes of what would be considered XXX rated material as well, the much reported upon adult entertainment aspect of Second Life that consists of strip clubs, sex clubs, BDSM, Gorean roleplay and the like.   Based on the announcement from Linden Labs, I see a 3rd land rating type coming into play, the Adult Sim, which will offer a further distinction of mature vs explicit content.   Along with this will come some method of age verification so that this new Adult Sim rating can be restricted to only known real life adults, at least from a legal standpoint.   I see this as necessary for legal protection as opposed to a realistic expectation of being able to 100% restrict this content to adults, there’s always a way for an enterprising young person to work around restrictions.   This is about due diligence.  

This also will afford those adults who aren’t interested in the Adult aspects of Second Life the ability to keep out of areas so marked.   This will be especially important to those in Second Life from the educational community or the business community where their Second lives are more job related and they need to be circumspect about where they are seen in SL.   Some people see this as a prelude to merging the Teen Second Life Grid with the Main Grid, and that’s possible, but I think that’s only a small part of the reasons behind this, bottom line is that Linden Labs has to protect itself legally, they have to keep Second Life an inviting and safe environment to the educators, businesses and other entities who aren’t in SL running around asking every likely candidate “I can haz sex?”.

What does this mean to those people who engage in activities or run establishments that will be rated adult?   If you’re on a private island, probably nothing other than being required to change a setting on your island showing that it is an Adult rated sim.    If you’re on the mainland, then likely you’ll have to move to a sim with an Adult rating.   How Linden Labs handles this move will be critical, one would hope that they’d do a clean swap of land giving the person moving a comparable amount of land on new Adult rated sims and putting the swapped land on the Mature sim up for auction as they would abandoned land.

I think the only real critical issue here, and one that needs the most clarification, is what the criteria is that rates something as Adult vs Mature.    Some stuff is obvious, sex clubs, strip clubs, BDSM clubs aren’t difficult to classify, but there are some that sit on the edge.   For example, would an art gallery that displayed tasteful nudes be considered Mature or Adult?   My vote would be for a Mature rating and I suspect that Linden Labs will agree with that assessment.   Does everyone need to worry about having to take down their private skyboxes and throw away their fancy beds?  I don’t believe so, not if they are for private use.   Certainly, having a dungeon with any number of kinky items sitting at ground level might be over the edge and be an issue, but what if it’s at 3000m on Mature sim?   That will probably just be open to interpretation, handled on a case by case basis by Linden Labs.

So is this going to be a big deal?   Ultimately, I don’t think so.   The small time operators of sexually explicit establishments on the mainland will be the ones impacted, certainly, but I think the numbers of those affected will be low in comparison to the majority of Second Life residents.

And honestly, I won’t miss the BDSM club that’s near my land, though so far there’s been no issue with their games occurring while I’m around.   Certainly, I don’t want them screwed by Linden Labs, I hope they get an equitable land swap to a decent area on a new Adult sim.   In fact, I hope Linden Labs takes the time to set their Moles to work landscaping and making the new Adult mainland sims into pleasant looking places so that any hard feelings about having to relocate are offset by being moved to a nice looking location.

So, what do you think?   I’d love to see comments pro or con on the subject.


freereed Freenote R.I.P said...

everything will not be fine in fact. have read thru entire secondlifecom forums on this issue...and no one has mentioned the builds... the man/woman hours entailed in building... setting up... and directing traffic... it is an enormous, time consuming hassle to relocate... i had to do it once and it took me six weeks@! if one is running a business, six weeks down time can ruin ye@!

Sougent Harrop said...

@freereed - you have a point, though I have managed to move large builds as a combined object, it would be painful to do. The larger issue is existing links and the redirection of traffic. I think Linden Labs definitely needs to consider how this move would need to take place to address your concerns. I hope you've brought them up on the forums. I'm wondering, though, since it's all just data in a database, whether it might be possible for Linden Labs to transfer an entire piece of land to a new sim. Though I suspect that's not likely to happen.

You have valid concerns that I hadn't thought of. I still believe it'll all work out, though it'll likely be more painful than I originally thought.

Sougent Harrop said...

Did a bit of a long comment in response to a blog post by Radar on his blog, posting in the interest of completeness...

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