One of the things I find fascinating about virtual worlds such as Second Life, The Sims Online and There is that in many ways they are very much like the real world — right up to the point where things start to get really weird. The fact that the laws of physics, morality and even life itself can effectively be re-written on the fly has a way of making things very interesting (and in many cases confusing) for non-players. I’ve written about this kind of thing before, and I recently came across another example — and one with a Canadian flavour, no less.
In a recent post on Second Life Herald, a writer named Pixeleen Mistral tells the story of what happened when she went to get a new cellphone for her avatar (yes, she felt her in-world character needed a hot new cellphone) at a new store set up by Telus, a Canadian wireless provider that has — like T-shirt maker American Apparel and several other retailers — opened a virtual version of one of its real-world stores. Unfortunately for Pixeleen, the store had been completely encased in plywood by a “griefer” artist trying for a Christof kind of look (griefers are like in-world hackers and troublemakers).
She came back a little while later to find the plywood removed, but then watched as another griefer (this one with a gun fetish, and an avatar whose clothes were covered in long spikes) first shot a customer (another journalist) and then waved around a sword to show off his script-writing skills. Sparkle Dale, who works at the Telus store, reportedly handed the whole affair with aplomb, and even managed to sell another customer a phone — all while the griefer was busy shooting another customer, a “trend consultant” from PSFK.com named Brighton Giugiaro, for standing between him and the door.
Juvenile? Perhaps. A waste of time? No doubt. But fascinating nonetheless.