sweet f.a.

francesca alva's adventures in the metaverse

Oh noes! The sky is falling!

It does that regularly in SL, but I’m a little more concerned on this occasion: Philip Rosedale has announced that 16-17-year-olds will be admitted to the Main Grid. The Teen Grid (apparently a hotbed of copybotting and little else) will close. The 13-15 year-olds will be SL-less. This is what I gather, anyway: I didn’t watch the video and I’m waiting for some kindly soul to provide a transcript.

At the moment I have a reasonable expectation that anyone with whom I interact in SL is an adult, because only adults are allowed on the Grid. Francesca Alva’s Dictionary defines adult as legally of age; grown-up. It defines Adult (note the upper case “A”)as hanky panky. Unfortunately in the course of the various debates raging, people seem largely unaware that their word adult may be read by others as Adult. It is rather a case of two groups “separated by a common language”.

I have never indulged in Adult behaviour in SL (and frankly find it ridiculous), but I have no idea what sort of thing might be considered Adult vis-à-vis minors, and I am concerned that I shall no longer have that expectation of talking to an adult to safeguard me. Over the top perhaps, but this is such a minefield. Many people argue that some sixteen-year-olds are far more mature than many of the adults in SL. That is not the point at issue: it is their legal status that gives cause for concern.

Flame Wars have erupted in the Forums (although come to think of that, that’s pretty much a daily occurrence anyway). One post, to which I responded at some length, begged us to clean up the Grid and allow all ages to play. She said that it was time SL stopped being an adult [Adult] fantasy land. I was rather amused to see she is a creator of Adult content: talk about poacher turned gamekeeper. Here is my reply from which her name has been removed, although you can read the whole thread here.

[name removed] wrote:

Some people have commented that I feel strongly about the merging of the grids; and to me, it’s not really just about the merging of this grid. It’s about positive direction and positive momentum.

Let me say this…..

Second Life cannot stay the perceived “adult fantasy” land forever and expect to survive; I’ve said it in other posts and I’ll say it again in this, outside of Second Life, Second Life is a laughing stock because of its image. This image needs to change. Second Life deserves to be much more than what it is today and it’s not going to do that without being inclusive to everyone; and I don’t just mean teens….. businesses, organizations, families, family groups, religious groups….. *everyone*. Everyone should be able to be a part of our world and to help shape it, build it, and help to make it. And I believe what better place to start than with youth? They are the future content creators, future customers, basically, they are the future of Second Life itself.

Francesca Alva replied:

Interesting that I have never viewed SL as an “adult fantasy” land, or taken part in any activity that could remotely be said to come under that heading. When I use the word adult, I mean legally of age.

I do, however, see SL as already inclusive of all the groups you mention. I also like to think that as a content creator and consumer (to say nothing of my membership of various writers’ groups, a religious community, and attendance at lectures and live music events), I am helping to build and shape the world. Is my contribution less acceptable because I am middle-aged? I hope I have a good few years left in me before I go to that great Grid in the Sky

Youth may be the future of SL, but 18 is not exactly the last gasp before the zimmer frame and false teeth. Youth is also future of the real world, and I’d far rather minors were enjoying the best years of their lives out there, breathing real air; interacting with flesh and blood people and helping shape and build that beautiful, diverse, crazy, flawed, and irreplaceable planet on which we live, than sitting at a computer, effectively isolated. I have always been limited by disability in what I can do, but I am thankful there was no SL or Facebook when I was young. I am glad I did what little I could under a real sun.

I looked up a list of virtual worlds yesterday, and I was struck by just how many of them cater to under-eighteen-year-olds. Why is it so important that they shouldn’t wait an extra couple of years before joining SL?

[name removed] wrote:

Just a casual stroll through our world makes the seedy side of New York look like Romper Room. The way most of us behave in this world, we deserve to be a laughing stock, it’s well earned.

Second Life’s current name might as well be “Second Sex” because that’s what you all more or less want it to be. It’s sad, and honestly, it’s pathetic.

Francesca Alva replied:

Excuse me? That’s not my SL. That is your SL. That is the SL of the people who buy your stuff. You cannot make sweeping assumptions of that kind. I have never had “sex” in SL, and, frankly, I find the idea of it ridiculous, but if that’s what people want to do, then that’s fine with me.

[name removed] wrote:

People want things to stay the same, because that’s what they’re comfortable with. Well, what they don’t realize is when things get comfortable, they get stagnant, and when things get stagnant, they die. Second Life has been stagnant for awhile, and it is going to die if the water doesn’t start running again, and the food chain is invigorated with new talent, new people, new ideas, new markets to explore. And in order to do that, we need to open the gates to *everyone*. Man, woman, child, business, organizations, *everyone*.

Francesca Alva replied:

People have been saying SL is going to die ever since I can remember: it hasn’t happened yet. If things have slowed down, it could well have something to do with that RL recession out there. And just how do you feel that lowering the age of admission to sixteen is going to revitalize SL? Do people suddenly cease to be vibrant, creative; energetic at 18?

SL has always been open to the groups you mention – with the exception of children. I think that exception should remain in place.


Tuesday, 17 August 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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