Social class in SL
Tony Walsh has an interesting analysis of a recent decision by Linden Lab, makers of the virtual world Second Life, to add another stratifying dimension in the social of its space:
Once upon a time, all residents of Second Life were ostensibly equal, but 3 years after the virtual world was launched, the population was split based into “Verified” and “Unverified” social classes. Classification is based on one’s willingness or ability to submit identification and billing information to Linden Lab, maker of Second Life. Faced with a huge spike in service-outages caused by malicious users over the last 2 months, some residents say that the Unverified are becoming vilified.In a move that further complicates matters, Linden Lab announced yesterday that it is considering adding another social class: The “Trusted” resident. The company aims to make denial of service attacks more difficult by affording global programming powers only to Trusted residents. According to Linden Lab, “It is planned that ‘Trusted’ Residents will be clearly defined, and there will be processes in place (not all payment oriented) to become ‘trusted’ if your account currently falls outside of that designation.”
A comment contributor pointed out that this delineation is transforming Second Life into a (gasp) game:
Not a game. My ass. We just leveled up. Proceed to the bunkers and defeat the helicoptermech boss. 😉
A social game, perhaps, but one which reflects social strivings moreso than the objective-oriented software that Second Life is most adamantly not
Point taken, however.
More on the social stratifications wtihin online worlds is here, from a post I wrote donkeys ago for the gamesblog.