“Red Light” Continent in Second Life’s Future

Lots of commentary has, no doubt, been delivered already on Linden Lab’s announcement yesterday of planned “adult-content reform” for Second Life. I suspect that Residents have been looking for the next thing they can excoriate Governor Linden about; and, lacking any major crash and burn of the 1.22 viewer release (which is unlikely, considering how long it’s been in development and testing), this is the Next Big Piece of News to Hit the Grid.

Just in case by some accident you haven’t heard, the Lab plans to designate one section of the Grid as exclusively for adult-level content, with access by some acceptable form of age verification.  This will not be a single sim/region; even based on the 2-4% estimate of content as falling in a definition of “adult content,” that would more than fill a single sim, even using the airspace above ground level.   (Imagine the lag in that single sim!)  It appears that they are planning to build a subcontinent designated for red-light activity, to which all such content on the Mainland will need to move by deadline.  Estate islands will not be subject to the move.  However, all user-created content must be flagged with an appropriate age level, regardless of its location.  Access to the red-light continent will be by age-verified accounts only.

This last may be one of the stumbling blocks faced by both Residents and Linden Lab.  The methods suggested in the original Big Blog article:

…We will implement account verification systems that provide an additional level of assurance for providers of Adult content that only adults are able to access their content. Such a system might be tied, for instance, to a verified payment method like a credit card, a validation by our age verification provider, or another credible method of validation….

Considering all the fun I’ve heard concerning Residents from outside RL North America trying the “age verification provider,” I don’t see that method being very popular.  Credit cards may be more likely a method.  I’ve wondered if that meant that all Residents will eventually need a full, paid account, but I find that unlikely; after all, Profiles today say “Payment info used,” which should be enough for most purposes.

Of more concern, and the main thing that is being debated in the Forums now, at Linden Lab’s invitation:  what is “adult content”?  The final decision on this will affect hundreds of Residents, and is going to be almost literally thrashed out.  One definition might include combat sims, and those folk will resist that as much as they can.  For instance, would you call the duels that take place on one of the regions in Samurai Island complex “adult”?  I would encourage you to go to the Linden’s article, about halfway down the page now, and click on the links to take you to the Forum threads, where you can express an opinion, and help in the shaping of these matters.

A speculation on my part:  once this new system is finalized, the Teen Grid will probably be closed down.  This is a reasonable conclusion, assuming that the plan moves through; without the adult-oriented content out there, there is no real reason to segregete off minor Residents — assuming, of course, that they have not forged some sort of age verification.  Still, this could open up the main Grid for educators’ more thorough use.  Despite the comments of some in other venues, Second Life is what you make of it, what you want it to be.  Several corporations are already discovering savings in their transportation budgets by holding meetings in world; and a good educator will scout out locations that fit their lesson plan, then bring their class in to experience it.  Time will tell on this; but, considering the remarks of Philip some time back, I would think the eventual closing of the Teen Grid will be at hand.


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