Putting the Bite on Bloodlines in Second Life

Second Life begins to bite.  Or at least certain Residents do.

No, I’m not developing an Enemies List.  I’m referring to players of Bloodlines, a viral game centered around vampires and their victims.  It’s apparently spreading through the Grid like…well, like a pack of hungry vampires on the prowl.  I was unaware of the game’s existence until I read about it at New World Notes, where Hamlet Au interviewed a player who was begging him to be bitten.  (The guy was trying to bite a Linden, looking to goose his rep with a slice of cachet.  Ham isn’t working for Linden Lab anymore, but he still has the cachet.)

The game is quite simple; one of the players comes up and “bites” you while they’re wearing the game HUD.  If you accept the bite, you become one of the Walking Undead — by wearing the HUD yourself — and your avatar’s name is entered in the game database.  Then you go on the hunt yourself.

Bloodlines claims an unreal number of participants — and therein lies the problem.  In order to rise higher in the ranking, you need to bite more necks.  (The resemblance to a Real World pyramid or Ponzi scam, where you need to keep bringing in more new [ahem] blood to raise your returns, has been noted by other writers.)  Some players have taken to hanging out in areas of avatar concentration in the search for victims.

Avatar concentration.  Gee, I wonder where avatars tend to concentrate…?

More after the break….

Yep;  stores, clubs/bars — and places where newbies cluster, such as freebie stores and instructional islands.  Simon, a gamer, wrote how he tried out Second Life as part of a classroom project.  He materialized in Dublin, and proceeded to the Blarney Stone.  Now, The Stone is normally a welcoming place; this night, though, besides meeting up with at least one avatar who told the new kid to bugger off until he got a decent looking shape and skin, he was also nailed by a Bloodliner.  The last I knew, the fellow hasn’t returned to the Grid.

I’m not saying the Bloodliner attack was the reason Simon scampered; he admits he wasn’t thrilled with the client interface and other factors beyond this.  But swooping down on unsuspecting newbies is not only ridiculous and unfair, but rather close to harassment, and therefore a TOS violation.  Better — if less in the spirit of “vampiric role play” —  to ask your prospective “victim” if they’d like to be bitten.  In a comment I made to another writer, I said (edited for length):

Playing the game politely…is one thing; but just leaping on random strangers, especially newbies, and sinking the fangs in is another. I realize that part of the “romance” of the vampire is the hunter/stalker thing…. But Second Life is just like real life in the way that it’s a working, if more libertarian, society; and society has rules…. This behavior goes outside the rules, except perhaps in the goth/vampire sims.

The good news is that there are tools to discourage unwanted toothy attentions.  The creators of the game have heeded the hue and cry, and created a free “garlic necklace” that you wear once.  You can reverse the ward if you want to get into the game at a future time.  And Sarah Nerd reports at Your2ndPlace that a “Buffybot” is available which will automagically eject and ban Bloodliners who try to bite it.

As for me, though my store’s region hasn’t had problems yet to my knowledge, I plan to put up a sign warning Bloodliners to curb their actions.  I’ll offer the sign for free at my store in world; but anyone who wants to just build their own, and doesn’t mind the L$10 upload fee for the graphic, can use the image below, which I hereby release into the public domain.

More articles on Bloodlines in WordPress.com blogs can be found through their Tag Surfer.  (You may need to sift through unrelated stories to get to the pieces on Bloodlines.)

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