Congressional pressure applied by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has apparently gotten the attention of Linden Lab, operators of popular MMO Second Life.
GamePolitics readers will recall that Kirk lashed out at Second Life last month, accusing the game of offering inadequate safeguards to prevent underage users from wandering into the seedier corners of the game:
Sites like Second Life offer no protections to keep kids from virtual "rape rooms," brothels, and drug stores. If sites like Second Life won't protect kids from obviously inappropriate content, the Congress will.
A post on the Second Life Children blog indicates that Kirk's charges have already forced some changes on the SL community. Apparently, players who use child avatars will not be allowed to participate officially in the upcoming Second Life 5th Birthday (SL5B) celebration on June 23rd. Blogger Loki Eliot writes:
Last night [we] met with the Linden assigned to the organising of [SL5B]... we have unfortunitly [sic]been told we will not be allowed to represent or promote our community... From what we could understand the reason being that Linden Lab (LL) do not want the world to see our community being sponsored by them in the current climate of hysteria created by a certain US politician. This MAY also mean that Child Avatars will NOT be allowed at the SL5B celebrations.
While shocked and disappointed that LL have decided to exclude us from such a celebration of everything in SL, I ask everyone in the Child Avatar community to stay strong and to not seek retribution. I reluctantly acknowledge that LL want us to lay low until the smoke of Real World Politics blows over or risk the entire world of Second Life being torn down by uneducated Politicians seeking fame and glory.
A number of Second Life bloggers are up in arms about the Linden Lab exclusions from SL5B which also extend to a pair of sexually-themed SL communities. Ruslan Laryukov, a commenter on the Daniel Regenbogen blog writes:
I find it doubly regrettable that LL has lumped the kids community - in my experience one of the nicest, smartest and *least* sexual communities within SL - together with gor and bdsm... I simply resent the insinuation that the kid community is centered around sex, because that is just false... Most of us just want to be young and happy again, to release our inner child, to re-experience our youth with the good stuff - and without the bad stuff, which, for some of us was really bad.
GP: I'll confess to not having much knowledge of Second Life in general or the child avatar community in particular. But it's startling to see how quickly a few harsh words from a single congressman can cause changes with the SL community.