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A virtual battle in online utopia

india Updated: Feb 04, 2007 01:31 IST

Politics and weapons — including those of mass destruction — are the next big thing in Second Life. In the virtual world, where no one dies, peace activists are quick to adopt weapons for ideological fights in the real world.

In early January, the Front National, a far right French political party, set up base in a PG neighbourhood of Second Life called Porcupine. A PG neighbourhood is devoid of any sexually explicit language, violent behaviour and aggressive language. As news of the arrival of an anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, pro-death row party spread, protests began.

"They were peaceful at first, with protest signs and chanting, but quickly degenerated. Weapons were drawn. It devolved into a battlefield, with people firing missiles, miniguns, and apparently even exploding pigs, on both sides," writes James Au on  nwn.blogs.com, which reports on events in Second Life.

The battle between Second Life leftist groups and the Front National activists lasted for more than a week. By then, the party headquarters had digitally disintegrated. By the third week of January, the headquarter was replaced by a casino. Most residents assumed they had scared off the extremists. But it was not so. The Guardian’s in-world reporter, Oliver Burkeman, tracked down the Front National’s new headquarters to another PG neighbourhood called Alex. This neighbourhood is not as popular as Porcupine.

Arms is the fastest growing industry in Secondlife; crates of basic weapons are free, and many are coded by US-based Linden Labs, which created Second Life in 2003. “High-end designers can charge you LS$3,000 for a weapon (around $12),” noted graphic novelist Warren Ellis says in his latest column for the Reuters bureau in Second Life. “These guns come with eight different types of ‘bullets’, some of which are loaded with tracking scripts that follow your victim around corners.”

Email mayank.tewari: mayank .tewari@hindustantimes.com

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