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Monday, October 24, 2011
The Way I See It (1) : Games of Chance on Second Life
Second Life Newser welcomes it's newest writer: Alynia Vixen. Today, she starts things off with what she hopes will be a regular column, "The Way I See It."
Sometimes when I am less than occupied on Second Life, I go club hopping. Now mind you I have my own club where I tend to hang out, and there are a number of other clubs that I prefer. But some of the clubs I go to I have seen a sploder or two in play. Now for those who have not seen a sploder, it is basically a device that residents dump Linden dollars into, and some of the entrants get money back.
Sploders can be set up different ways. Sometimes everyone gets money, sometimes only a few do and they get the majority of the money. There are different types of sploders with different rules. But exactly how these sploders work isn't really the issue this column is about. The problem is that the Second Life terms of services says that "Games of Chance" are against the rules.
Now I would like to clarify, I personally do not have anything against sploders or games of chance at all, in fact, I think they are fun to play. And this article is not to condemn any club that might be using one. Instead I would like to talk a bit about the history of this particular part of the TOS and discuss its risks and implications, but also talk practically about the existence and use of games of chance in Second Life.
In November of 2007, Linden Lab invited the FBI to examine the operations of Second Life, including in world and business activities. It is commonly believed that the FBI initiated this investigation, but this is not the case. The FBI reported afterwords there were no 'areas of concern' found and found Linden Lab to be operating within the law, despite all the casino's strewn about the grid.
They proceeded to ban 'all games of chance' anyway. Why? This is a good question to which the answer has never been clearly given, but then we should expect nothing less of the Lab. There has been some theories however. Many believe they simply did not want to take chances with the law. But I believe that's nonsensical, because the presence of casinos, the land they occupied and the L$ they brought in great profit for them.
There are however other things that were factors. One of the ways that casinos drew in players was with 'money chairs' which paid you to sit in them. Often people would just plant themselves into a chair and used an auto-deidling client to stay in it. From a social perspective and a sim load perspective, the Lindens did not like this.
But an even bigger nuisance is that casino's were popping up everywhere. I bought a chunk of land in a mainland sim that was pretty quiet and about a month later a casino moved in. Its noises reached my parcel, easily. In short, casinos were devaluing the land on Second Life in general, and that hit the pocket of the Lindens. since most of the profit of Linden Lab comes from land transactions, money bought and sold in SL stays in the economy and the Lab gets a small percentage of the Lindex exchange.
What this means to games of chance today? Well, take a mass marketed game like Zyngo. I like Zyngo, it is debatable whether or not it is a game of chance. It has elements of chance in it. But the creator of the game must state in almost every three sentences describing it how it is not a game of chance, as if they felt the need to defend its existence against the Lab. But did the Lab do this because they feared the law, or did they just hate the deluge of casinos? I would contend it is the latter.
Sploders are definitely a game of chance, no skill involved. However, will you get in trouble for having one? Potentially, if someone wants to abuse report you for having one. But to be right honest, unless you're an oldbie, you probably don't even know that games of chance are against the TOS. And will the Lab come looking for them? Probably not. These days the Lindens aren't part of the world they enabled, instead they sit on high, and pretty much EVERYTHING they know about what is happening on the grid comes from abuse reports. Perhaps, this is why they seem to have such an apathetic view on us residents anymore.
In closing I just wanted to give people who use games of chance the perspective they need to judge whether or not they should use such a thing to attract people to their club. Does Linden Lab care about sploders? Probably not. They do not represent a threat to their profits, to the grid, or to the happiness of other residents. Can others use the existence of a sploder to hurt your club? Potentially, but unlikely. But just because I say 'unlikely' doesn't mean 'impossible' if someone really decides to push the issue. In my personal opinion I think sploders should be OK and that the 'games of chance' clause in the TOS is silly, but nonetheless, it is there.
What do you, the readers, think? Feel free to leave comments.