The Albion Park section of Second Life is generally a quiet place, a haven of whispering fir trees and babbling brooks set aside for those who "need to be alone to think, or want to chat privately." But shortly after 5 pm Eastern time on November 16, an avatar appeared in the 3-D-graphical skies above this online sanctuary and proceeded to unleash a mass of undiluted digital jackassery. The avatar, whom witnesses would describe as an African-American male clad head to toe in gleaming red battle armor, detonated a device that instantly filled the air with 30-foot-wide tumbling blue cubes and gaping cartoon mouths. For several minutes the freakish objects rained down, immobilizing nearby players with code that forced them to either log off or watch their avatars endlessly text-shout Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Get to the choppaaaaaaa!" tagline from Predator.
Reading these stories gives me no small amount of pleasure. Some sad-faced SL nerds call this terrorism:
People laughed at those attacks, but for Prokofy Neva, another well-known Second Life real estate entrepreneur, no amount of humor or creativity can excuse what she sees as "terrorism." Prokofy (Catherine Fitzpatrick in real life, a Manhattan resident, mother of two, and Russian translator and human-rights worker by trade) earns a modest but bankable income renting out her Second Life properties, and griefing attacks aimed at her, she says, have rattled some tenants enough to make them cancel their leases. Which is why her response to those who defend her griefers as anything but glorified criminals is blunt: "Fuck, this is a denial-of-service attack ... it's anti-civilization ... it's wrong ... it costs me hundreds of US dollars."
*cue tiny violins*