Not Saussure

January 17, 2007

Aux Armes Virtuelles, Citoyens!

Filed under: Foreigners — notsaussure @ 2:19 pm

And we thought we had problems with the Big Brother inmates, the BNP ballerina and our own little local difficulty in BlogPower

Via Boing Boing, a somewhat surreal account from New World Notes of what happened when Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Front National attempted to set up a virtual headquarters in the virtual world of Second Life.

Virtual demonstrations against them were rapidly organised by virtual protest groups antiFN and SL Left Unity, joined by local virtual residents.

However, the demonstrations eventually turned ‘violent’, with the buildings coming under cyber attack from holograms of various sorts. New World Notes explains,

It’s unclear when the shooting started, or who fired the first shot (several witnesses claim FN security forces assaulted them with “push guns”, weapons capable of flinging a Resident across the island like a ragdoll), but in the final days of last week, at least, the assault raged from both sides. It’s also unclear if the anti-FN protest groups were involved in the escalating violence– Officers with both antiFn and SLLU haven’t replied to my Instant Message– though by personal observation, at least a few members seemed to be. Since Porcupine is not a damage-enabled area, weapons there have about as much stopping power as pointing one’s finger at the computer screen and saying Bang Bang. But get enough projectiles flying, and server lag is bound to ground anyone’s use of the area to a halt. (Or in my case, cause the Second Life viewer to crash.)

And so it raged, a ponderous and dreamlike conflict of machine guns, sirens, police cars, “rez cages” (which can trap an unsuspecting avatar), explosions, and flickering holograms of marijuana leaves and kids’ TV characters, and more. By California time, the battles often culminated at 2am, 3am, and even later into the small hours of the American clock, when Residents in Europe are most active. So amid the exchange of salvos, the chat log was choked over with pro and anti-Le Pen curses, most in French. And when the lag was not too overwhelming to stream audio, the whole fracas was accompanied by bursts of European techno.

One enterprising insurrectionist created a pig grenade, fixed it to a flying saucer, and sent several whirling into Front National headquarters, where they’d explode in a starburst of porcine shrapnel. A few native English speakers joined the fray, though at least one missed the point in either direction, unhelpfully shouting “The French stink! Get out of Second Life!” and the like amid the conflict. [Does this mean The Sun have a Second Life correspondent?]

Apparently by last weekend, the FN headquarters had vanished under the cyber assualt and been replaced by a small casino that wa open for business. The FN, however, say they’ll be back.

It rather looks as if one of Jon Swift’s predictions for 2007, that

ThirdLife, a virtual world for those who are bored with the limitations of their mundane existence on SecondLife, will be the year’s fastest growing social networking platform.

may come true sooner than expected, if only because people want to get away from the political violence.

Photos of the carnage here, here and here.

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