Saturday, January 26, 2008

Second Life Herald Drama

The Second Life Herald Runs some remarkable stories:

Prokofy Neva smiles as Agent Linden confiscated more land this week

An empty plot in Furness sim may be a warning to anyone expecting rule of law and property rights in the metaverse. According to a report published by Shaun Altman, the virtual land was seized by Linden Lab earlier this week. But why would the normally disengaged Lab suddenly take action? Several sources report that Prokofy Neva, a role-playing advocate of rule-of-law and property rights has stepped out of character and is claiming credit for Linden Lab's land seizure. The land seized was formerly owned by a group of students building a tower next to several plots of land owned by Mr. Prokofy Neva. Mr. Neva claims that these same residents have harassed him for over a year - this apparently means that these students are ineligible to purchase virtual land - at least if this displeases Mr. Neva.

According to Mr. Altman's account, the students were said to be from Woodbury University - an institution who's island was destroyed by Linden Lab last spring. Mr. Neva has waged a long standing battle against all thing Woodbury, and the newly purchased plot in Furness was in close proximity to Mr. Neva's virtual land holdings. The result seems to have been a volitile combination, resulting in more than a little irony - irony which seems to be entirely lost on Mr. Neva. The long time critic of insider dealing by Linden Lab now brags of special connections that can result in avatar bans from the metaverse and property confiscation - without anything like due process or public hearings getting in the way of LL's rough justice.

As Shaun Altman writes, "This event is alarming mostly because when I viewed the build prior to it, there didn't seem to be anything present which violated the rules of Second Life. Prokofy Neva often theorizes about the existence of a secretive and elite cabal of Second Life residents, known as the "Feted Inner Core", or "FIC" for short. According to Prokofy Neva, this is a group of residents who are well-connected with Linden Lab, and receive special favors and/or special treatment within Second Life as a result of those connections."

Shaun Altman feels deep concern for what the future of Second Life may be like

Mr. Altman confirmed for the Herald that Mr. Neva now claims a certain FIC status for himself - and seemed to be indulging in a bit of victory dancing on his victims' land:

Pixeleen Mistral: did Prok really say he can get people banned?
Shaun Altman: Thats what he said to me (roughly, I didn't log it).
He said "do you see that land"
"do you remember what used to be on that land?"
"do you remember who owned it?"
"check who owns it now" ...
"check find people"
"now do you see what I can get done if I want to?"
That's a rough recollection, but thats more or less it

Pixeleen Mistral: I guess it pays to be Robin Linden's super-friend
Shaun Altman: Well I wouldn't want to speculate about how Prokofy accomplished this or if its even true.
The facts are LL snatched the land, the guy is gone, and Prokofy says "do you see what I can get done if I want to?"

Attempts by Pixeleen Mistral to contact Mr. Neva for comment were met with silence. Once the Herald located a reporter that Mr. Neva would consent to speak with, Mr. Neva said he was simply exercising his game-god given right to abuse report as he sees fit:

Jessica Holyoke: Hello. My name is Jessica Holyoke and I am a reporter for the Herald. I am following up with a story found here: http://www.shaunaltman.com/articles/2008/01/24/property-snatched-by-linden-lab, that states that you used your insider connections with Linden lab in order to get people banned from Second Life and their plots seized. I am following up for my editor in case her attempts to contact you for your comments were in vain due to her possibly being muted.
Prokofy Neva: ROFL I didn't use any "inside contacts," I filed an Abuse Report against a group of people who had harassed and stalked me for a year and who crashed 4 sims repeatedly where my rentals are, where the bought property. I guess the Lindens finally read and acted up on their abuse reports

While Mr. Neva's trash talk has been confirmed by both Shaun Altman and Intlibber Brautigan, was Prokofy Neva responsible for the land confiscation and account bans? We may never know for sure. It does appear that Mr. Neva will reach for the abuse reports if he believes there are any connections to Woodbury University. Why would Mr. Neva compromise his former commitment to due process and transparency in this fashion? It all makes a certain amount of sense if it lowers the cost of expansion of the Ravenglass empire by depressing land prices near Mr. Neva's holdings. Virtual land barons agree that buying low and selling high is the ticket to success - particularly if you are not concerned about how fair the game is. Should we look forward to another Ravenglass rental plot in Furness once Agent Linden puts the land on sale?

Plush City @ Second Life and Wuhan, China @ Real Life 26-Nov-2006

Anshe Chung has become the first online personality to achieve a net worth exceeding one million US dollars from profits entirely earned inside a virtual world.

Recently featured on the cover of Business Week Magazine, Anshe Chung is a resident in the virtual world Second Life. Inside Second Life, Anshe buys and develops virtual real-estate in an official currency, known as Linden Dollars, which is convertible to US Dollars. There is also a liquid market in virtual real estate, making it possible to assess the value of her total holdings using publicly available statistics.

The fortune Anshe Chung commands in Second Life includes virtual real estate that is equivalent to 36 square kilometers of land – this property is supported by 550 servers or land "simulators". In addition to her virtual real estate holdings, Anshe has "cash" holdings of several million Linden Dollars, several virtual shopping malls, virtual store chains, and she has established several virtual brands in Second Life. She also has significant virtual stock market investments in Second Life companies.

Anshe Chung's achievement is all the more remarkable because the fortune was developed over a period of two and a half years from an initial investment of $9.95 for a Second Life account by Anshe's creator, Ailin Graef. Anshe Ailin achieved her fortune by beginning with small scale purchases of virtual real estate which she then subdivided and developed with landscaping and themed architectural builds for rental and resale. Her operations have since grown to include the development and sale of properties for large scale real world corporations, and have led to a real life "spin off" corporation called Anshe Chung Studios, which develops immersive 3D environments for applications ranging from education to business conferencing and product prototyping.

Ailin Graef was born and raised in Hubei, China, but is currently a citizen of Germany. She runs Anshe Chung Studios with her husband Guntram Graef, who serves as CEO of the company. Anshe Chung Studios has offices in Wuhan, China and is currently seeking to expand its workforce from 25 to 50. (Pictures of the Wuhan offices are available here).

The valuation of the virtual land holdings is based on property value statistics published by Linden Lab and current simulator prices. Based on these statistics a valuation of one million dollars in virtual assets is conservative, and the actual value may be significantly higher.


This estimate only includes the valuation of the avatar Anshe Chung's virtual assets at current market rates. It does not include the real world assets of Anshe Chung Studios. It also does not include any valuation based on expected revenue, expected profits or any other intangible business equity (such as brand value or good will). It does not include assets owned in other virtual worlds such as IMVU, There or Entropia Universe.

Anshe Chung and Anshe Chung Studios are independent and not affiliated with other entities such as virtual world platform operators or marketing firms. Anshe Chung Studios is fully owned by Anshe Chung's creator and her partner and has been wholly financed from virtual world profits.

Above all, Anshe Chung stresses the importance of community in her vision of the virtual worlds and work spaces that she and others are pioneering together. Her goal is not merely to build a corporation, but to foster the development and growth of online communities, and to help make the entry of real world corporations into Second Life and other regions of the metaverse as frictionless as possible. It is her philosophy that Second Life is above all a social space, and that corporate entrants that respect the community will be the most successful.

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