Monday, January 28, 2008

First Life Intrudes

Those who lack a life have discovered Second Life, a virtual world that lets them be who or whatever they please. Imaginary beings can traverse through fiction and the real person behind the avatar can pretend to a more enjoyable or more daring lifestyle.

As an avatar, you the sexually repressed bookworm could become an exotic dancer with a voluptuous figure that puts the lie to your own lack of curves. You could be an animated vole, six feet tall, or your could be a gentle little bunny rabbit hopping through Second Life's animated scenery.

You, the avatar, could be stupid enough to fall for a Ponzi scheme that you, the real person, will have to pay for. In Second Life, the First Life has reared up and declared its presence.

Ginko Financial exists, or it used to at any rate, as a bank for avatars in Second Life. The problem arose when Ginko Financial accepted cash from the first life, with a promise to turn that money into profits of 40%.

In the real world, you'd walk away, knowing that if something sounds too good to be true, it isn't. Not so in Second Life, where everyone is your friend and no one would stoop so low as to defraud a bunch of innocent playmakers. Several people were scammed by Ginko Financial, to the tune of $75,000 in first life money.

So what did Second Life's creator do? Linden Lab promptly shut down the bank system, sending Second Life avatars into crisis. The little avatars protested in their fictional world, while those who lost some real cash learned that no one really knows who Ginko Financial is in the real world, and there's precious little hope of finding the missing funds.

I sense the need of some virtual contractors in Second Life. Someone to take on a job, take the deposit, and then disappear into cyberspace. Wouldn't that make Second Life just that much more like the real world the rest of us live in?

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