Typist doing academic things when this popped out and took ahold of the shared brain:
[Dave] Rickey was ostensibly talking about how customer support works in a game this complex, but by the end of his talk it was clear his point was that it doesn’t. Customer support, in the traditional sense of companies walking users through a product that the company understands much better than the user, has to give way to something more like democratic politics. “You have to remember that, in aggregate, the players always know your game better than you do,” said Rickey — and given that fact, he argued, the most efficient way to manage customer satisfaction is to let them tell you, to a certain extent, how to run your game.¹
I’m not sure I could come up with a better encapsulation of the meta-issues behind the openspace sim controversy. I don’t own any significant land holdings, nor have I taken the time to understand land issue or how simulators work or scripting loads … or any of the technical issue of how SL works as it does. Despite having a rez date of exactly 2.5 years on the grid (really, as of today), I am a clueless newbie and mere consumer in a lot of ways. Nonetheless, having experienced text-based virtual worlds off and on for 6 years, spent time as low-level customer support for a variety of enterprises, going from one service-based profession (librarianship) to another (lawyers need clients, n’est-ce pas?) … I can say with some confidence that LL did an appalling job in managing the expectations of a significant chunk of its customer base. That some startlingly devoted creatives are so open as to the grief and loss of trust they’re experiencing says so much.
¹ Julian Dibbell, Owned! Intellectual Property in the Age of eBayers, Gold Farmers, and Other Enemies of the Virtual State, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the End-User License Agreement, The State of Play: Law, Games, and Virtual Worlds, ed. Jack Balkin and Beth Noveck (New York, NY: NYU Press, 2006).