The tumultuous events in the temple the day of Cleopatra’s alleged murder were a harbinger of doom for the community. Rather than trying to resolve the events that had unfolded in role play, partly because tensions between groups were of a sufficient level that they seemed irredeemable, Horemheb decided that he would push the reset button. Accordingly he sent out this notecard to everyone in the community.
Notecard – A New Beginning
19/10/2008 Welcome to a New Begining!!! It has always been the intention that the Anachronistic Lands sims are committed to 24/7, In Character Role Play. I have allowed non role play, OOC conversations and behaviors to fester and grow, which, I feel, have had both a negative impact to role play, as well as a direct impact in our membership. As the owner and visionary of these role play sims, I feel it is my responsibility to instate rules that add to the positive and smooth flow of rp for all who choose to spend time here. In an effort to facilitate this, I have decided to disband all current groups within the sims and open a new, main group, as well as enforce the 100% 24/7 in-character rp that has always been the goal of these sims. A new main group has been formed, Anachronistic Lands. Any who are interested in role play here may come and fill out an application to be added to the group. Please note, if you are currently an active role player on the sims you will still need to come and re-apply as well. We will re-open for active role play on SATURDAY, OCT. 25 at 9AM SLT. At that time, we will also be opening our two new sims "Persia"! While some of you may choose to leave, we wish you well. For those who decide to continue in the rich and varied role play of Anachronistic Lands, this is a chance to learn from past mistakes and re-make role play that offers an experience that is truly fun and positive for all. As always, I am accessible to all via IM or notecard. Thank you for your continued support Horemheb
Although this action would certainly diffuse any role play confusion and contention, it did nothing to stem the flow of OOC grief that we all continued to experience. Everyone was very unhappy about this turn of events and accusations of blame flew around like corvidae spectres. There was suddenly a lot of griefing in the sims and, in the period between this announcement and new role play beginning, there was no role play at all. Some members left to join other role play communities, while others went temporarily to other communities so as to be able to participate in role play during the time there was none in Ptolemaic Egypt. Some members of the community who had been role playing in other communities all along started to recruit heavily for those communities, urging people not to remain in Ptolemaic Egypt at all. The vizier was chief among these and among the griefers. These activities became so disruptive that Horemheb had his closest assistant issue the following announcement in an attempt to stem the tide of trouble.
Notecard – Prohibition Against Role Playing In Other Communities
2008/10/22 Recently our rules and application have been amended to address some issues that we have been experiencing in the SIMs. The new sections reads as follows: AGREEMENT: We are providing you with rich and rewarding role play combat experience. We provide the sims, free clothes, free weapons, and manage and maintain all. By applying to our sims, you agree to follow our rules, make a positive contribution to role play, and IMPORTANTLY, agree to not join or participate in other groups or sims that have the same or similar Role Play as Anachronistic Lands. Currently that includes: All sims and groups from The Roman Empire Sims, Egypt Valley of the Gods, and The Ancient Roman World sims. If you are a member of those sims or groups you will be asked to leave them. You are receiving this note because this change will effect you. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need more information about our new policies. I would be happy to answer any and all questions or concerns you might have. On Saturday, October 25 these rules will be going into effect. Thank you. Seshemetka Anachronistic Lands SIM Adminstrator/Membership
This announcement was not well received. Apart from the obvious resentment generated by being told what to do by a community centered on freedom and fun, most criticism centered around the fact that this was an entirely unenforceable rule. Like Linden Lab’s similarly unenforceable rules about what one could and could not do with notecards of chats, and indeed all law attempting to regulate virtual spaces1 this rule was roundly ignored.
Horemheb responded by investigating each member. One’s profile in Second Life could, optionally, display the groups of which one was a member. Horemheb started checking people’s profiles to see which groups people were members of and then threatened to ban them from his community if they didn’t leave those groups. Most members responded by simply unchecking the box that would display groups prohibited by Horemheb in their profile. Members of the community began informing on each other, advising Horemheb if they had seen each other participating in other communities. For many people this was the last straw and they simply left the community never to return.
Then Horemheb disappeared. Usually Horemheb was in the world for at least ten hours a day. When he hadn’t been seen for an entire day and no one knew why, an unprecedented event, people started to wonder where he was. Then Seshemetka, his closest assistant, made a startling announcement. Horemheb, she said, was dead. That is, the meatspace person behind the avatar was dead. Shock reverberated through the community. A spontaneous gathering occurred at his palace. At first there was widespread disbelief that he was dead, a general preference to believe that he would be back. The uncertainty of not knowing about the person behind the avatar prevailed. But after Seshemetka told us all that she knew Horemheb in meatspace and she had confirmed he was really dead people started to leave mementos of Horemheb in the great hall as a memorial. There were a lot of people, certainly more than had ever been seen in the sims. There was a great outpouring of grief. The spontaneous memorial gathering in the palace went on for two days. Over two hundred avatars came and went in that time. More and more mementos and wreaths piled up.
There remained a contingent who thought his absence a staged ploy, I among them. We considered that either he had had enough of the turmoil in the community or else remained unconvinced of his meatspace death because of the phenomenon that often occurs in online communities wherein someone will say they are leaving, never to return, only to resurface shortly thereafter. Those of us who had no contact with Horemheb other than in the community were least convinced that he was really dead. Seshemetka and a few others who said they had known with him via Skype or in person were the contingent most convinced of his death. If it is true that those who maintained the reality of his meatspace death did so because of verification via methods other than Second Life, then this is a powerful example of how the unknowing of online life prejudices our worldview, making us more skeptical until corroborating evidence is provided. I find this a healthy skepticism and a desirable tendency.
People eventually began to realise what Horemheb’s absence meant for the community. Horemheb had been financially responsible for all the sims that made up the community and people started to wonder what would happen once the next payment was due. Seshemetka contacted Linden Lab and asked if they would transfer ownership of the sims to her. They declined, stating that their contract was with a named person and without that person’s permission no such transfer could occur. Regardless of this Seshemetka started to raise funds to pay for the sims. Her method was to try to find enough paying members such that if they each committed to paying a set amount each month the entire amount necessary would be provided. She did succeed in finding enough contributors for her plan to work, I agreed to be one, but then she alienated most of them by treating them in the same way Horemheb had, i.e. as if she was the only person whose voice mattered and as if everyone should simply obey her. By failing to treat the new stakeholders with respect she drove most of them off. Predictably the community fell apart. Linden Lab simply deleted the sims once payment was overdue. Seshemetka tried to keep things together and obtained a single sim in which to keep the community going with the few members of the community she hadn’t alienated. This sim continued on for a while until eventually being taken over by someone else and being turned into something completely different from Egypt.
Myself, Berenike and a group of about fifteen others (all of who were anti Gor) started a new sim and formed a new Egyptian community. I remain unable to write much about that second community as a key member withdrew consent very late in the study and it is hard to say much while honouring that request. That community was founded on the model where a group of members each pay a fixed amount toward sim rental. This situation became problematic later as it is not possible for more than one person to be the registered owner of a sim in Linden Lab’s eyes.
Horemheb’s death was to be a pivotal event for the sims as, although his funeral brought the community together, his death quickly led to the demise of the community. Many people remained skeptical about whether or not he had really died in meatspace or if he had staged his death in order to close down the community. Often people would leave and then come back as another avatar after a period of days or weeks, but it was always easy to spot who they were if one had had any reasonable amount of interaction with them. In the two years following his alleged death no one who knew Horemheb has seen him return to the world, at least as that avatar.
- Michael, G. J., (2012), Anarchy and Property Rights in the Virtual World: How Disruptive Technologies Undermine the State and Ensure that the Virtual World Remains a “Wild ↩︎