Sep 11, 2013

Modus Operandi

The greatest heist in virtual history.



Modus operandi (plural modi operandi) is a Latin phrase, approximately translated as "method of operation". The term is used to describe someone's habits of working, particularly in the context of business or criminal investigations. In English, it is often shortened to M.O.


The expression is often used in police work when discussing a crime and addressing the methods employed by the perpetrators. It is also used in criminal profiling, where it can help in finding clues to the offender's psychology. It largely consists of examining the actions used by the individual(s) to execute the crime, prevent its detection and/or facilitate escape. A suspect's modus operandi can assist in his identification, apprehension, or repression, and can also be used to determine links between crimes.



Sherlock Holmes



Some days I don’t even know where to begin…


In a recent TOS update, Linden Lab decided to go all Mufasa on your asses and declare that everything their server touches is theirs entirely. There’s a few analogies here that could be employed, such as the one where the parchment maker owns the rights to everything Shakespeare wrote, or maybe in modern times a web host claiming every website on their server is actually theirs.

I’d like to see a silver lining here and find a way to spin this, but my name isn’t Wagner James Au. I simply cannot (and will not) try to be an apologist for this appalling behavior. It’s not like this is some sort of mistake, because it isn’t. Ever since Gaming Jesus took the wheel at Linden Lab, it’s been insult after mockery to everything that Second Life actually is and the community that literally helped create it. Every step of the way proclaiming he “gets it” when in reality he doesn’t have the single foggiest idea what the hell it is that Second Life represents or how to work within that ecosystem.

Oh, he get’s it alright… what he sees is a mountain of content, services and millions of years of man-hours put into the creation of a virtual environment that would have taken arguably billions of dollars had an in-house design team been charged to create it all.


The only question that remained was how he was going to swipe it all from you and sell it to the highest bidder. Like a dim-witted Moriarty, our derp-hero set into motion a chain of events that was both a brilliant thievery and a daring caper in broad daylight.

The best part was, he even got most of you to help him load the trucks up before he drove off, while getting others to smile while they told the world how innovative and great he was.

The odd thing is that even when I originally spelled it out in no uncertain terms, people repeatedly lambasted me for being a Debbie Downer saying I shouldn’t be so negative about things…

So there you have it. They finally decided to take every last thing from you while you were trying to kiss up to them and be in their exclusive favor. Is that not how things have gone down?

What exactly should we call it?

Seeing as we’re drowning in denial here, what is it we’re supposed to make of the situation which continues unabated?

The first order of business was redefining Premium Accounts by copying (poorly) every pre-existing service and offering what the community already had. Locking it behind some elitist gated community. Next was deciding that Linden Lab was a gaming company, and then pouring time, effort, and money into making new games.

When they attempted to put Second Life and other new games on Steam, the number one digital games distribution platform on Earth, they didn’t like the terms and decided to (surprise) buy out Desura and make their own. Somehow they expect major developers and indie games to just jump ship from Steam and join Desura.


Instead of integrating actual social media platforms into Second Life, such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and more, they again just went ahead and built their own and expected everyone to just use it instead of the countless and far more popular existing social media out there.


Of course, that wasn’t enough.

No, instead of utilizing what is arguably the single most powerful new media marketing platform at their disposal (Marketplace and Second Life), they again thought it was a great idea to litter Marketplace and their site with Banner Advertising.

The 90s called, they want their marketing strategy back.

Saved by the Bell This is simple modus operandi for them. It’s ingrained into their very fiber and being to do these sorts of things no matter how detrimental or how unrepentantly ridiculous the notion. It doesn’t matter if literally every single part of this flies in the face of everything the product, community, and at this point the entire Internet works on.

He’s a game executive from Electronic Arts.

That’s all you really ever needed to know about the situation right there. Ask literally every serious gamer on Earth and you will find that there is a loathing of EA as a company for repeatedly screwing over their customers at every conceivable junction. For pulling similar dick-moves non-stop and generally acting like unrepentant assholes to their very customers and community.


EA earned hatred with poor games, lack of vision, and contempt for the audience.


And lucky for you, one of their shining pupils is the CEO of Linden Lab! Go ahead and click the above link and read the pedigree of Gaming Jesus.


It’s alright... I’ll wait right here, listening to some elevator music.





Ok, and you’re back!


That’s some seriously damning stuff right there. He was a high level executive at Electronic Arts before he came over to Linden Lab. That’s like picking Genghis Khan to not pillage and burn a village to the ground.


Remember, his experience comes from “Poor games, lack of vision and a contempt for the audience”. Now look at what he is doing at Linden Lab... every decision, game, and even the attitude toward the community, and tell me he’s not showing his true colors.


These are the people who bought out Popcap Games, and Plants vs Zombies, then fired the freaking studio responsible for it – who I might add went on to start a new studio that was acquired by none other than Valve.

This is the level of contempt and arrogance we’re talking about here.

Somebody thought it would be a wonderful idea to give this man the helm of a company that deals with the largest sandbox virtual environment on Earth, a system that lives and thrives on a user-generated content ecosystem as well as the very creativity of those users to showcase all that the virtual environment (their flagship product) can offer… and who immediately set out to slam square pegs into round holes so he felt comfortable.

Yes, I’m sure he feels at home now. He’s essentially running his own little Electronic Arts with a Napoleonic complex. Taking not just pages out of the playbook from the most hated game company in the world, but taking the whole damned book (since this one time, he touched it and now he owns it).

At every single turn, all anyone has heard is -


YOINK! This is now mine.

Except with the latest power play they claim the rights to everything ever made if it so much as looks at their server in passing whether they actually own it or not. Never mind that this violates 99% of pre-existing content licenses in the world. Never mind that the original premise of Second Life (and one of the reasons you got into it) was that they explicitly told you that you own your creations.

Maybe the more appropriate analogy for a former VP at Electronic Arts, arguably playing second fiddle to the big-wigs and then suddenly taking the CEO position at Linden Lab is less like Mufasa and more like Scar?


At least Mufasa had some right to what he claimed, and knew there were limits.

Now that I think about it, he does have an uncanny resemblance to Scar when you look at it. But then, I suppose that makes most of you reading this the Hyenas… settling for the scraps in the aftermath, and how some of you perpetually waste no time at all trying to be apologists for Scar’s actions and play it off as ultimately a good thing.

There’s always a spin to it, and there’s always an angle to make it look good.







The understanding and mentality required to be the CEO of a virtual environment sandbox system is fundamentally different than the mentality that Electronic Arts taught Mr Scar. Not only are they different mentalities, but they are fundamentally opposed with polar opposite results.


In the gaming world, to some degree, it’s about controlling things. Electronic Arts takes this to the delusional level and insists absolutely everything is under their control. But unleash second fiddle Scar with his inferiority complex on Second Life as the CEO and even Electronic Arts would be proud of the wonton and unapologetic power grab that can only be described adequately as:





How else would you describe him since walking into Second Life and seeing the vast sea of services, content and mountains of opportunity?


Which of course, he now owns because he decided to just say so. Is the video above too far fetched?




  1. Quite brilliant.

    Posting a link on the VERY long Merchant Forum thread currently running at SL as well as on my growing list of posts, threads and articles on the TOS debacle. I didn't really learn much *wink*, but it was a GREAT READ!!!!

    Now have you bookmarked for later enjoyment.

    For those that want to delve deeper, this is a possible starting point and happily updated increasingly often (three times today). If you have written on the TOS and want to be included, just let me know.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post :) Thanks for reading!