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Sadville besieged by bitey 'spampires'

Tiresome pyramid spammers bothering avatars

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Run for your lives: the vampires are coming! Or "spampires", as they are now referred to by many of the increasingly concerned inhabitants of Sadville.

Of course it had to happen - once you tire of Second Life sex, the attraction of the dark side becomes overwhelming. Hence the rise of Bloodlines - a game that has been growing in popularity over the last year or so.

The premise is simple: as simple, in fact, as a pyramid selling scheme, and for some, just as annoying. Individuals playing the Bloodlines game wander the virtual wastelands offering to bite other avatars. A blue box pops up, offering the bitee a simple choice: "Would you like to be bitten?" with yes/no buttons offered.

If the bitee accepts, their avi receives a set of bite marks and their soul – their personal details – is transferred into the Bloodlines database. Game players advance in seniority and status according to how many people they have successfully bitten, how many souls they have recruited, and how much blood they have sucked. Delicious!

Unfortunately, this game has thrown up a couple of serious problems. First, any system that allows individuals to advance in status by recruiting new blood is going to attract a fair number of the pushy, the insensitive, and the downright tactless. Individuals who only visit Sadville for the shagging scintillating conversation have been complaining that in some areas, it is almost impossible to move without some pasty-faced avi leaping up and begging to be allowed to bite them.

Worse, more persistent vampires have been known to hang around newbie areas, offering to bite Second Life virgins the moment they arrive. Well, it's what vampires do: but critics have argued that this is probably harassment – and as such a breach of the Linden TOS.

To their credit, the makers of Bloodlines have produced an artefact – a virtual garlic necklace – that allows individuals to ward off unsought advances. Again, though, critics have questioned why it should be up to an individual who is wholly uninterested in this game to take steps to avoid it, rather than for gameplayers just to have some respect and play nice.

Some storeowners have even taken to posting "No Bloodlines" notices, and running a “Buffy Bot” which ejects vampires the moment they bare their fangs.

Worst of all, though – and the reason for the spampire tag – is that darn soul database. Once on, it appears, it is very difficult to get off again. Those who have unwittingly agreed to go on it have complained bitterly both at the speed with which Bloodlines have responded to removal requests – and the amount of spam they receive whilst on it.

In some cases, they report being asked for money (OK – Lindens) in order to escape the clutches of the undead.

All told, a pretty average story of inertia selling and marketing without permission. The only real difference is that in real life, the vampires dress up as insurance salesmen and don’t actually bite you. ®

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