Saturday, May 12, 2007

R.I.P. Dolltopia

This is a hard announcement for me to make, because I put so much effort and several months into the Dolltopia sim and had a lot of hopes for it being a cool, safe and innocent place for people in Second Life like me who needed a better view of childhood to experience the wonder and joys we should have had in this imaginary world. Unfortunately, under the current climate of sexual ageplay witchhunts that seem to run the risk of inadvertantly targeting innocent child avie users or sim owners, I don't feel I can afford to risk the ever-changing policies and currents of Linden lab's whims on undefined rules and standards by operating any sim catering to adults playing child avatars, no matter how innocent the idea or how strickly enforced my rules. So, as of this time, Dolltopia is dead even before it opens.

I think it's very sad really, after reading so many comments from people on the official blog post about the German news expose, and Linden lab's resulting policy changes and actions. I myself, am a child abuse survivour as I have mentioned here before. Though Zoe is short compared to the 8 foot amazons running about SL, she is not a child avatar...but I do have a child avie alt. Like many grown adults who choose to play a child avie at times, SL allowed me to try to experience an innocent, carefree renewal of a childhood that for me was very violent and horrific at times. playing my child alt was liberating, safe, comfortable and very therapeutic. It allowed me to create a new childhood for myself that replaced the one I never had.

The vast majority of adults who play children in Second Life do so for I think similar reasons. Just based on my talking to those I know personally. yet, in the comments to the LL Blog post, I saw so many people asking LL to ban child avies altogether, and questioning the reasons why we as adults might want to play one...with the assumption being we are all perverts and take part in sexual activities, which is simply as far from the truth as you could get. I feel victimized all over again now by these witchhunters and by Linden lab and their media-craze induced ever-shifting policies that they will not even define for us. It's sad that in the name of supposedly protecting abused children, they re-abuse many of us that were abused children by taking away a very helpful means of healing after our destroyed childhoods. I will no longer feel safe even logging into my child avie alt now.

With no clear written legal policy on what is acceptable conduct for innocent roleplay of innocent child avatars and what is not going to be acceptable, i just can not feel safe running a sim like Dolltopia, even though it was designed to offer the sort of safe haven, therapeutic place for people like me to heal that is the very opposite of what LL and the ageplay witchhunters claim to be aiming for. If someone comes into my sim and propositions someone, will I be held responsible for running the sim, even though it's PG and has a strict covenant against any sexual behaviour by anyone, period? I can't say I have any faith in LL to fairly decide my fate in such cases, so I will avoid the situation by keeping the sim closed and killing the idea entirely.

I am not sure if I will continue making doll avatars either. I saw far too many people use the term "doll" in the same context as child avatar recently as they expressed opinions that LL ban them entirely. I may have to err on the side of caution there as well, and drop The Heart of a Doll brand for good.

While I am 100% for stronger laws in life to prevent child abuse like happened to me, and happens daily to millions of children around the world, and while I feel its a good idea for LL to be strict on anything from casinos to sexual ageplay inside SL that could compromise the platform legally...I feel the current method of handling the issue...namely a total lack of written legal policy and guidelines for legitimate businesses to follow and feel safe that they are acting within...only feeds hysteria and witchhunts, and causes people like me trying to offer positive views and options for child avies in SL to run like hell to avoid the loss of our businesses and income if LL decides to shift their unwritten policy in the wind of media attention as it has shown it is want to do.

If Linden lab ever wakes up and decides to start operating like a legitimate business platform developer, and starts stating ALL policies in clear legal language for business investors here to follow, i may reconsider Dolltopia. But for now I can't risk being involved with anything oriented towards children in Second Life, no matter how positive it was going to be. My apologies to anyone who may have been looking forward to the Dolltopia sim.


RobbyRacoon said...

Couple quick thoughts in response:

1) Well written post :)

2) Those people who are calling for a ban on all child avatars are idiots.

3) I do believe that LL will eventually (and hopefully soon) state their position on this in much clearer terms. They must, in fact, because it will necessitate a change to the TOS. And I hardly think their legal department will let them leave it so ambiguous for long.

I'm sorry to hear that this has had such a hard and lousy impact on you personally, and would like to suggest that when it's all said and done things will not be as bad as they appear. The SL forums *always* make every possible issue into the most chaotic mess imaginable.

Hang in there :)

Kait Eilde said...

I don't (and don't ever have any plans to) have a child alt, but I feel so sorry for you folks who do and are now probably going to lose them due to the f*&!ing perverts in SL. I too am a child abuse survivor, and whilst I've never used ageplay as therapy I can see it's positive points. Here's hoping the witchhunts don't get too out of hand.

Lucas Lameth said...

noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo......... me and others i know were anticipating dolltopia for so long :*( im sorry it worked out this way but its all understandable i wish it werent so though <333 love always

Sio said...

I'm sorry to hear this, Zoe. LL need to completely rethink their policies, or at least give us some better guidelines as to what is or isn't allowed.

I hope you don't mind, but I linked (and copied the text) this to the Second Citizen forum... There's a debate hapening there on the issue and I thought this would help.

Sio's Second Life

Qlippothic Projects said...

I think after LL gets out of panic mode from the bad press they will come to their senses.

Going from banning ageplay to banning child avatars, doll avatars, and even harajuku lolita dresses is an overreaction.

LL floats in the murky realm of cyberspace law. They are obviously influenced by the Big Businesses that are dropping their own islands in (because people like us are too busy in SL to watch their TV commercials!) But LL has always ultimately been beholden to its users.

This is why LL doesn't tax you for in-world transactions anymore. This is why Copybot is banned.

Perhaps in the near future the dollies will play and shop in your Dolltopia.

~Dr. Mason

Zoe Llewelyn said...

Thank you all for your kind words and comments. They are very much appreciated.

In a semi-update...I am considering reworking and re-releasing the doll avatars eventually if I can write up a satisfactory End User Agreement that I feel covers my own ass in the event of further odd policies from LL.

For now, Dolltopia will remain closed however. if it ever does open, I expect it will be much darker and be more an exploration of what dolls mean to me...not the wonderland of childhood innocence I had intended.

It is an odd world we live in where anything offered up as innocent is immediately suspect, yet anything blatantly offensive, mature, or sexual goes without pause and is allowed. Running a child-oriented sim that helps adults relive and heal their childhoods opens me up to harrassment, false accusations, and potential bans from LL...yet running a dark, sexually themed sim with violence and murder is acceptable. Such a strange world...

PixilDoll86 said...

This doll sim thing sounds fun and I hope you can create it again, it sounds like you were helping others to heal mental wounds. I hope you get it back and I also hope to join in when you get it back, although not an abused child I was sexually asulted by a friend and it left some mental scars in my subconcious that have remained there since middle school.