Russian Content Creators in Second Life, Now Sanctioned & Unable to Cash Out, Contemplate Bad Options in Both Realities
Though Linden Lab has not yet announced any plans to ban payments from Russian users on its virtual world platform of Second Life, the US and EU banking sanctions have already taken their toll on SL content creators in Russia — especially those who depend on Second Life for their livelihood:
“After the blocking of PayPal,” as reader “Alex” explains in a recent comment, “all Russian creators were deprived of the opportunity to receive money from sales in SL. For many of them, working in SL is their main and only job.”
All this happens as Second Life users around the world create pro-Ukraine/anti-Russian images and the Second Life island of Moscow has been inundated by so many anti-invasion protesters, the owners resorted to posting a massive billboard in virtual Red Square, imploring visitors to refrain from activism (above).
In group chats, Second Life content creators based in Russia are now privately discussing their options, but are reluctant to air them with the Second Life community at large:
“[O]ut of sympathy and compassion for what is happening in Ukraine,” as Alex puts it, “Russian creators do not bring their problems into public discussion… Many [Russian SL] creators and their families are already left without a livelihood.”
Alex believes that some creators in the short term will continue creating in Second Life, even without a cash-out option, but “we will not be able to do this for a long time and will not be able to support our customers in the game as we have always done.”
Russian creator Akirakiyoi Resident (pictured) tells me a similar story. In a painful irony, he was among the many Russian Second Life users who rallied to support their brethren creators in Ukraine.
Putin’s base of supporters in Russia, he tells me, are “elderly people who don’t know what Netflix for example or Second Life is. Younger generations playing games and drinking Starbucks are not the people who vote for him, or who support him.”
Many of them not only play Second Life but in recent years, as Russia’s economy continued to falter, have turned to virtual world content creation into a career.
“Most of these creators don’t have a real job since SL was their full time and we expect a major crisis in the country with high unemployment rates,” says Akirakiyoi, who then adds: “But of course the first thing that needs to happen is this invasion to finally stop.”
Above: After pro-Ukraine protests by Second Life users, the owners of Moscow island in Second Life erected this billboard in Red Square: “[T]his is just a historical sim, please do not gather here with political slogans!”
Akirakiyoi himself runs a successful SL brand — so successful in fact, that due to the sanctions, he might leave Russia itself, in order to keep creating and selling virtual content:
“I’m not going to leave Second Life,” he tells me, laughing. “I will leave the country to access payment, but not Second Life.” He loves the virtual world, for one thing, a regular Resident of Second Life, as are roughly 12,000 fellow Russians. For another, he is not the only person in Russia depending on his continued work int he virtual world.
“It’s my full time business and I spent years building it,” as Akirakiyoi put it. “And also have my parents I need to help.”
Other tech savvy Russians yearning to escape Putin’s reach, he acknowledges, may not be as lucky.
Have a Great Week. From all of us at Zoha Islands/Fruit Islands