minecraft$2.5bn – that’s a heck of a lot of cash – although it’s really only pocket-change to the all-powerful, all-consuming Micro$oft, whose acquisition of Minecraft, (or more correctly, Mojang), is really probably more significant than the money itself.

Despite Minecraft having attained a venerable age of eight years and counting – a veritable pensioner in gaming terms – and it being the last word in retro styling and old school gameplay, it’s a long way from being yesterday’s news. Minecraft is still turning a tidy profit and, with around 54 million copies out there in the grubby hands of gaming aficionados, it’s very much a major player in the world of console games, holding its own very nicely at the cool end of the top ten titles. Much of this ongoing success is attributed to its strong and loyal user community and the cult following that Minecraft has built for itself over the years.

It’s very good news for Micro$oft, of course – which following its recent buy-up of Nokia must surely now rank the company as possibly the richest corporate power that has ever cast its demonic shadow over the world? But, is it good news for Minecraft, and – more to the point – its faithful users?

Well, the jury is out on that particular point: Micro$oft says ‘Keep calm and carry on mining’, nothing to worry about, everything’s going to be OK; Mojang are remaining tight-lipped about the whole thing, and the overwhelming reaction from the user base is one of utterly betrayal and distrust. Who knows what the future really holds? – i certainly don’t have a clue.

What i do know is that the whole drama is going to be watched very carefully by one particular group of people as it unfolds: The sl community are going to be very interested to see what eventually transpires. It wasn’t so long ago that rumours of a Micro$oft takeover of sl were rife – and there are those with ‘inside knowledge’ who insist that overtures were definitely made – so, with this in mind, it’s a reasonable assumption that maybe, just maybe, Micro$oft might consider beefing up their virtual world portfolio in the future, complementing Minecraft with our own beloved sl. After all, we’re not so far removed from Minecraft anyway… a multi-user sandbox platform, built on user-created content, with user-defined open-ended objectives, and a vibrant, fiercely patriotic and loyal community. You can’t help wondering, if the price and the timing was right, whether Micro$oft would ever consider making an offer that the Lab couldn’t possibly refuse?

And then what?

So… purely out of a sense of mischief, and because it seems an opportune time to resurrect it, here’s a (ever-so slightly) tongue in cheek article i wrote, way back in October 2010 dor Moonletters.com. i have seen the future… and it could be something like this:


So rumour has it that Microsoft is secretly bidding to buy Linden Lab – well, it had to happen sometime or another – where would the world be without good old Uncle Bill Gates owning most of it?

I don’t wish to get into any political debates about the matter – personally I find that kind of thing rather boring and pointless – but I have been pondering what sort of virtual world we’d find ourselves living in if it ever were to happen. Inevitably, us happy Second Life citizens would find some subtle changes happening to the way our world works. Come with me, if you dare, into the post takeover world of Second Life to see what joys might await us . . . .

An instantly recognisable brand. Out with the old and in with the new. Second Life will get a completely re-vamped corporate branding. Introducing ‘All New Universal Secondlife’, ANUS for short. Along with the new name MS will introduce a new inclusive blanket term for users to obviate discrimination against scripted agents – therefore, in future all residents and bots will be known as a ‘Human Or Locally Engineered Scripts’ (HOLE);

One platform for all – Yes, ANUS will run on any, absolutely any computer* [*- that is, any computer running Windows, preferably with a huge processor thingy and lots and lots of memory – far more than you have at the moment, of course. Don’t even think about running ANUS on any other operating system . . . this will render you and everything around you as simple cubes in a subtle shade of battleship grey, it will also corrupt your hard drive and invalidate the warranty on your washing machine. Oh, and sorry Mac users – you’ll be left out in the cold and forced to used a text-based viewer. (That’ll teach you for being so smart and trendy!);

Full integration – ANUS will, of course, be fully integrated with all existing and new Microsoft applications. What this means in practical terms is that you will only be able to login to ANUS with Internet Explorer 9, which will replace your existing viewer (MS have cleverly combined the browser and viewer to create the all new ‘Brewer™’), on the plus side, you will be able to import spreadsheets from Excel directly into your inventory and access Hotmail without closing your Brewer™ (admittedly, you will have to first shut down ANUS completely to access your e-mails but at least your Brewer™ will remain open. It’s a small price to pay for the additional functionality.);

Interconnectedness – Because of the limited capability that SL currently provides for social networking, ANUS will be linked to Facebook. Every ANUS HOLE will receive a brand new Facebook account which will be populated directly from their profile information. However, since Facebook does not allow accounts for ‘fictitious persons’, your real life details will also be automatically populated, including name, address, age, vital statistics and most embarrassing real life photographs you possess (you know… the one with the inflatable sheep and traffic cone!);

New Features – Well, old features with an exciting new slant, actually. All your old favourites will still be there: lag, failed teleports, slow rezzing and sudden logging-off, but these will now be known as ‘Functional Adaptation Resolution Tools’ (FART) – completely re-vamped and better than ever in the new Brewer™ interface;

Always up to date – Update your ANUS automatically! No more worries about whether you have the latest version, the new Brewer™ interface will automatically download huge updates while you patiently wait to rez (at least you’ll now know why it’s so slow!). For convenience, updates will be installed when you try to log on or off, (whichever is most inconvenient), with the friendly message ‘ANUS is updating DO NOT turn off your computer, or even think about taking your eyes of the screen’. To add a little spice to the whole update procedure, a cute little dialogue box will occasionally pop up (only two or three times a session) advising you ‘A critical update has been applied to your ANUS – your computer will restart in 30 seconds. Press OK or Cancel to confirm’. Isn’t it nice to know we’re being looked after?

A great deal – Of course, ANUS will continue to be free to basic members: MS won’t be charging us to become ANUS HOLES, unless we really want to become premium members, which will hold the same benefits as at present. You will however have to purchase the official Brewer™ application to run ANUS. There is a trial version, which will allow you to login up to 20 times before refusing to work any more and permanently deleting your account unless you upgrade immediately. Brewer™ will be offered in 3 versions –

* ANUS Brewer Home Edition: Basic, but just about affordable. No frills, but beggars can’t be choosers.
* ANUS Brewer Office Edition: Lots off additional add-ons that no-one will ever use. Also includes a ‘look busy, here comes the boss’ panic button;
* ANUS Premium Edition: Well worth the extra mortgage and it even comes in a special curvy plastic box. Includes extra useful features such as the ability to teleport, sound capability and it even allows you to edit objects.

All versions include a 50 character product key on an attractive holographic sticky label – this must be entered correctly first time or the product will lock-up and refuse to work until you can prove you really bought it using the premium rate international helpdesk telephone number.

Remember . . . you heard about it here first!

s. x

I see a clinic full of cynics
Who want to twist the peoples’ wrist
They’re watching every move we make
We’re all included on the list
Funboy Three – The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum

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