Owning or renting a piece of virtual real estate is rather a mixed blessing: On the one hand, you have all the benefits of being able to build your own little bit of pixel paradise, in whatever form you’d like it to take – perhaps set up shop, or show off your artistic talent, without the constraints of fitting in with other people’s ideas – and, whilst being lord of all you survey may not necessarily give you carte blanche to go completely mad with your digital domain, you certainly gain a whole lot more freedom than those sorry souls who are lacking in the land department.
Then again, it’s not all fun and games. There’s tier or rent to be met – a rude awakening that reminds you no matter how much it might feel like you’re dealing your own cards, somebody else is actually holding the deck. There’s also the balancing act between prims and pretty: just because you can have something, doesn’t mean you should – filling up your little piece of paradise can become a frustrating task when you’re constantly having to juggle your fixtures and fittings just to get it all in.
Those things aside, it’s the annoyances caused by other people that can be the most irritating… The blonde bimbo with the big bazookas who decides that your secluded little forest glade is perfect for use as her own private dressing room… The hell’s angels who think it’s great fun to drive their Harleys through your beautifully tended flower beds… The rave club that opens up next door, lagging the sim beyond belief and attracting undesirables into your peaceful retreat. The potential annoyances are many and varied, but the worst of all are those who take liberties with your land: Trespassers who think nothing of expanding their own parcel by encroaching on to yours.
At best, it’s an annoyance, easily dealt with by a quiet word with the offender, or if you’re more the decisive type, a swift return to owner – mission accomplished. It becomes more problematic if your neighbour is the belligerent type or just plain awkward and obnoxious. Whether in the real or virtual world, it’s never pleasant to fall out with the neighbours and boundary disputes are notorious for becoming bitter and entrenched battlegrounds. Worse still are the difficulties that can arise from an encroaching object, when the root prim is firmly embedded on the wrong side of the dividing line – I’ve seen numerous assertions that the Lab has made it possible to return overlapping offenders, but I’ve yet to come across a single instance where this has been possible. What can you do when polite requests fail? Complain, threaten, submit a ticket and hope? Sometimes it becomes a war of attrition, each side coming up with ever more devious ways to score points over the other, and suddenly your little plot of paradise has become hell on virtual earth!
And that’s just the visible intrusions – what happens when your space is violated and the cause isn’t immediately apparent? Irregularly shaped sculpts are notorious for this and can cause even the most conscientious of neighbours to inadvertently trespass by virtue of bounding boxes that stretch way beyond the physical dimensions of their source. It may not even be your immediate neighbour that’s to blame – a poorly designed and placed off-sim mountain range can cause havoc half way across the region: All of a sudden your furniture stops functioning, you can no longer sit on your chairs and you’ve no idea why – the culprit: A huge, half-sim wide bounding box, trapping everything within its confines and ruining everybody’s fun.
Although there will always be those who chance their luck and take advantage, by far the majority of landowners would be mortified to think they’d intruded upon next door’s plot, but it’s so easy to do without even realising. An artistically placed rock formation may look amazing emerging from the undergrowth, but how often do we think to look below the surface? Like an iceberg, there’s a fair chance that a huge chunk of awkwardly-shaped granite lurks silently underground, and the first we know of it is when the nice man from next door sends you a withering IM, demanding to know why you’ve seen fit to invade his secret underground lair with half a mountain!
Perhaps that’s why so many of us choose to live in skyboxes?
A wouldn’t it be nice to get on with me neighbours
But they make it very clear
They’ve got no room for ravers
They stop me from groovin’, they bang on me wall
They doing me crust in, it’s no good at all
The Small Faces – Lazy Sunday