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May 15th, 2007

Mass Suicide?

A few days ago, there was a mass suicide in World of Warcraft. It was an act of protest.

Though you might find this strange when I say this, it is a serious world inside a massive, online game. At least, in my experience it is. You couldn't call it humourless, but there are times, certainly, when you look around and find that everyone has just gotten caught up in Life Two, and needs to take a moment out to chill. The Mass Suicide of Shamans was a pretty large example of this, in which players, in protest of the modifications being made to the shaman class, protested by killing their characters and leaving the bodies strewn through the streets of one of the major cities. The protest suicide involved players creating new shaman characters, often with names like 'AccountDeleted' and 'ShamansNerfed' and, with these characters, they would head into Orgrimmar, climb up to the top of the Skytower, stand in the flames of the lamps, and then hurl themselves off, where they would die at the base. When I heard about this, I drifted past to have a look, mainly to feed what is my ever growing fascination with the culture within the game. There were about a hundred shaman corpses at the bottom of the Skytower when I got there. In addition, there were another fifty along the road in and out of the main gate. There might have been more, I suppose, and I figured there would be, because the night was young, but after watching a few suicides, the spectacle lost interest and I took off.

It is entirely possible that there was about a dozen people sitting round making new shamans and then heading out to virtually suicide them, but still, viewed in any context, it's interesting. At least to me it is. It's interesting because it's a surreal form of protest in a world made up of unreal people and it's utterly serious.

It is also, I imagine, just as pointless as real life protests.

Webs



Shimmering curtains of spider web looped over telephone wires on a perfect autumn day have given a ghostly look to sections of country road near Ballarat.

This scene, courtesy of baby orb weaver spiders, was captured by Age photographer Angela Wylie near Lake Burrumbeet last Friday. Not far from the area where the feature film Charlotte's Web was shot in Greendale - and in similar circumstances, save for a pig named Wilbur - the infant spiders have been busy leaving the nest.

The official name for the activity is aerial ballooning. The spiders dispense silk and allow the wind to drag it until it lifts them up and lets them "fly".


From Patrick O'Duffy (artbroken) and the Age.