April 1, 2003: Second Life Beta goes from closed to Open. To coincide, Version 0.5.0 was released the day before, and seven new regions appeared on the map. Unfortunately, all of the surviving copies of that map (see above) are very small and terribly out of focus (probably from previous frequent enlargements). Also new on that map are landmarks with the now-familiar red pushpin icon, including the first mention of the Governor’s Mansion, and a second Welcome Area in the new region of Ahern.
One of the other regions added, just east of Clementina, was the first “Orientation Island Public”, where you could go to refresh your basic skills if you had the need. Its original (terra)form duplicated that of the official Orientation Island (then called “Prelude” and never shown on the map); the OI Public which now exists on the Grid is another exact duplicate. The very first one, however, had its own name — like its predecessors, taken from the streets of San Francisco near Linden Lab’s first headquarters — Jessie.
That lasted less than three weeks.
There is a very good essay, written by Hamlet Au of New World Notes in July 2003, describing what has since become known as the First Jessie War. The dates are a little vague, but the basics go like this:
From the beginning of closed beta, SL had a combat gaming area called “The Outlands”, which consisted of Hawthorne, Shipley, Federal, Stanford, and half of Clyde. However, they were not protected “Linden land”, and parcels were allowed to be claimed by Residents as… well, residences. At the beginning of open beta, a group of players of the MMO game World War II Online (still a going concern, by the way, as is their HQ in Jessie, above) decided to extend their love of combat simulation to SL, and apparently were abashed to find civilians in the combat zone who were not NPCs. Instead, as Hamlet, describes, the civvies became targets.
The upshot of all this has been alluded to previously, in the entry about Clyde. A mere 17 days after its first appearance on the Grid, Jessie was changed from being the first OI Public to being the only damage-enabled sim (at the server level) out of the 27 that existed then. The Outlands were abolished and the wall (constructed in October 2002) which once divided Clyde was turned 90 degrees and moved to Jessie’s norther border… which now adjoined Clyde, because the sim itself was moved two squares east, from where it appears on that fuzzy map to where it has been ever since. Surprisingly enough, the SL Forum archive preserves the announcement and a transcript of a “town-hall meeting” held by Philip Linden on the subject.
All in all, the so-called First Jessie War wasn’t fought in that sim so much as it was fought about it. The same cannot be said for the Second Jessie War, which came to a head in August 2004. That sordid story, pitting the cyber-vets of WWIIOL against a pack of wannabe mobsters, is richly detailed in the archives of the Second Life (now Alphaville) Herald. The piece was written by Urizenus Sklar, who appears to have been indirectly involved, and who still owns land in Jessie.
Yes… technically, you can still “die” there (i.e., get teleported home when your “health” is reduced to zero). But nobody’s shooting now.