New York Times is:
It has a population of a million. The “people” there make friends, build homes and run businesses. They also play sports, watch movies and do a lot of other familiar things. They even have their own currency, convertible into American dollars.
But residents also fly around, walk underwater and make themselves look beautiful, or like furry animals, dragons, or practically anything — or anyone — they wish.
But now, the budding fake world is not only attracting a lot more people, it is taking on a real world twist: big business interests are intruding on digital utopia. The Second Life online service is fast becoming a three-dimensional test bed for corporate marketers, including Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sun Microsystems, Nissan, Adidas/Reebok, Toyota and Starwood Hotels.
The sudden rush of real companies into so-called virtual worlds mirrors the evolution of the Internet itself, which moved beyond an educational and research network in the 1990’s to become a commercial proposition — but not without complaints from some quarters that the medium’s purity would be lost.
Already, the Internet is the fastest-growing advertising medium, as traditional forms of marketing like television commercials and print advertising slow. For businesses, these early forays into virtual worlds could be the next frontier in the blurring of advertising and entertainment.
Unlike other popular online video games like World of Warcraft that are competitive fantasy games, these sites meld elements of the most popular forms of new media: chat rooms, video games, online stores, user-generated content sites like YouTube.com and social networking sites like MySpace.com.
I highly recommend you click and read – there’s much more there about the real companies actually beginning to do real business there, about the model Second Life uses to make money, and about the tax implications of buying and selling virtual assets. It’s been around for years, but clearly it’s going mainstream now.
Book recommendation: Snowcrash – Neal described all this over a decade ago, in a more real and practical and way than anyone else has, including the model of how VR real estate and VR business and VR lifestyle will be making gigabucks. And if you don’t grok how and why that’s happening, and how soon it will – well, log on. Start with WoW and Second Life and EQ2. 🙂
As if NYT yesterday wasn’t enough, there was also Wired:
Second Life residents are spending $7 million a month on digital goods and services. If you’re wondering what people do in a world with no levels, no score, no set challenges or quests, perhaps a clue may be found in some of the 15 terabytes of user-created content being bought and sold within the virtual world.
Linden Lab, Second Life‘s publisher, estimates that the total amount of content being created by its users is equivalent to the output of 5,100 full-time programmers. And it doesn’t pay them. Rather, these content creators pay Linden Lab, for the land needed to build their creations and for the stores or islands where they display their goods.
Have you seen my previous blog post about user-created content? Remember megatrends? This is a gigatrend. And it’s just getting started.
The article presents a bunch of that user-created content – and includes YouTube (user-created again) videos of them in action – including a real-time chat translator that currently supports 10 languages!!! The article also features a new bit of technology for us to cogitate on: SLURLS which can teleport you directory to that content in the game. So you can buy it, of course. And if you have a Second Life, of course.
So: paying attention to Second Life yet?