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Virtual World Business And Development Information

Second Life’s Potential for Virtual Consumer Marketing

Posted by SIM on April 23, 2007

Latest GMI Poll Reveals Second Life’s Potential for Virtual Consumer Marketing and Branding
PRWeb
April 23, 2007

The latest GMI Poll, powered by global market intelligence solutions provider GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.), found the virtual world of Second Life is a burgeoning market for real-life brands and product promotion. Fifty-six percent of users believe Second Life is a good promotional vehicle. Only 16 percent say they would not be more likely to buy or use a brand that is represented in the Internet-based virtual world. In Second Life, residents can explore, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another.

GMI interviewed 9,529 consumers, representing a broad sample of the U.S. population aged 18 and above. The interviews were conducted online among GMI’s permission-based consumer panel using GMI’s data collection software.

‘Second Life is still in its infancy, and nobody knows if this virtual world has true staying power or is just a fad,’ explained Michael Cai, director, broadband and gaming at Park Associates, a Dallas-based market research and consulting firm specializing in digital and connectivity products and services for the home. ‘What is clear from the GMI poll is that Second Life is a potential, untapped source for marketing and branding. The people at Linden Lab have the opportunity to build out a new platform for promotion, much like Yahoo and Google did for the internet.’

The poll also revealed that many Second Life users go to the virtual world to avoid reality. Twenty-four percent of respondents claim they go to Second Life to escape real life, which they are not satisfied with, while 64 percent present themselves differently. Additional findings include:

45 percent give themselves a more attractive body
37 percent make themselves younger
23 percent give themselves a different nationality
55 percent watch less television since becoming active in Second Life
22 percent have more Second Life friends than real-life friends
29 percent feel Second Life interferes with their real-world social life

About GMIPoll
The Second Life GMIPoll surveyed a total of 9,529 U.S. consumers between March 27th and April 9th, 2007 on the GMI platform. Additional Second Life polls were conducted in Australia, China, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. For more information about GMIPoll, please contact GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.) at info @ gmi-mr.com.

About GMI
GMI (Global Market Insite, Inc.) is the only provider of integrated solutions for global market intelligence for market research firms and Global 2,000 companies. Solutions include market research software, desktop analysis tools, 24x7x365 service bureau, and one of the world’s largest, highly profiled, double opted-in managed panels, providing reach to six million consumers in 200+ countries. Founded in 1999 with world headquarters in Seattle, Wash., GMI has operations on five continents. In 2006, the company ranked #93 in Inc. Magazine’s Inc. 500. For more information, please visit us online at http://www.gmi-mr.com or email us at info @ gmi-mr.com.

Media Contact:
GMI (Global Market Insite)
Cathy GOerz
(415) 321-1883

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Buying Land In Second Life

Posted by SIM on April 23, 2007

By Mitch Wagner,
Apr 23, 2007

At last, I bought land in Second Life to built my virtual home in. I’ve been shopping for more than a month, and couldn’t find a tract I fell in love with. I’m still not in love with the land I bought, but I like it.

It’s 1,008 square meters in Carnforth.

Why’d I buy that parcel? It’s got a gentle slope, and it’s near to the ocean. Also, I liked the look of the neighborhood: No obvious businesses, no obnoxious big ads, just bunch of houses with interesting architecture. All of that will give it a nice view.

The cost of the land: About US$40, plus US$5 per month maintenance fees (called “tier” fees in Second Life). If it turns out I don’t like the land, I expect I can sell it to someone else get my money back.

Why’d I buy land? The same reason I’ve had a personal space on the Web for more than 10 years, a home page which evolved into an online journal and then a blog. It’s a place where my friends and select business associates can connect with me, and it’s a place where I can play with the technology. I’m looking forward to getting started building in Second Life; I haven’t done any of that so far and it’s a major part of the fun of the virtual world.

Why didn’t I buy the land for InformationWeek? Couple of reasons, really: I think the tract is way too small for what we should do in InformationWeek, when we do decide to buy land in SL. Also, I expect my first efforts at building and landscaping in Second Life to be bad. It’s one thing to just be one guy learning to build in Second Life, and writing up my experiences on the InformationWeek Blog. It’s quite another thing to have this butt-ugly monstrosity sitting on IW land, with the IW brand on it, where passersby can look at it and get the idea we don’t know any better. We do know better; it’s just the purpose of this land is not to market InformationWeek; it’s to have a place where I can experiment and be bad at it, at least first.

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Gaia Online

Posted by SIM on April 21, 2007

Move over MySpace, Gaia Online is here
Written by Wagner James Au
Sunday, April 22, 2007

By the middle of last year, it was attracting half a million unique visitors monthly; fast forward to last month, and that number is two million. It’s not a traditional MMO like World of Warcraft; it’s not a social game like There; it doesn’t originate from Europe like Habbo Hotel or from Asia like Cyworld. You haven’t heard of it partly because the San Jose company has kept a low profile.

Another reason you’re still likely in the dark: it’s primarily designed for teens. But with online worlds all sizes and styles poised for an explosion, you’ll almost certainly hear a lot more about it soon.

It’s called Gaia Online, and as a guy on a giant crane behind us tore down the giant Web 2.0 conference banner in Moscone West, I had a chance to sit down with CEO Craig Sherman— formerly COO with Myfamily.com, and an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with Benchmark Capital, a main funder of Gaia— for a furious round of questioning. How did Gaia grow so large so quickly so stealthily?

“The world’s fastest growing online world hangout for teens.”

That’s the way Sherman and his team prefer to characterize Gaia, the brainchild of Studio XD, a comic art firm which gave the site its anime-influenced look. Gaia’s online world aspect (which launches in a separate Java-powered window) is a series of virtual towns where Gaian avatars can socialize (up to 100 in a single space), with apartments they can own, and treasures they can find. (No combat, however.) It’s just that 10% of total user activity takes place in the world itself.

Gaia’s Many Experience Channels

The world is just a conduit to the larger activity on Gaia, says Sherman: in addition, there are website arenas where users can upload and rate each other’s artwork and other content (7-10% total activity), or play multiplayer Flash mini-games with group chat (10-15% total activity.) The largest cohort of activity (wholly 30%) takes place in the Gaia forums, and here’s where the truly staggering numbers come in: Averaging a million posts a day and a billion posts so far, Gaia’s message boards (with topics running the gamut from pop culture to politics) is second only to Yahoo in popularity.

Gold for Activity

A unique innovation is the way the company distributes its virtual gold currency: instead of selling it for real money (as with There) or allowing its trade on the open market (as with Second Life), Gaians are automatically given gold for participation: You get gold for posting on the Forums, for riding events, for uploading content, for exploring the world. Subscribers are rewarded for engaging in Gaia, in other words— and the reward incents them to engage in Gaia even more.

Gold for Auction

With the gold, Gaia subscribers can buy items, clothing, and accessories for their avatars, some sold by the company, but most of it sold via Gaian-to-Gaian auction. (They estimate some 52,000 auctions are completed every day.)

What pays in Gaia, however, stays in Gaia: the company strongly discourages real money trading, and works with Ebay to curtail it. That’s not to say Gaian treasures haven’t been sold online. “One item sold for $6000,” says Sherman. “Wonderful to tell you, but bad for what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Gold— for Gaia Interactive, Inc.

Instead of monthly subscriptions, Gaia Online sells “rare items”— treasures, fantastically cool fashion accessories for player avatars, and so on— two offered a month for $2.50 each. Subscribers buy them via credit card, Pay Pay, cellphone—or cash on the barrel. (“We employ someone full time whose job is getting dollars and quarters” out of envelopes kids send them, Sherman notes.)

… but first, a world for our sponsors

The company’s other revenue source are ad campaigns created to run within the world of Gaia. Before launching these, Sherman says, they solicited subscriber feedback, to find out which potential advertisers they wanted to see in the world— and which they didn’t. (Cool fashion brands got the majority nod; big American auto companies, however, didn’t.)

Staffers work with advertisers to create, not passive billboards, but an extended immersive experience. Gaia’s campaign for New Line Cinema’s fantasy adventure The Last Mimzy, for example, challenged their users to accomplish a series of tasks in order to get their own special Gaian-only Mimzy (a super-intelligent bunny). Hundreds of thousands of these Mimzyies were given out—meaning some 10-20% of their total user base jumped through the hoops to win the advertiser’s prize. (By contrast, when Nissan began giving away virtual versions of their cars in Second Life, far less than 1% of Residents took them up on the offer.)

The Secret to Gaia’s Success

Craig Sherman has been thinking what the value-proposition of his site in the era of MySpace or Facebook. “In a world where teens are constantly branding and packaging themselves” on sites like those, he points out, “Gaia is where you get away from it all.”

Whether that remains the case when the competition reaches full roil remains to be seen, but for now, the Gaia seems destined to keep growing.

The Gaia Numbers: Demographics and Usage Patterns as of April 2007

300,000 log in daily, according to the company; average unique visit is two hours a day.

Average concurrency: 64,000 users. Maximum: 86,738.

85% of users are based in the US

10% are English-speaking but non-US (with 5% a nebulous Other)

Breakdown by gender: 55% Girls – 45% Boys

About 20% of subscribers put up their real life photo in their avatar profile.

Number of Gaia gold “millionaires”, as of last week: 1385

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Second Life Helps Generate Second Income

Posted by SIM on April 19, 2007

More and more entrepreneurs making money in virtual world
By Christina Friedrichsen – Business Edge
04/20/2007  

When Vancouver fashion designer Nyla experienced Second Life for the first time, she knew that she was on to something.

Nyla (she dropped her last name), owner of House of Nyla, a company that specializes in haute couture for women, was looking for a unique way to showcase her designs and Second Life seemed like the perfect place.

Not only would the online virtual world give her a place to create a 3-D virtual boutique so that customers could see her fashions on 3-D models, it would give her exposure to thousands of people who had never heard of her.

She invested $100 in virtual real estate and was well on her way to creating an online presence in Second Life when she realized that the potential for her company was much bigger than she had dreamed.

What Nyla realized was that Second Lifers are an image-conscious lot and that fashion plays a big role in how avatars (virtual beings) express their identity.

Why not transform real-world fashions from House of Nyla into virtual clothing in Second Life?

Although Nyla is not a graphic designer, she taught herself the computer programs she needed to make it happen.

In the one year that Nyla has made the leap to Second Life, she has opened a dozen virtual stores and is making a living from the income.

Nyla still designs fashions for real life, but her virtual fashions are becoming an increasingly large part of her business.

“I’m making a lot of money … It’s like a virtual slot machine,” says Nyla, who is a graduate from Helen Lefeaux Inc. School of Fashion Design in Vancouver.

At her busier stores, she is getting 100,000 Second Lifers per day and is selling hundreds of items per week.

Her virtual dresses sell for $6 each.

She says one can “make good money here and live off it no problem. This could pay all your bills, your mortgage, everything,” she says.

Her plans include a line of virtual men’s clothing based on the real-life clothing line she has created for her husband.

Nyla is part of an increasing number of entrepreneurs generating income from virtual worlds such as Second Life.

Although many of the individuals make money from creating virtual items, such as clothing, hair or houses, the big money is in real estate and sex (avatars can work as escorts and strippers, and individuals can design sexual props for Second Life), says Julian Dibbell, author of Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot (Basic Books: 2006).

Dibbell’s book is a memoir about the year he gave up his job as a journalist to make a living buying and selling virtual artifacts in the game Ultima Online.

His goal was to make more income in-world than as a freelance writer. He succeeded.

“By the end I was making $4,000 per month. I could have sustained that and probably would be making more than I do as a writer,” says the Indiana-based author.

A decent living, yes, but nowhere close to the income generated by virtual real estate tycoons such as Second Life’s Anshe Chung, the world’s first virtual millionaire.

According to Dibbell, developers such as Chung purchase “raw” virtual land from Linden Lab (the company behind Second Life) that they use to create virtual communities, usually with a theme. The developers then sell or rent this developed land to Second Lifers.

Although there is money to be made in Second Life real estate, few are as successful as Chung, says Dibbell.

“There are very few making the kind of money Anshe Chung is making,” he says.

Most entrepreneurs on Second Life make just enough to cover their Second Life expenses and maybe “go on an extra vacation each year,” he says.

“For them, the money is not the point in many cases,” he says.

Dibbell says the most successful entrepreneurs, such as Anshe Chung, know what Second Lifers want.

“(Chung) has a keen sense of what people want in Second Life and what they are there for,” he says.

Adam Gillis knows what Second Lifers want.

Gillis, a student at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, is taking a semester off to work full time for Galveston.com and Company, a tourism company in Galveston, Tex.

The company has hired him to create a virtual representation of Galveston Island in Second Life.

“It is the first SIM (simulator) commissioned by an official tourism agency, recreating the city of Galveston within Second Life,” he says.

Gillis says Galveston.com and Company approached him after seeing a virtual representation of Ottawa’s Winterlude festival that he created for Second Life last year.

“They saw it and hired me on the spot,” says Gillis.

Gillis, who is also a photographer, says he started out in Second Life showcasing his photography in a virtual gallery.

Not only did he hope to get exposure, his motive was to make money selling virtual photos to Second Lifers who would purchase the digital images to hang in their virtual homes.

“I sold some, but not to the point where it was worth it,” he says. After that, he began designing virtual homes for Second Lifers. As he honed his designing skills, more and more people approached him for custom work.

In January of this year he began working on the Galveston Island project for Galveston.com and Company.

“From the planning to the building, I’ve pretty much done all of it,” he says, adding that his wage is comparable to a designer at a design firm.

Gillis says the company behind the project is hoping that the virtual world attracts tourists to the area.

“They are looking for a way for people to sample the city – to go and get the feel of it, the vibe of it … and to make plans to actually go there,” he says.

Gillis says for those who aren’t ready to pack their bags, there is the option of renting a virtual home on the island for $10 per month.

“We’re already at 95-per-cent capacity,” says Gillis.

As for Gillis, he’s heading there this summer. In real life. For real money.

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Second Life For Developers

Posted by SIM on April 18, 2007

Learn About Second Life For Developers And Business At The Life 2.0 Summit Late This Month
By Mitch Wagner,
Apr 18, 2007

If you’re a developer or businessperson interested in learning more about the opportunities in Second Life, my colleagues at Dr. Dobb’s Journal have the conference for you: the Life 2.0 Summit, running April 28 to May 4, both in Second Life and simulcast to the Web.

It’s looking like a great conference. Check out the complete calendar. for event times and details, read on for the complete overview.

Things start off Saturday and Sunday with eight hours of tutorials for advanced developers using the Second Life programming language, Linden Scripting Language.

Saturday night you can get a tour of Second Life’s most impressive locations, and Sunday at the same time, you can get a tour of SL’s most impressive and beautiful objects, demonstrated by their creators.

Monday: Two-hour panel on Second Life as a platform, looking at technology trends, plans to open-source the platform, and other likely changes.

Later, there’ll be a keynote by Mitch Kapor, a director at Linden Lab, and investor and advisor to tech companies. Kapor was founder and CEO of Lotus Development, and designed Lotus 1-2-3, the most popular spreadsheet of its day until it was eclipsed by Microsoft Excel. He co-founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Tuesday: Two-hour panel on the three-D user interface, followed by a keynote by Linden Lab founder and CEO Philip Rosedale.

Wednesday: No daytime programs because Wednesdays are when Linden Lab usually schedules its “rolling restart,” shutting down Second Life a couple of hours for maintenance. In the evening: A costume party with live DJs and entertainment.

Thursday: Panel on business in Second Life, moderated by Yrs Trly, in the form of his avatar Ziggy Figaro.

Friday: Games in Second Life. as tools for market testing and branding.

Evening events: According to the schedule: “A full schedule of evening programs, including informative guided tours, wallet-depleting shopping sprees, and (mostly) safe and (maybe 80%) wholesome late-night entertainment, will be offered on Mon-Tue and Thur-Fri, beginning at 7 PM SLT (PT).”

The conference will also include a career center, and a show floor.

Register here http://www.life20.net/register.php

Because of Second Life capacity issues, attendance in SL will be limited, but people can also attend on the Web site, and be able to chat with people attending in-world. Tickets to in-world attendance are being distributed by random drawings. Register right away — the earlier you register, the more drawings you can participate in.

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VirtualThirst.com

Posted by SIM on April 17, 2007

Coke Opens VirtualThirst.com In Second Life
by Tobi Elkin
Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007

DIVING INTO THE VIRTUAL WATERS, Coca-Cola officially entered Second Life, issuing an invitation to avatars as well as the general public to submit ideas for a portable virtual vending machine.

The design competition invites people to submit designs to http://www.virtualthirst.com for a chance to win a grand prize of building and launching the ultimate vending machine with the help of 3-D design shop Millions of Us.

Design entries will be accepted through a variety of formats and submission methods, including submissions within Second Life, YouTube and MySpace.

Submission guidelines for each and contest rules appear on MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/virtualthirst, as well as on “crayonville Island” in Second Life. The entry deadline is May 25.

Coke’s initiation into Second Life was spearheaded by marketing consultancy crayon, which devised the strategy for the soft drink marketer and helped it tap an advisory council made up of Second Life residents and designers which will select the winner of the competition.

The grand-prize winner will get to introduce the virtual vending machine at an in-world party; residents will also be able to buy the machine. The Virtual Thirst contest represents Coke’s first big experiment within Second Life.

“Our goal is to enable individual creativity in pursuit of a ‘vending’ machine that can exist only in your wildest imagination,” said Michael Donnelly, director, global interactive marketing, Coke.

Donnelly said the “Virtual Thirst” platform has a lot of legs–and is something that could be extended into offline media, as well as into portable media-games, wireless and other emerging platforms.

The concept could eventually tie in to or complement Coke’s current campaign “The Coke Side of Life.” He said the Second Life play is a learning experience.

“It isn’t any kind of reach play, it’s about learning about how to better market.” And he also noted that since the relaunch of Coke.com, the brand is striving to reposition itself around self-expression and creativity.

Coke isn’t the only brand dabbling in Second Life. Boutique agency Campfire established an ongoing presence and sophisticated set of experiences more than a year ago for GM’s Pontiac brand.

Campfire came up with Pontiac’s Motorati Island, where there are participating dealers, auto enthusiast groups, live sponsored concerts, racing events and more. The tie-in with SL was designed to promote the Solstice GXP sports car. Recently, Campfire teamed with Pontiac and Leo Burnett to offer a real-world Motorati experience at the New York Auto Show; big screens at the Show offered an in-world glimpse in real-time.

At Coke, Donnelly noted that the winning design could lead to futuristic concepts of what the brand’s real-world machines will look like: “That is part of our strategy. How do we take our old world vending machines and make them relevant to our customers?”

Joe Jaffe, president, crayon, said Coke’s approach in SL is understated. Coke held a press conference in-world to announce the competition on Monday. “It’s just one event in-world–25 people attended, but it’s a seed,” Jaffe said. “Our advice was to start small and then build conversation around the small idea. That’s the long tail of creativity.”

Jaffe continued: “This is less about a Second Life project and more about being able to take the whole concept of thirst and position it as a thirst for meaning, knowledge, love, self-expression and a thirst for an experience.”

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Big Spenders of Second Life

Posted by SIM on April 14, 2007

Virtual world residents shell out real dollars for nonexistent clothes, cars, and real estate. Will real-world luxury brands capitalize?
by Douglas MacMillan

Alyssa LaRoche is rolling in Linden dollars, the hard currency of virtual world Second Life. Sure, the money is digital, but it can be exchanged for real U.S. greenbacks, or any other currency for that matter.

Under the alias Aimee Weber, LaRoche designs clothes, plans events, and helps companies set up shop in the virtual world for big consulting fees. But when she recently opened up her checkbook to pay for her avatar’s virtual wedding (yes, it’s a common occurrence), she made a discovery that brought her back to reality: In Second Life, there’s no such thing as a diamond wedding ring.

The problem, you see, is that rare and precious stones as we know them can’t exist in Second Life. That’s because once purchased these items can be easily duplicated, undercutting the basis of their market value. Some virtual jewelers make cubic zirconium rings and earrings that shine convincingly, but you won’t find diamond baubles dangling from the necks and ears of avatars.

Linden Loot

Since there is little economic value assigned to rare items in this online world, sprawling estates and lavish sports cars abound as signs of wealth, or at least for those who are status conscious, as a means of keeping score. (Not too different from the real world.)

“Everyone [in Second Life] is a luxury consumer,” says Reuben Steiger, CEO of virtual world marketing consultant MillionsOfUs. “Very few people go into a virtual world and decide they’re a hobo.” Even virtual hobos wouldn’t have it so bad, since in Second Life having bread on your plate and a shelter over your head are hardly essential.

Bumming around in a virtual world is fun for some, but the vast majority of Second Life residents buy and sell user-generated goods and services, and keep their pockets stuffed with Linden dollars. Virtual currency is bought and sold on Lindex—a currency exchange Web site where users buying in are automatically hooked up with users cashing out.

Last February more than $5 million (that’s Uncle Sam currency) changed hands on Lindex alone. Like real-world currency, conversion rates fluctuate with the economy—as of this writing, $1 is worth 267 Linden dollars.

And just like in real life, if you’re a connoisseur of luxury goods you need to have a fair amount of dinero. In Second Life, there’s evidence of some big spenders.

Last March more than 800 users spent over 1 million Linden dollars, or about $4,000. Ailin Graef, the virtual real estate mogul (see BusinessWeek.com, 5/1/06, “My Virtual Life”) who last November claimed to be the first Second Life-made millionaire, says there is a market for high-priced, high-quality design in homes and other virtual commodities. “There is no real upper limit when it comes to people spending money on art, self-expression, and uniqueness,” she says.

The highest-priced home in Dreamland, her popular residential community in Second Life, goes for about $420. However, she says some “well-off individuals” have paid more than $10,000 for virtual properties.

Status Symbols

Merely living in a big house or wearing a fur coat isn’t enough to stand out from the crowd, so the top spenders look for items with meticulously programmed designs, textures, and animations. Philip Rosedale, CEO of San Francisco-based Second Life creator Linden Lab, has the power, money, and influence to get his hands on just about anything he wants in the virtual world. When asked what personal possession his avatar, Philip Linden, holds most dear, he says he’s most amazed by clever little objects, like virtual wind chimes.

“Think about that for a moment,” he writes in an e-mail, “virtual wind chimes.” Second Life merchants sell wind chimes with lifelike movement and sound, but at about 50 cents, they’re hardly an indulgence in luxury.

A few entrepreneurs have honed in on this demand for uniqueness and quality better than others. A mysterious resident named Starax Stotasky earned notoriety in Second Life from sales of his Starax Wand, a magical object that conjured eagles, demons, and dozens of other fanciful creations.

It sold in limited production for between $60 and $120, and because of its complexity was impossible to duplicate. Yet many residents abused the powers the wand granted—like summoning buildings on somebody else’s land—and new laws were created that rendered it obsolete.

Even though Second Life residents can fly from place to place rather than drive, cars are a popular and cheap commodity—you can buy Scions and Pontiacs for about $1. But an avatar that went by the name of Francis Chung brought to market the Dominus Shadow, a retro two-seater created with painstaking detail both inside and out. At about $40, it’s the most expensive car to be sold in Second Life and an envied status symbol among residents.

Real World Infiltration
The past year has seen a deluge of entertainment, media, apparel, and automotive brands from the real world establishing a promotional presence in Second Life. But seeing little potential in the young, technology-oriented demographic, makers of luxury goods have largely stayed on the sidelines.

That may change if two upscale fashion brands, Lacoste and Calvin Klein, succeed in stirring up profits in their current Second Life campaigns. The French alligator-logo shirt maker recently announced an avatar modeling contest in which the six finalists will share a prize of 1 million Linden dollars.

And to help promote its new CK IN2U fragrance, Calvin Klein has begun distributing “virtual scents,” which make fragrance bubbles dance around happy-in-love Second Life residents. Next up: diamond rings?

To see a slide show of Second Life’s top earners: http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/04/0416_richlist/index_01.htm

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Brazilian Airline Takes Flight In Second Life

Posted by SIM on April 12, 2007

TAM will offer avatars gifts for users to take virtual flights to islands called Milan, Paris, New York and England.
April 12 2007

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) — Brazil’s TAM said it is about to become the first airline to promote itself in the Second Life online virtual world by offering cyberspace flights that correspond to its real-world international service.

Second Life, created by U.S.-based Linden Lab, has millions of registered users and its own economy and currency, known as the Linden dollar, which can be exchanged for U.S. dollars.

TAM said Thursday it will offer avatars – users’ 3-D representations that, ironically, can fly on their own – gifts to take virtual TAM flights to Second Life islands called Milan, Paris, New York and England.

The islands represent the leading Brazilian airline’s actual international destinations.

“Of course, avatars can fly there on their own, or we can take them there, free of charge, for which they get frequent flier points and gifts like a virtual aircraft or clothes,” a company spokesman said ahead of TAM’s Second Life launch Friday.

Coldwell Banker’s Second Life

A TAM lounge will be set up on Second Life’s Berrini Island, where avatars will be greeted by a virtual pilot and a flight attendant.

“It’s more of an institutional marketing tool, for people to learn about the airline’s destinations, and for us to be present in this new online fever,” the spokesman said.

Several companies are already active in Second Life, including Japanese car maker Toyota (Charts), IBM (Charts) and Reuters Group Plc (Charts), which has a virtual news bureau there.

TAM said some 200,000 Brazilians use Second Life (secondlife.com), the virtual world’s fourth-biggest community by country.

TAM ended last month with a 51.7 percent share of Brazil’s air travel market. It flies to 48 cities in Latin America’s largest country and to various places abroad.

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Virtual Call Centers

Posted by SIM on April 11, 2007

The Future of Call Centers May Be in Virtual Worlds
11 April 2007

As brands such as Adidas, Dell, Reuters and Toyota break ground in Second Life, some marketers say the virtual world could one day become the frontline for customer contact, writes Silicon.com.

PA Consulting, which has offices in Second Life, says simply having an office to respond to customer queries is not enough. Real people must staff the virtual offices. It says call centers could one day ask customers to follow up a phone call by moving the query into a virtual world.

And instead of being placed on hold to enjoy muzak, virtual world visitors could make more profitable use of their time – talking to other inhabitants, viewing videos and reading information, for example.

Moreover, by using avatars, a whole new customer services workforce can be mustered – those who need to work from home, say, or mothers with young children. And customers’ prejudices against call center staffers who have certain accents wouldn’t come into play.

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10 Fun Things To Do In Second Life

Posted by SIM on April 10, 2007

10 Fun Things To Do In Second Life That Aren’t Embarrassing If Your Priest Or Rabbi Finds Out
By Mitch Wagner
Apr 10, 2007

I get frustrated hearing people talk about how Second Life isn’t entertaining, or it’s only useful for advertising to “freaks,”, “furries, ageplay perverts and prank-loving adolescents.” I finally decided to put together a list of things to do in Second Life, as a resource for people curious about the game, and also as something I can point to next time I read one of those misguided attacks.

I don’t really blame the people who think there’s nothing to do in Second Life. One of the areas where Second Life is weakest is in introducing newcomers to the world. The user interface is confusing, and, worse, once you’ve got that mastered, it’s hard to figure out what to do. The newbie is confronted with an array of cybersex areas, online casinos, and sleazy make-money-fast schemes. But, once you get past that initial barrier, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Second Life.

This list is a first draft. I plan to update it over time with links, more detailed information, and screen captures, while keeping it short, so it’s useful as a fast, informative read for the curious, and a quick guide to newbies. Watch the Second Life category of this blog for notices of significant updates.

Here’s the list of things to do:

Talk to other people. I interviewed one Second Life skeptic who dismissed SL, saying it’s just a chatroom with graphics.

But that’s actually one of its strengths.

I have very little patience with IRC and chatrooms on the 2D Internet, but the 3D nature of Second Life allows me to suspend disbelief and be somewhere else, not at my desk staring at a screen.

I can chat in Second Life for quite some time, exchanging jokes or having deeper discussions with friends.

Dancing. Here’s how it works: You send your avatar off to a SL dance club or bar. There’s music playing — it’s streaming audio that plays over your PC speakers. Everybody hears the same music. You click on a “dance ball,” and away you go — your avatar starts dancing, with all the other dancing avatars. Sure, it looks silly, but that’s part of the fun. And while you’re dancing, you’re engaged in text chat with the other dancers around you.

So there you are, in a chatroom while watching interesting graphics and chatting with pleasant people. What’s not to like?

I’ve become a regular at a place called … well, actually, I won’t say the name here, because the guy who told me about it asked me not to publish it in an article. If you’re interested in the name, send me an e-mail at mwagner@cmp.com and I’ll let you know. Meanwhile I’ll e-mail the guy who turned me on to the place to see if he’d be willing to release me from my confidentiality agreement.

Building and creating things. Earlier this month, I attended the O’Reilly ETech Emerging Technology Conference, and sat at a lunch table with some of the brightest minds in Web 2.0. They were dismissive of Second Life, which I’ve learned to expect from people who aren’t regulars in SL.

One of the people at the table was Cory Doctorow, blogger,, cyber-civil-libertarian, science-fiction writer and all-around smart guy. Wouldn’t it be swell (Cory mused) if there was a game called “World of Craft,” where you made things? Sure, there’s craft in World of Warcraft and Everquest, but it’s really just repetitive mousing and clicking, not involving real thought or creativity. What if you could really build things in-game, and that was the whole point of the game?

That game exists. It’s Second Life.

People spend huge amounts of time in Second Life building and scripting houses and furniture and especially clothing and avatars. Users write scripts to control haw the avatar moves. They create vehicles to drive or fly around or through Second Life.

They give a lot of this stuff away, and sell a lot of it too. Which leads me to…

Doing business. You can make real-world money in Second Life. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. Most of the people in business in Second Life aren’t making any significant amounts of money at all. Business is a game in Second Life.

The amounts of money changing hands are mostly pretty small. You can buy a nice suit of clothes in SL for about a buck and a quarter American. You can buy a house for less than ten bucks.

Doing business in Second Life has many of the same benefits that it has in the real world. To do business, you have to talk to other people. In SL as in RL, you have to find a place to sell your stuff, you have to advertise it and market it, you have to deal with customers.

Consider a Second Life dance hall: Somebody built it (more likely a team of somebodys). They employ DJs, spinning music over streaming audio. The dance hall will employ hosts and hostesses to make guests feel welcome. There are often people who work security, to guard against in-world pranksters, known as “griefers.” All these people are building community by talking and working together and having fun.

The employees — DJs, hosts and hostesses, and security guards — generally make only a nominal amount of money. Like the business owners, they’re mostly in it for fun, role-playing at having jobs.

Shopping. With all those people building clothes and avatars and vehicles and things, Second Life has plenty of shops, and you can while away many pleasant hours committing SL retail. I like to do it alone, but many people do it with friends, same as shopping in the real world.

Role-playing games: The Second Life variety of RPG is half improvisational theater, and half re-enactment (like Civil War re-enactors in real life). Players behave and move in character, and interact with each other. Examples: Midian is sort of like Sin City or Bladerunner with vampires and hellhounds. The activity in Midian sometimes involves cybersex, so be warned.

Roma is a re-enactment of the pageantry, holidays, and gladiator combat of ancient Rome.

Tombstone recreates the cowboy town of Tombstone, Ariz., at the time of the gunfight at the OK Corral.

Other kinds of games. You can find WoW/Everquest style fantasy games in SL, as well as shoot-em-ups, and even quidditch, from the Harry Potter novels. The other night, while wandering around SL, I found a delightful bowling alley, with one of those futuristic space-age signs that were so popular in the real world in the 1950s.

See the sights. Sightseeing is one of my favorite things to do. Just wander around Second Life, exploring and looking at all the beautiful things users have built.

How do you know where to go?

Well, you can ask people — and that gets back to the very first item on our list, talking to other people.

The SL search tool, which is part of the software client, has a list of popular places, along with their coordinates. You can also search on keywords.

When you’re going somewhere, don’t take the most direct route. Wander and look around a bit.

Or just click places on the game map at random and see where you end up.

Sailing. The Nantucket Yacht Club and other in-game venues offer sailing in Second Life. Capture the virtual winds and cruise around the world. I actually haven’t been sailing yet, but it’s extremely popular.

Surfing. You can get a virtual surfboard in Second Life and hang ten on the digital waves. I did this once, and have been meaning to go back and keep it up; it’s fun.

What do you like to do in Second Life? What do you recommend to newbies? Leave a comment below, or IM me in-game, I’m Ziggy Figaro. (Heck, leave a comment and IM me; I’m a tough guy, I can take it.)

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