Second life is an online community… like myspace, with a virtual world built by users.
This game? is no joke for big companies including Wells Fargo, Amex, Walmart, Amazon etc..
Here are some articles..
Making a Living in Second Life
By Kathleen Craig| Also by this reporter
02:00 AM Feb, 08, 2006
Jennifer Grinnell, Michigan furniture delivery dispatcher turned fashion designer in cyber space, never imagined that she could make a living in a video game.
Grinnell’s shop, Mischief, is in Second Life, a virtual world whose users are responsible for creating all content. Grinnell’s digital clothing and “skins” allow users to change the appearance of their avatars — their online representations — beyond their wildest Barbie dress-up dreams.
Within a month, Grinnell was making more in Second Life than in her real-world job as a dispatcher. And after three months she realized she could quit her day job altogether.
Now Second Life is her primary source of income, and Grinnell, whose avatar answers to the name Janie Marlowe, claims she earns more than four times her previous salary.
Grinnell isn’t alone. Artists and designers, landowners and currency speculators, are turning the virtual environment of Second Life into a real-world profit center.
“It’s not just a game anymore,” said online artisan Kimberly Rufer-Bach. “There are businesses, nonprofits and universities” taking advantage of the online world.
With users now numbering over 130,000, game-maker Linden Lab estimates that nearly $5 million dollars, or about $38 per person, was exchanged between players in January 2006 alone. Working in Second Life is “the same as working in London and sending money home to pay the rent for your spouse,” said company CEO Philip Rosedale.
Just ask Rufer-Bach, known in Second Life as Kim Anubus, who works full time making virtual objects for real-life organizations. In a recent contract with the UC Davis Medical Center, Rufer-Bach created virtual clinics in Second Life to train emergency workers who might be called upon to rapidly set up medical facilities in a national crisis. The work is funded by the Centers for Disease Control. “In the event of a biological attack ? the CDC have to set up emergency 12-hour push sites, to distribute antibiotics,” said Rufer-Bach.
To create the most realistic simulation possible, Rufer-Bach crafted about 80 distinct objects, “from chairs (to) a forklift, plumbing, wiring,” she said. The end result is a training environment that’s not only lifelike, but relatively inexpensive. “There are substantial advantages to doing this training in the virtual world,” said UC Davis professor Peter Yellowlees. For one thing, it’s “incredibly cheaper.”
Of course, most of the business opportunities in Second Life don’t involve anything as weighty as medical training. The game has a significant market in specialized avatars: People pay as much as 2,200 in-game “Linden dollars,” or just over $8, for stock avatars — with custom work commanding prices that can go much higher. Rufer-Bach ordered a special avatar for her mother, “a knee-high lavender warthog, with a tiara and wings and a big fat spleef with smoke effects.”
The game world’s mixture of fancy and serious business can lead to some incongruous scenes. “We joke that you just don’t show up at a business meeting as a mermaid,” said Rufer-Bach. “One guy is a furry, with an animal head. Another’s a ball of glowing fuzz. There’s a giant two-story robot transformer.”
One they’ve perfected their look, Second Life immigrants who want to build virtual homes often purchase or rent land from entrepreneurs like Tony De Louise, from Long Island, New York, who gave up the meatspace rat race to become an online landlord. “I’ve worked two to three jobs most of my life,” said De Louise. Now, “instead of coming home at 10:30 at night, I’m home and can help my wife put our new baby to bed.”
De Louise and business partner Alice McKeon own d’Alliez Island Rentals, and now lease land on a chain of in-world islands they own. They pay Linden Labs $1,250 for each island, plus a $195 monthly maintenance fee. Renters in turn pay from $15 to $75 for average-size land parcels.
“We have three purely residential (islands), one purely commercial,” said De Louise, whose in-world name is Tony Beckett. “Two are for furries,” who prefer animal-like avatars.
The landowners act as benign dictators of their property, making sure the islands are calm and protected, and helping renters get started building their own homes or businesses.
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