The dominant virtual world today, Second Life is owned by Linden Lab, with founding visionary Philip Rosedale serving as current chairman of the board of directors. The user demographics resemble average web users, and Second Life "residents" spend widely varying amounts of time logged in or "in-world." I sat down with John Lester, the operations director of the Boston offices of Linden Lab, and he told me that the most important thing for a marketer who is new to Second Life to know is that it is not the Web, but a unique medium accessed through the Web. You're going to need to spend some time in-world to get to know the platform and the community.
John said that even Linden Lab doesn't know exactly how people are going to be using the platform, so you shouldn't worry if you don't, either. Companies such as IBM have leveraged Second Life to build internal tools to allow their globally dispersed workforce to gather and communicate, whereas Dell built an oversized computer that users can walk through, either alone or with other people, sharing their experiences along the way.
Figure 9-2 shows a screenshot of the Second Life sign-on screen.
Second Life financial transactions are conducted in Linden dollars (L$). Sold by Linden Lab for roughly L$265 per U.S. dollar, they can also be turned back into real-world money through Linden Lab and third-party brokers. Buildings in-world can be purchased for amounts equivalent to tens of U.S. dollars, and automobiles for ...