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Virtual World, Real Money 128

BusinessWeek's cover story for May 1st has to do with a little place called Second Life. BusinessWeek Online has several stories related to their exploration on online living. My Virtual Life is a first-time exploration of Second Life, with some examination of the property and financial aspects of the gameworld. It's Not All Fun and Games explores the serious side of virtual businesses, as they interview Ashne Chung (notable real estate baron) in a piece called Virtual Land, Real Money. Ed Castronova has his say in a more general article on virtual economies. Finally, for an outside perspective, the obligatory Terra Nova discussion is always useful.
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Virtual World, Real Money

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  • I hereby (Score:5, Funny)

    by UniXY ( 888820 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @03:49PM (#15192227)
    stake this first post as virtual property... get with me after this and we can negotiate a pice.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @03:50PM (#15192240)
    Second Life itself is, last I checked, still not making a profit. Funny, seems like Linden Labs are the only people unable to make money off of their own creation.
    • I'd be curious to see, because for what they're charging I don't see how theyre not making money
    • They just got $11 million in venture capital, so they're not going out of business soon.
    • by Lordfly ( 590616 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:06PM (#15192348) Homepage Journal
      They're growing, which is why they aren't making money. They're adding about a programmer every week or two, not to mention a ton of part-time liasons (in-world helpers) and support staff.

      If they stopped expanding their payroll they'd be in the black very quickly.
    • seems like Linden Labs are the only people unable to make money off of their own creation

      Nope. Most people in Second Life don't make any money off of it. There are very few who make significant money there, and a mere smattering who can quit their day job to live off their virtual job. Linden Lab keeps changing the rules in SL to favor the businessfolks who are trying to make money in virtual businesses, but it's slow to build up an economy from scratch. And then there's the problem that when they shift
      • by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @05:26PM (#15192969)
        Second Life may not end up taking the world by storm, but it raises some interesting issues. What happens if the total value of goods and services in an online world- its gross domestic product (GDP)- starts exceeding that of, say, small African nations? That idea sounds laughable, but when you consider the billions of dollars involved in movies, music, and video games, it seems more like an inevitability than a possibility. Then what happens? If someone pisses off your Clan by using cheats, do you launch a war against their country, or just an embargo? I'm being a bit facetious here, but you could imagine that a large online community could potentially be a force to reckon with. They might be virtual, but their dollars are real, and that would give them power.

        The problem with creating artificial communities of course is that what starts out as a fun exercise in anarchy quickly starts needing rules, just like its real counterpart. Otherwise, people start abusing the system. Multiplayer FPS quickly lose popularity when you've got a handful of people using cheats, and as the reporter found, it's kind of annoying when someone decides to build on top of the virtual property you bought. So you need systems to keep stuff in check, feedbacks like Slashdots moderation system, or something analogous. Of course, if it goes too far with the regulation and ordering, then you're right back where you started: a highly restrictive environment, which is what you went online to get away from.

        • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2006 @02:22AM (#15194879)
          Second Life may not end up taking the world by storm, but it raises some interesting issues. What happens if the total value of goods and services in an online world- its gross domestic product (GDP)- starts exceeding that of, say, small African nations?

          Dear Sir or Madam,

          My name is Humbert Rumpledunk and I am a successful Real Estate Baron on Second (2nd) Life. Recently I sold property worth One Hundred Million Linden Dollars (L$100,000,000,000.00). However, because of a computer error, I am unable to withdraw the funds properly. If you ingame message me your user name, password, and bank information, I will send your account the money, withdraw it, and electronically transfer 90% to me, leaving you 10% (Ten Million Linden Dollars) as a fee for service. Your discretion is requested.

        • Everquest is already there [flatrock.org.nz].
        • Of course, if it goes too far with the regulation and ordering, then you're right back where you started: which is what you went online to get away from.

          No problem - Just go login to the over-regulated, mundane world of Second Life, turn on your virtual PC, & sign up here [thirdlife.com].

        • Very good point.

          Once money is involved, people have a vested interest in doing well within the game. This breeds creativity. Unfortunately, much of this creativity is used toward finding other ways of making money that are easier than actually working for it. This is human nature; it can't be avoided. Now there exist thousands of people trying to make real money in a virtual environment. This is scary.

          It is scary because the virtual environment doesn't have the same controls that the real world has (Ph
          • > The most obvious example is death and physical pain. Think about how many choices are made in the world directly to avoid death or physical pain. This doesn't exist in Second Life.

            This isn't really a valid analysis, since you're simply trying to inject "first life" rules into Second Life, and there's no logical reason for that. Sure, you can't starve to death, but you can very certainly deplete your bank account in the game, leaving yourself without the means to enjoy the game in many ways. The wo
    • This is great stuff. while SL might not be turning a profit YET, it shows the potential for companies to participate in the commercial side of the virtual world. I think there's money to be made here. A colleague saw a presentation by John Seely-Brown a couple weeks back that spoke to this referenced in this post: http://mondaymorning.typepad.com/monday_morning/ [typepad.com]
    • Where and when did you "last check" ? I know from the public comments of various LindeLab employees that SecondLife is returning a profit for them. I agree that the company, in its entirety, is losing money, but their main product is beneficial.
    • Probably not making a profit because it is not worth paying for. Terrible game play and terrible interface.
    • There is a simple answer to that problem. Taxes! Add a VAT tax an all their funding problems are solved.
  • Snowcrash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ecklesweb ( 713901 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @03:51PM (#15192244)
    Man, I need to go back and re-read Snowcrash. Apparently the metaverse is upon us. (I guess that's a blinding flash of the obvious).
    • There are at least a hundred or so avatars with the first name "Hiro" there.
    • Despite the press it gets on Slashdot for some reason, there are really very few people that give a shit about Second Life. The total number of people active in Second Life is maybe (maybe) as much as a single World of Warcraft server. Of WoW servers there's like 88 in the US alone, never mind the ones in other countries. While Second Life is certianly somewhat analogus to the metaverse Stephnson talks about, it's not the same thing. It's not populated by the technological elite, it's populated by some busi
      • Incorrect on a few counts :)

        The total number of people that've signed up is a bit over half a million. Yeah, still tiny. But still.

        Anyway, the peak concurrency rate is about 6000 people. This is similar to a single shard of World of Warcraft. But consider that there are no "shards" in SL.

        Finally, the community keeps poking Linden Labs to release actual user data, and they finally came out and said that there were 60,000 unique accounts that logged in at least once in the last 30 days. So a bit smaller than
      • It's not populated by the technological elite, it's populated by some businessmen and some people with more money than sense.

        hah! They should just call it furrylife. businessmen... lawl.

      • It's only one virtual world of many and it is not even close to the biggest. To the best of my knowledge, less than 200,000 people have ever signed up to use it.

        In the most recent Town Hall, Peter Linden remarked that they've almost hit 1,000,000 signups.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 24, 2006 @03:53PM (#15192249)
    ...what's the price of a condo in a decent online community? I'm considering emigrating; looking for a good neighbourhood, easy commute and reasonable taxes.
    • by jasonhamilton ( 673330 ) <jason&tyrannical,org> on Monday April 24, 2006 @05:29PM (#15192990) Homepage
      SL isn't nearly as great as it's made out to be in the media. Even their best example - Anche Chung was banned from SL and their forums the other day. Moderators were then unleashed to remove any thread about her ban.

      The only people making income are the land barons who buy up huge sims (servers) then sell off the land. It's a lot of work to cut it up and sell - and the profits are small unless you do this large scale. To get that kind of scale you'll need 10's of thousands of dollars invested. There is already a land glut and the profits are hard to come by even with a lot of money to invest. Because of the land glut, the market is facing inflation. We're seeing over $300 second life dollars per $1 USD.

      If you want to try your hand at developing land to run things like casinos, malls, etc. You will have to upgrade your account to a paid version. You then need to find some land to buy. The monthly fee on a fairly modest 16,000m plot of land is $75. The initial cost for that amount of land is around $300 - $400. Much of the main land has no rules besides "PG" and "R" rated areas. So people build horrible objects and structures. The more prims an object takes up, the more lag the area gets. Anyway, people have issues selling clothing, skins, etc. because there is no way to prevent others from stealing them directly from the local client's graphics cache or directly from video memory. People steal then resell other's work.

      You also have to watch out for gotchas in the game. They have rules such as a user needing to belong to a group that owns the land, in order to set "Home" to that location. The problem is, if your land is owned by a group, and you sell the land, all members in that group get an EQUAL cut of the selling price of the land. This is not something they mention to you when you click SELL. So if you're selling a $500 USD plot of land and you get $4 back, you'll not be too happy. Calling SL's tech support will yeld such gems as "If you were planning on making a mistake, you should have called us up before you made the mistake and we'd be happy to help you"

      I don't want to rant on too much about it - I haven't even gotten started on the negitives ... but there are some positives to SL. But the hype is about making money - something that is extremely difficult. Most are lucky to even break even.
      • The only people making income are the land barons who buy up huge sims (servers) then sell off the land.

        Phht. Hardly. I've made over US$5k in SL in the last year by developing and marketing unique content. A few women have quit their day jobs and work from home, living on income made by virtual clothing sales in SL. There are infinite business opportunities there for the creative and hard-working.

        The real value of SL is the opportunity to explore your creativity -- but the business end of things is abs
  • by XorNand ( 517466 ) * on Monday April 24, 2006 @03:54PM (#15192263)
    This says something pretty significant and deeply disturbing about society yet the article seems to have glazed over it. Second Life has no point, it's not just a game. It's a reality that simply exists, it's the participants that determine everything--just like real life. People are escaping their own lives, why? Because they feel trapped? Trapped by what? The mindless and meaningless jobs that they hold down working for a multinational corporation. The incessant reminder that they need more material goods to be happy. That they aren't as beautiful as the people on TV. Aldous Huxley [wikipedia.org] seems to have been a visionary. Now corporations are looking to tap into this phenomemon? Holy shit! In my opinion, this trend is more scary than DRM ever could be.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      In real life I'm a shy, fat, ugly loser. Online I'm a hyper-successful 21 Y/O stud who get's all the attention. I'm living the dream baby!
    • by Lordfly ( 590616 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:04PM (#15192331) Homepage Journal
      What's so wrong about wanting to live/play/pretend that you're somebody else? Don't you daydream?
      • by XorNand ( 517466 ) * on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:22PM (#15192459)
        Because it distracts you from the things that trully matter--um, like reality. You're volunteering yourself for Plato's cave (or the Matrix). Can you really not see how that is bad?

        From a more pragmatic point of view: Imagine that you're working really hard to build a business in Second Life. You've spent hours doing so, and it's finally taken off. Now the publisher discontinues the world, or decides that it'll automatically take a 50% cut of your profits, or that it'll transfer your business to another character, etc. Maybe Taco Bell paid off the publisher and now all of your virtual products have a Taco Bell logo on them. Or maybe your computer dies, or you forget your password... Get my point?

        If people are that malcontent slaving away for someone else that they have to start their own virtual business to regain a sense of control over their life, then they need to grow some balls and start their own real-life business. Sorry, but I have no respect for these Soma-addicts who prefer to play out thier lives within a safe, little, virtual sandbox. Every hour spent in their virtual life is an hour wasted of their real life.
        • by Lordfly ( 590616 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:26PM (#15192494) Homepage Journal
          I guess I'm still missing the point. The economy works in SL just like the real world. There exists demand from consumers. You go in and fill that need, and make money.

          Assuming you're doing it for the hell of it, it's fun, and thus doesn't feel like work. Your hobby soon sustains itself, and maybe gets you a few extra bucks on the side. If you really get into your hobby, it can make a sizable contribution to your income.

          That's what most "businesses" in SL are; hobbyists who are passionate about their playtime making a few extra bucks on the side (that's me currently) The real big-money businesses are content teams doing contract work for real world firms (Wells-Fargo is one, for instance) to build prototypes and locations inworld for more RL business things. They're analogous to consultants in the real world. The economic benefits of consultants are best discussed another time. :)

          • Right, so what none of you realise is that due to the court ruling that it's ok to play on the internet rather than work, you can thus start your secondlife existance and couple it with the boring mundane existance that is work. The balence of life is preserved and you still have your "real life" available when you get out of the office :-)

            -nB

            Man I wish that would really fly...
        • Every hour spent in their virtual life is an hour wasted of their real life.

          Or maybe, just maybe, they are having FUN. Shockers.

          Not everything is attached to a a moral imperative and not everyone is escaping some bad life. Sheesh. Lighten up.
        • Plato's cave? Come now. I know what you are trying to get across here, but I don't think Plato is entirely relevant. Plato's point was that THIS life (the first one, not the second) is the shadow and only the enlightened may know the true nature of life. Are you referring to a shadow of a shadow? Or maybe the second life is reality?



          Why try to convince others? You live as you will, and others can waste their time and live to regret it when they are 80, or maybe not.

        • "Now the publisher discontinues the world, or decides that it'll automatically take a 50% cut of your profits, or that it'll transfer your business to another character, etc. Maybe Taco Bell paid off the publisher and now all of your virtual products have a Taco Bell logo on them. Or maybe your computer dies, or you forget your password... Get my point?"

          Now a giant rock crashes into earth killing everything, or your government becomes corrupt using weapons to control you so that they can take 50% of your in
        • "Because it distracts you from the things that trully matter--um, like reality. You're volunteering yourself for Plato's cave (or the Matrix). Can you really not see how that is bad?"

          Allow me to play Devil's Advocate and explore your point (while ignoring the more practical side of the legal issues regarding virtual worlds).

          As a scientifically minded person, I subscribe to the belief that what we consider "reality" is all a matter of perception. It is in essence what our brain tells us it is. Thus, in a

      • by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:32PM (#15192530) Journal
        What's so wrong about wanting to live/play/pretend that you're somebody else? Don't you daydream?

        Nothing... I enjoy a little escapist fantasy myself, whether watching Star Trek or role-playing a dwarf with a big axe and a bigger beard. Nothing wrong there... Not productive, but at least entertaining.

        But 2L satisfies neither the "escape" nor "fantasy" part of that. Just trading one mundane dog-eat-dog existance for another, without even the perk of entertainment. And you can't even call it an even trade, because while trudging along in "real life" might get you fed, sheltered, and offspring, no amount of success in Second Life will keep you alive and viable.

        So yeah, I'd certainly call it scarily unhealthy that people will trade an unsatisfying life for an unsatisfying non-life...
        • by Lordfly ( 590616 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:42PM (#15192613) Homepage Journal
          I guess. After coming home from work or university, I can grab a beer, sit down, listen to some Beethoven, and build a virtual house. Then I can plop the house into a box and sell it, and put it in a virtual "shop". Eventually somebody enjoys the house enough that they buy it. Over time, the house pays me handsomely for the time "invested" in me "working" on the house. Which is silly, because I built the house for fun in the first place.

          Some folks watch TV, I doodle around in a collaboritive building environment. To each their own. :)
        • But 2L satisfies neither the "escape" nor "fantasy" part of that. Just trading one mundane dog-eat-dog existance for another, without even the perk of entertainment. And you can't even call it an even trade, because while trudging along in "real life" might get you fed, sheltered, and offspring, no amount of success in Second Life will keep you alive and viable.

          Yes, but if Second Life sucks you could easily solve that by creating a network of virtual computers inside Second Life where the avatars could go

        • Just trading one mundane dog-eat-dog existance for another, without even the perk of entertainment.

          Ah, yes, riding a gryphon to meet elven friends, making space cruisers appear out of thin air, hunting dinosaurs with meteorite rain spells and flying a Pelican Dropship over high tech physically-impossible buildings is just so mundane.
          • Ah, yes, riding a gryphon to meet elven friends, making space cruisers appear out of thin air, hunting dinosaurs with meteorite rain spells and flying a Pelican Dropship over high tech physically-impossible buildings is just so mundane.

            Do you do those things IRL? Because, if 2L has them, their entire advertising team needs a good round of sulphuric acid enimas. Their web-site shows only an ego-graffiti-littered map that makes SC2000 look like high-quality rendering, with a ton of "events" that the foll
            • *shrug* It's a place where I can fool around and look like this [livejournal.com] or this [livejournal.com] or this [livejournal.com].

              On the other hand, I don't go there much except for spates of avatar-hacking, because my laptop doesn't run it too well, and the conversation UI is like a bad IRC client. I'd rather go to SL and make something myself than go to WoW and endlessly grind to make a few numbers increase on a server, though.
      • Instead of pretending, you should just do it. It's that simple. No, you can't be a dwarf with an axe, but life doesn't have to consist of a job in a cubicle and a shitty, generic apartment in the suburbs, with dinner at a Subway. The only problem is that it takes balls to live life the way you want it, and the VAST majority of people have no balls to speak of.
        • Bullshit, not everyone is born with equal opportunity to be what they want. You can try but a huge part of what you experience in life is dependant on other people. If they don't cooperate for one reason or another then you're out of luck in the real world, wether it's because of your history, how you look, disabilities, economic/social class, race/ethnicity, sex, or orientation.
          • How is a virtual world any different? You are running away from hard times in the real world to start anew (sorta) in a virtual world. What if you also have bad luck in the virtual world? Go to another virtual world? Keep running?

            I'm speaking generally. There are always exceptions, but I think at most the virtual world should be a short vacation from life, not a replacement.
            • Most virtual worlds are a little more 'fair' in that everyone starts with the same thing (or same number of options).

              If the player wants to 'keep running' that's up to them. My main concern is the obsession with making demands about how everyone should spend their limited life time when you have no relation to them.

              You know what, if you care that much about other people, perhaps you should work on trying to make the real world a better place for them instead of just demanding that they stop. Otherwise lea
    • The mindless and meaningless jobs that they hold down working for a multinational corporation.

      Because we all know that multinationals have a monopoly on mindless and meaningless make-work ;)

      Holy shit, corporations are looking to tap into the desire to escape from the daily workplace? Somebody tell Nintendo!
    • On the flip side: this is an easy way for people to communicate with others they may never have met before. It allows them to share ideas, debate and generally interact with social groups they otherwise might never have found in their local communities.

      It provides a creative outlet for those who want to build something, but might not have formal training in art or computer programming. For those that do, it gives them a virtually global showcase of their talents, which can translate into some real-world not
    • Couldn't you say the same thing about internet relay chat?
      Or television?
      Or radio?
      Or novels?
      Or theater?

      If the desire of persons to temporarily escape reality to live in fantasy as embodied by Second Life represents a problem, it is a problem that has been going on for 15 / 75 / 110 / 408 / 2600 years.
    • by gatkinso ( 15975 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:24PM (#15192469)
      ... the inability to take a shower, hit the gym, and subsequently get laid.
    • People are escaping their own lives, why?

      It's "glossed over" in TFA because it's a non-starter. People have been escaping from reality ever since there's been escapes from reality - which means forever. Even daydreaming is an escape from reality. Then there was booze, probably in the form of rotting fruit. Sometime later, mankind must have discovered inherently psychoactive plants.

      Fast-forward slightly, and you will discover storytelling, which led to oral tradition. Writing, which led to novels. N

      • Just a couple of quick notes about your timeline:
        • Recreational sex probably came first. Bonobos, which are generally considered to be far less evolved than humans, practice a great deal of recreational sex. It is a tool used by groups of bonobos to relieve tension, and create social bonds. As humans are more closely related to bonobos than just about any other animal, it is likely that early humans practiced similar behaviours (similar, not identical).
        • Oral traditions probably came next. I can't th
      • Am I the onyl one who used global warming as a WMD in that game? If you got yourself a dome, it didn't bother your bases at all, but the computer often wasn't smart enough to read it's impending doom in the rising waters.
    • I don't think this situation is different than the past. The only new thing about this is that people have a different way to express themselves. Previously people have accomplished a similar sort of escapism through books, drugs, art, video games, and even real world "second" lives.

      Escapism may be more exacerbated now because a lot of people have more time/money on their hands and they no longer have to eek out an existence like prior to the industrial revolution. 0.02

    • Honestly, I love the idea. It's like voluntary jail for the socially incapable.
    • It's nothing more than a glorified chat room. Years ago people would waste tons of time sitting on IRC chatting. Now they at least get to do something creative while wasting time.
    • What's really scary is that, apparently, people's lives seem pointless and repetitive in comparison to a MMOG.
    • I don't get on SL much, much of it due to the crappy support for non-windows machines, but I've got good friends who spend time on it. One of them does it for the free-form roleplay it allows; she's been spending a lot of time in a "Silent Hill"-esque type sim. In real life, she's got lots of friends, and is not trapped by a dead end job. She does it because it's fun, and because she gets to do things that are simply impossible in real life. Trust me, not everyone in these games are in it to live like the b
    • Imagine a society that has Holodecks! have you seen that episode of Star Trek - TNG that lt Barcley spends more and more time in the Holodeck, being a hero and dating the female members of the crew?

      As the population grows, it gets increasingly difficult to be special in a domain. The competition gets harder, as there are many more competitors at the level of being average. Economy gets tougher, with globalization and such, increasing the chances of being without a job for a longer period of time, thus incre
  • by coldtone ( 98189 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @04:00PM (#15192307)
    I have found a way better game to play online. It's a lot more challenging and fun then Wow, Second life, or Ever quest combined! This online game also allows you to earn real money!

    It's called running an online business. You can pick from a range of class types, (blogger, storekeeper, programmer) or create your own!

    The game content is simply amazing! It is virtually infinite, and changes daily!

    You can play as much or as little as you want. Spend an hour, a day or an hour a week, it's up to you!

    I've been playing for a few months now and its a blast! Check out my avatar cl1p [cl1p.net]!
    • Yeah, but the 'hacked by chinese!' griefers sure get old quick.
    • I'd love to try it out, but I'm waiting for someone to write a Gamefaq. It's just no fun without an infinite money code...
    • And have you been avoiding this kind of game because you like fighting and think there isn't any? Au contraire--running your own business involves tons of fighting! The first game you learn is called "looking at how people are abusing your box by reading Apache's access_log and error_log"

      An example of the action with access_log:

      69.224.108.166 - - [04/Apr/2006:05:04:06 -0400] "POST /xmlrpc.php HTTP/1.1" 404 15 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1;)"
      69.224.108.166 - - [04/Apr/2006:05:04:06 -
  • "People are willing to do tedious, complex tasks within games," notes Nick Yee, a Stanford University graduate student in communications who has extensively studied online games. "What if we could tap into that brainpower?" In other words, your next cubicle could well be inside a virtual world.

    The matrix has you.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • Yes. Also, I will gil you the first chance I get. Prepare to have your dog gibbed.
  • can't or don't want to make or loose money in a brick and mortar environment.

    Just for you, a virtual life. But who is going to change your diaper and refill your feeding tube?

     
  • So Linden Labs gets an infusion of cash (see http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/28/ 1727255 [slashdot.org]) to do more development on their "game," and this just sounds like part of the marketing feed. Don't get me wrong (a cursory check will find I am Second-Life-critical, really just a hardcore cynic), it may be yet-another-good-story about virtual economies crossing the reality border, but smells like it was paid for with that VC.
  • A few missed points (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SiliconEntity ( 448450 ) on Monday April 24, 2006 @07:02PM (#15193474)
    I've been playing SL for a few months and there are some interesting points that were missed by these articles.

    First, many of the signups are free accounts. You only need to upgrade to a paid account if you want to own land. I rent a 'condo' and I still only have a free account. However I have spent a few dollars occasionally, converting them directly to Linden-dollars so I could buy stuff. Many players just get by on the 50 Linden-dollars a week basic stipend that even free accounts get.

    Second, probably the most noteworthy aspect of SL is the large number of women participating. Female avatars substantially outnumber males, in my experience, and while not all of them are "really" female, it is clear that the game has real appeal to women. In fact one of the main activities in SL is clothes shopping, which is one of the reasons that hardcore gamers (almost all men/boys) often don't like the game.

    Another point not often mentioned is that another popular activity is gambling. There are hundreds of casinos in SL offering slot machines, blackjack, poker and dice games. Because Linden-dollars are convertible, it means that the players at these casinos are gambling real money. Which is illegal, in the U.S. Yet the activity goes on openly, on servers owned by a U.S. company. Plus, the casinos are completely unregulated and there is basically no recourse if you think you are being cheated, other than to go elsewhere.

    I do think the money-making aspects tend to get over-emphasized in articles about SL. Most people don't make or sell anything, from what I've seen. And those who do are not too happy lately. The Linden-dollars have been highly inflationary and have fallen from 1/250 to 1/300 of a dollar in the past couple of months. In response Linden Labs is constantly rejiggering the various stipends and payments they make.

    Which brings up the last point, the dynamism of the game. Things are always changing. My condo complex now has a medieval castle complete with lava-filled moat on one side, and an open-air art gallery on the other. Neither was there when I moved in a couple of months ago. You may go to a formerly-popular spot and find that an entire mall has picked up and moved to the other side of the world, overnight. Or maybe they just went out of business entirely. Several of my favorite places have disappeared since I started playing, which is too bad. But new ones are always being created so there is always something new to see.

    If you have a broadband account, give it a try. Don't expect it to be a structured game, just an enormous and diverse world to explore.
  • The Escapist [escapistmagazine.com] covered this topic recently. There's a fascinating alternative perspective presented in an interview with the president of RedBedlam, the team behind Roma Victor - another virtual economics-based VW due to launch in July. The interview is here [escapistmagazine.com].

    NB my sig.
  • Enough about Second Life. It's quite dull. Their PR department gets them press everywhere, but compared to the 6 million people in WoW, it's a miniscule world.

    The same story over and over about the same people making money in Second Life. Here's a good post about how dull it is [seanbonner.com].

    The "omfgwtfbbq people are making money off of virutal gold" is a stale story with it going back to Ultima Online and Everquest in the late 90s. In 2006, this kind of story is nothing more than marketing hype.
  • Trickle trickle head I want to be a tricklehead. seriously man where can I plug in my headjack?
  • Hmm..Second Life might be a perfect place for me to vent my rage against games that want to charge me money to own virtual land. To do this, I will pick a day...let's say May 2nd, where I will resist building anything and not buy anything. That will show them that there are far more of us who don't want to pay than those who do!
  • I have a feeling that this game is going to get bigger pretty soon. It going to be the next MySpace. And there is still time to get in and make some money. You just have to find a place to make money.

    One of my issues with the game is finding stuff to do. The strip clubs get boring fast and I have never set foot in Casino. Where are the other things to do?
  • OK, I am the curious kind, and reading the article, downloaded second life.

    My net is not perfect 256/128, but this is a damn lagfest. Athlon64 3200+, 1gig ram, and it is like playing quake3 on a 386.

    On the other hand, i downloaded Alpha World as well as I haven;t seen it for a long time, and with max detail is just runs perfect and looks better.

    I miht ask, if my net and my machine plays BF2 64 player matches without a single lag, how comes that an empty world in the middle of nowhere lags like i can barely

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