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.
This parallel universe, an online service called Second Life that allows computer users to create a new and improved digital version of themselves, began in 1999 as a kind of online video game.
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.
It seems the fantasy offering found in an avatar, which also lends anonymity, is highly appealing to many people. I’ve never been a gamer, but I can image that gamers are taking to Second Life like a fish to water. And wherever there’s a crowd, you know marketers can’t be far behind.
[UPDATE] Podcaster/blogger/author/consultant Joseph Jaffee, is opening “a new marketing company” in Second Life on Thursday. He says, crayon is a shape-shifter; a mash-up; a company that integrates the best of the consulting, agency, advisory, thought leadership and education worlds.