Posted by: ateedub | June 30, 2008

Second Life and the Best Wikipedia Section Ever

Negative GDP Growth

Second Life is sometimes cited as being in a recession, due to its negative GDP growth for the second fiscal quarter in a row. Reports are coming out that the Second Life management may be issuing an economic stimulus package to help fix the issue.  [150]

 The Wikipedia entry on Second Life (SL) contains the above top-level section. I love it for two reasons:

  1. The citation leads you to an SL forum archive that can only be accessed by paying residents of SL. You’ve got to be “in” to “get it”.
  2. Wouldn’t it be amazing if an economic stimulus package worked in SL but didn’t in the real world?

I get a kick out of Second Life because of its potential as a vehicle for social science research. Linden Labs should be marketing the ‘game’ to as many political science, economics, and sociology departments as they can. (It might actually provide some hard science to back up the social part.) I personally can’t wait to check out the self-sustaining ecosystem developed on the island of Svarga once I get my avatar up and running.

These kinds of applications of massive multiplayer games (MMOGs) are the most interesting to me. I don’t have enough time to see all of my friends in real life (I’m with you Melissa!), so I can’t imagine having a second online life to worry about.

But I would love to see more research on the SL economy, and how it does/doesn’t mirror real world economics. This is an environment where land and programming skill are paramount, and distance means nothing. What impact does that have on the social structure? And how can we apply this to the ‘real’ world of the world wide web (which is similar in many ways)? Are people replicating their real lives inside SL, or are they living out alternate lives (or something in-between)?

And then there’s marketing in SL. In some cases it’s even more successful than anything else done online. In person, marketing folks hand out giveaways, free samples, and branded materials. In SL, they can do the same thing, but it’s got a longer lifespan. Instead of giving you a test drive of a new car, they can give away the car (or sell it for a small fee). Now I’m not clear on how realistic the driving experience would be, but boy does getting a free car in SL go a long way toward hitting those however many marketing impressions needed to create brand recognition…

Oh, and what’s with the last name thing?

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