"I think that it's almost indisputable that a significant fraction
of humans' time will be [spent] in these worlds. At a minimum, you
want to get somebody's attention, whether it's because you want to
teach them something, impress them with a brand image, or help them
understand that some option is available," says Edward Castronova,
author of Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online
Games and an associate professor at Indiana University. "Your
company, your organization, or the government is going to have to
be in there."
He may be right. Second Life is growing at a rate of almost 20
percent per month, and it's not just businesses that want to have
access to a growing virtual population. Seeing it as a promising
venue to get in front of potential voters, Mark Warner, the former
governor of Virginia and a potential 2008 presidential candidate,
was interviewed - through his avatar - in Second Life this past
Clearly, something socially, culturally,
and economically significant is happening in these virtual worlds.
Looking to tap into what could be a much larger movement, companies
are probing what sort of presence they should have there.
"Corporations are discovering this as a place to do business," says
David Fleck, vice president of marketing for Linden Lab. "They
don't necessarily understand what Second Life is, and there's this
discovery process they're going through." In opening its Lerappa
store, American Apparel became the first real-world retailer to
actually establish a presence in Second Life.