Oct 06

SecondLife vs No Life

FT + Proven By Science6 comments • 953 views

One of the more eyebrow-raising branding successes of the year has been SecondLife, the “real world” massively multiplayer online ‘game’ (or ‘environment’ maybe) which has been getting regular press – marketing and mainstream – for the willingness of various businesses to advertise there: most recently Reuters, which has assigned some poor sucker thrusting young journalist to its virtual beat. Several people at work have asked me what I think of the site, a sign that the word-of-mouth (or hype) is spreading through the marcomms industry. “Clients,” writes one columnist in the trade press this week, “are increasingly asking agencies what their Second Life strategy is”.

There’s no question that someone is going to make lots of money out of Second Life – whether it’s any of the people advertising there is more doubtful. The same columnist suggests that the site is slow to load, clunky, not very much happens in it, and its user base is still fairly small – under a million, compared to the 7 million or so that a virtual environment like World of Warcraft can boast. But it’s fair to assume that clients aren’t asking agencies what their World of Warcraft strategy is. (“I say we level up your brand rapidly.”)

The comparison between SL and WoW points up the not-so-hidden agenda behind the SecondLife buzz – here’s a virtual environment that – thank heavens! – isn’t for nerds! Ordinary people use it, hallelujah – in fact, better than ordinary people – cool people use it. Well, in theory they do. Of course, five hours spent in front of a SecondLife interface is no more or less than five hours spent in EverQuest – virtual environments are still an extraordinarily time-intensive leisure option – but let’s not worry about that when all the avatars look like well-dressed ad execs rather than valkyries and barbarians!


  1. 1
    Kat on 18 Oct 2006 #

    It amazes me that people want to escape from their hectic everyday lives by doing exactly the same thing on the interweb. I don’t want a real dog as I wouldn’t feasibly be able to put lion’s manes or top hats on it*. That is why I play a computer game where I can.

    *well I could, but it wouldn’t be half as much fun.

  2. 2
    Marna on 18 Oct 2006 #

    There was a thing in the Guardian about this the other week. It featured a yellow triceratops who had been born a homosexual dragon, hung out in the furry bath-houses, had just bought a dungeon, and who prefered their Second Life because it’s where they feel pain. Cool?

  3. 3
    Tom on 18 Oct 2006 #

    Haha I think the marketing press may well paint a very different picture of SecondLife than the Guardian then – I’m sure the various branding agencies don’t think it’s all furries and queer dragons.

  4. 4
    Marna on 18 Oct 2006 #

    To be fair, the Guardian did mention other bits of it too. But that was the most memorable bit.

  5. 5
    RickyT on 18 Oct 2006 #

    There was also summat about a Dalek war in the Sahara, which sounded decidedly geeky.

  6. 6
    CarsmileSteve on 18 Oct 2006 #

    all i can reply to that is

    O RLY???

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