2/14/2006

a brave new world...


It is impossible to ignore that the gaming culture is exploding. Games such as Halo, Everquest, and World of Warcraft have drawn a die-hard following, and although I've never been much of a gamer myself, I certainly understand the appeal of these virtual worlds and the form of escape/community they provide.

Along those lines, I recently read a fascinating piece in Wired News Online about a game called Second Life that provides users (referred to as 'residents') a virtual environment, which, as a point of comparison, much resembles The Sims.

An important caveat is that nearly all of the game's content is user-created. Users retain the intellectual property rights to objects they create but are required to offer Linden Lab, the games creator, an open license to them.

The game even has its own economy--complete with a unique form of currency, known as "Linden Dollars" (L$). Most interesting is the fact that users can convert the game's currency into real $US via an online brokerage called LindeX Currency Exchange.

The article provides examples of numerous individuals who make their living providing virtual goods and/or services inside the game. Opportunities exist in everything from real estate to fashion design. Crazy..., right?

That got me thinking about the opportunities that this new world opens to advertisers. How effective would it be to sponsor a location/activity inside these virtual environments? Is it possible that companies could even achieve a new line of revenue in delivering virtual goods and services (provided they find relevant content), and if so, what would this look like? Huh... something to think about. Discuss.

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