Some very interesting comments on Friday's Second Life post. My thanks to everyone who participated.
But to put things in perspective, here are some key things I think we now know about Second Life:
It's first and foremost a game and any sort of high-involvement game is going to get some extreme types. And while I was being somewhat facetious, the fact that someone logs on to Second Life to have their avatar work as a security guard in a mall created by another avatar says just about everything re: the level of involvement of SL players.
The technology has great potential for things like business conferences and trade shows that can take place outside the confines of a game. Crayon, Jaffe & Verdino's not-an-agency has had some success showing off this potential.
BUT it also seems clear that bringing mainstream advertisers on there is risky.
First off, no one's asked the more umm "dedicated" players how they feel about having Reebok and Coke in their world. I mean given that people are starting and building their own businesses (both physically and metaphorically) - do they want competition from real world businesses? I ask this because even for brands whose demographics overlap those of the typical Second Life player, being there could prove far more harmful than helpful if Second Life players feel that (you knew it was coming) Your Brand Is Not My Friend™.
Now Jonathan Trenn had an interesting idea, which was for the companies to work with the Second Life businesspeople to provide them with items they may want, e.g. sign someone on there up as a Second Life Reebok store owner or give them virtual Black and Decker tools to build their virtual stores. But no one seems to be doing this. Yet.
Experimenting with a technology like Second Life is a great idea. We just need to be more thoughtful as to what shapes those experiments take, lest we be branded (once again) as nothing more than a bunch of charlatans.
People in advertising and marketing are already viewed in polls as being right up there with politicians, lawyers and car dealers. Being viewed as a charlatan at this point would be a step up for us, no?
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