Is Second Life's Economy Too Big To Fail?

Oct 13, 2009 by Miranda Marquit weblog
Image source: GameOgre.com

One of the more interesting developments in terms of technology is the virtual economy -- and how it translates into something that involves real money.

Indeed, according to New Scientist, Americans will spend close to $621 million in real dollars in virtual worlds like and World of Warcraft. In Asia, that figure is a whopping $5 billion. Clearly, in spite of the fact that the "real" is still sluggish, in the , things are hopping.

The largest of these virtual economies is Second Life, the creation of Linden Labs. Second Life has even surpassed several countries in terms of GDP:

With its users swapping virtual goods and services worth around $600 million per year, Second Life has the largest economy of any virtual world - which exceeds the GDP of 19 countries, including Samoa.

It is clear that technology is providing escapism at its finest. You can head into this virtual world and be someone else. Someone who wears cool clothes and looks hot. And you can even spend money in this virtual world. Whether its buying character upgrades from World of Warcraft or buying oceanfront property in Second Life, it is clear that is strong in the virtual world -- even if we remain reluctant to buy things in the real world.

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

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Eco_R1
Oct 14, 2009
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GwynethLlewelyn
not rated yet Oct 15, 2009
It's not just "escapism at its finest"... while Second Life is also used for escapism (well, just like watching TV or going to the movies...), that's just one of the millions of possible activities in Second Life. Among the more interesting ones are, of course, advanced academic research by thousands of universities world-wide, training, conferences, debates, live music, and fostering communities of all kinds — even developers and partners of several companies join Second Life just to be in touch with their peers, exchange information, and network with them.

For instance, my own company, Beta Technologies is organising a business conference in Second Life, on a virtual space that is set up as a business park. These are the kind of things that slowly become commonplace in Second Life...

Escapism definitely pushes the economy in Second Life, but even a CEO giving a presentation in Second Life to an audience will need to buy a fine new suit somewhere... :)