Second Life

Real Life Dates in Second Life and Other Coming Features

Tom Hale, Chief Product Officer at Linden Lab, proposes that the integration of Second Life with social media may include links with dating sites so that you can take the virtual plunge before the real one.

Hale made the comments in an interview with V3 UK within the context of explaining how the Lab was aiming for “lighter engagement” with SL. (And on the topic of lighter, the conversation about that light and peppy Twitter versus that heavy and clunky SL continues over at Ad Age and Chris Abraham’s blog - check my comments at the bottom).

Tom referred to the new dashboard, which I think is close to revolutionary but which seems otherwise to have elicited yawns (am I delusional about this or something?

“Linden Lab recognises there’s a place for lighter-weight engagement with Second Life, and further leveraging the web is a strategic choice for the company, hence the launch of the new dashboard and web site refresh.”

As part of the move, the company has released a beta version of the new dashboard which provides a lightweight web interface to offer an insight into the world without having to log in. The dashboard provides access to several social networking-style tools, such as a map of Second Life, presence details of friends, upcoming events, recent activity and status updates.

This allows users to see whether anything of interest is going on in-world, or whether friends are online, before firing up the client. Similarly, it caters for a certain level of involvement in situations where the full application cannot be loaded.

Tom gives an example of how connecting the Web, personal identity, and avatar can have, well, synergistic possibilities:

Linden Lab also plans to introduce more services, and to integrate with other popular social networks and online services, further associating the avatar with the person’s real identity.

Hale gave the example of working with other online agencies, such as dating sites, to offer another step in the meeting process by letting users create avatars that could explore the world on a ‘virtual date’, allowing people to get to know each other even better before meeting in person.

OK - so now I understand why Tom isn’t yet doing interviews with the more Second Life-centric blogs (your invitation awaits, Tom….come on by, I’ll try to be gentle. :) ) Because really: dating sites????

Two problems: linking actual and virtual identities runs counter to the notion of SL, and isn’t the kind of thing you want announcing as part of the Lab’s intent - if it happens, it happens, but please don’t go running around setting up links with dating sites.

And second, until you offer avatar morphing based on real life photos, who would want to use a 9 foot gorgeous avatar as a proxy ahead of a real date? I’m just not seeing it, Tom….as if the “I fell in love with an avatar and he was nothing like he looked” stories haven’t gone far enough.

Regardless of all that, Tom makes the same points as M and the rest of the team: SL continues to grow:

“Hale claimed that there were 656,867 active Second Life residents in May 2009, racking up over a million logins and over 43 million in-world hours. Users each logged an average of 42.65 hours a month, and generated just under $50m (£30m) worth of user-to-user transactions.

Although Second Life is not a game, it is the second most popular online world, according to Nielsen’s April ratings, some way behind the hugely successful World of Warcraft, but well ahead of Lord of the Rings Online and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic.”

And in my favorite quote (within the context of that Twitter discussion noted above):

“Although the hype and coverage around Second Life has declined, it is clear that the virtual world is not going to disappear any time soon. Interaction continues to grow steadily, and its economy has remained healthy despite adverse conditions in the real world.”


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