3D Virtual World
When you think of 3D virtual worlds, do you automatically think of entertainment? Most people do.
Sony's Play Station
Microsoft's Xbox 360
offer dozens of games and 3D avatars to their players. Virtual reality web sites like
World of Warcraft
Second Life (SL)
have developed loyal followings numbering in the millions. Why are these games and web sites so popular? Because the experience is so realistic.
The simulations used by these 3D virtual worlds have become so technically sophisticated that entire
are being built by the participants. People are spending real money to buy virtual products and services that can only be used within these simulated worlds. Second Life has taken this concept further than most of the MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games). It's official currency, the Linden Dollar (L$) can be bought using real world US dollar currency on the
which functions as a monetary market and publishes statistics of the daily exchange rates.
Second Life encourages its citizens to use their imaginations to create anything they can dream up in their virtual world. As a result, there are literally millions of items that are available for purchase in the SL marketplace. Prices range from one Linden dollar (L$1) for a microwave for your virtual kitchen, to an entire shopping mall for L$83,999.
Whoever buys the shopping mall can create their own inventory from scratch, if they have the time and talent. Or they can stock it with their choice of virtual products from the marketplace. Categories for pre-made virtual items include apparel, art, audio and video, recreation and entertainment, building components, gadgets, home and garden items, and avatar accessories and appearance items.
At the high end of the marketplace price range, for example, the new shopping mall owner could buy a hair design business, which includes 50 3-dimensional styles, 18 textures and 18 colors, for L$9,000. Or for L$5,000 it might be more fun to buy a ready-made book of magic spells that will create on-demand virtual waterfalls, rainbows or meteor showers for L$7,000. Of course, prices and availability change daily in the SL marketplace, depending on what is sold and what new products are listed. But these are good examples of how completely people engage in their virtual worlds.
Originally, all SL commerce and advertising took place exclusively "in-world", meaning within the 3D virtual world. But Second Life has become so popular that off-world web sites offer advertising for the virtual products that SL citizens create. For example,
has a special page that displays its advertising rates in Linden dollars. Thanks to ongoing technological advances, virtual worlds and the "real" online world are slowly but surely merging.
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