The Second Life online virtual world has developed from a 3D role playing game (RPG) into a main stream business environment.
founded Second Life in 1999 with the original intention of developing 3D gaming hardware. But the focus on hardware changed to developing gaming software. And in 2001, the gaming software developed into collaborative community-building.
Open source software
The features that arguably contributed the most to the growth and success of Second Life online are the decision by Linden Lab to use open source software and allow residents to retain intellectual property rights to their own creations. The reason that strategy has been so significant is that Second Life has some of the best graphics presentation capability of any of the online virtual worlds. And the excellence of the graphics has greatly enhanced the user experience.
As the 3D graphics improved, resident participation became more of an immersion experience. The state of immersion in the context of Second Life means that participants identify with their avatars and have emotional responses to their interactions with other residents and with the environment. This strong emotional component to participating in Second Life tends to be self-reinforcing. The more you participate, the stronger tie you feel to the community; and the stronger the tie you feel, the more you want to engage.
Resident intellectual property rights
The other major influence of the open software and resident property rights is that they allowed for the emergence of a strong virtual economy centered on owning virtual real estate and producing virtual goods for trade. Using the Second Life currency exchange, participants can exchange real world currencies for Linden Dollars (L$). As residents became adept at creating scripts that simulate lifelike effects (like flowing water, swinging doors and growing plants) and objects (like hair and clothing for avatars, furniture to fill houses, and the houses themselves), the inworld market for these items grew into a thriving marketplace named
Second Life Marketplace.
Second Life real estate can be bought and sold there, too.
Virtual reality business market
Just as open sourcing allowed Microsoft to dominate the business software market, open sourcing is allowing Second Life online to dominate the virtual reality business market. The University of Washington has created a Certificate in Virtual Worlds to teach students how to incorporate virtual workplaces into businesses. And
Second Life Work
is marketing itself as a virtual workspace to such well known corporations as Intel, Northrop and IBM. Second Life has come a long way.