The Second Life Virtual Reality

Every day, new technologies are introduced giving entrepreneurs great new options when it comes to marketing products, bringing their customers together, and building lasting relationships. One of the most intriguing new options out there today is Second Life. Second Life provides a uniquely graphical, interactive environment where a savvy business owner can accomplish amazing things with customers, clients, and employees all around the world. For now, most businesspeople have no idea how Second Life can help them -- and they're really missing out on great opportunities! Here's more about it.

What is Virtual Reality?

The concept of virtual reality has been around since the 1990s, but the technology behind it is only now catching up to people's expectations. Early virtual reality involved a headset that included full audio in the ears and a visual interface over the eyes. Using this headset and special "VR" gloves, users were able to interact directly with a computer program as if it were real. The "virtual reality" of Second Life is very different: It provides a graphical world of user-created content including buildings, objects, clothing, and much more. It is "virtual" in the sense that it functions as an augmented replacement for ordinary reality, where people have more creative freedom but interact socially in a way very similar to the real world.

What is 'Second Life?'

In Second Life, users take on a fully customizable graphical persona (or "avatar") in order to socialize, enjoy others' creations, and design their own content. Second Life is a world made up of virtual locations, each one carefully designed either by members of Linden Labs -- the developers of Second Life -- or by users. Users are able to purchase virtual real estate using real currency. On this virtual land, they can create anything they desire, including wearable items, toys, games, buildings, landscapes, and even full-scale virtual businesses. In fact, its economy is one of the most interesting things about Second Life.

Some Ways Second Life is Used

Second Life has been designed to be incredibly versatile and flexible. When it comes to creating new places, items, and organizations, the only limit is your imagination. Thousands of businesses, colleges, and even embassies have Second Life versions of their real world locations, often designed to mimic the real thing down to the detail. Second Life has been used for educational purposes, not only for things like computer science and programming, but also for online courses in a variety of subjects. Global project teams also use Second Life to meet up. All of this is in addition to the ordinary socializing, gaming, and flying through the air above a breathtaking online world.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Second Life

Second Life has many tremendous advantages. The most important one is its versatility. There is virtually nothing that cannot be recreated or simulated in Second Life. The second advantage is its accessibility and low cost. Although it does cost money to buy virtual real estate, most activities can be handled for free. The learning curve is very simple and most people who have a passing familiarity with computer technology can quickly learn how to explore the virtual world. Plus, it has a global reach, giving you the ability to coordinate meetings or talk to potential customers from around the world. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts from Linden Labs, Second Life is very resource intensive and requires a powerful computer. Also, it can be difficult to attract prospective customers who are not already members of the Second Life community.

How Can Second Life Be Used for Marketing?

Second Life has tremendous potential for very powerful marketing strategies. With Second Life, you can easily reach a large, built-in community of very tech-savvy individuals who tend to be passionate about their hobbies. Second Life is particularly attractive to individuals who enjoy using the virtual world for fantasy and wish fulfillment, living out experiences that may be unattainable offline. So, you can easily market directly to the existing segments of the Second Life community, by connecting your business website to your Second Life experience, developing a Second Life virtual presence, and tying your social media to Second Life. You can also build marketing power by inviting your existing customers and teams onto Second Life to enjoy product demonstrations, seminars, interactive meetings, and more.

  • 7 Things You Should Know About Second Life: An introduction to the importance of Second Life and its implications for teaching and learning created by the nonprofit Educause Learning Initiative.
  • New Media: What is a Second Life?: More about virtual worlds and the history of Second Life, from a University of North Carolina Pembroke author and Second Life resident.
  • Graduates Start a New Life Via Second Life: Information about online graduation ceremonies held via Second Life from Bryant & Stratton College, a fully online education organization that conducts classes in Second Life.
  • UT Arlington in Second Life College of Nursing: Information about the fully accredited program in Nursing from the Arlington, Texas university.
  • Second Life: University of Cincinnati: Introduction to the nearly 50 acres of virtual space offered in Second Life by the University of Cincinnati, intended to be used for distance learning and virtual courses.
  • Psychology of Cyberspace - Second Life: Discusses the psychology of Second Life and virtual worlds, including an in-depth look at how avatars, the learning curve, and social interaction influence virtual behavior.
  • Second Life at David B. Weigle Information Commons: Detailed introduction to Second Life including a directory of universities with Second Life virtual campuses, tips and tricks, and much more.
  • SLCC Online: Official U.S.-based convention of the Second Life community.
  • Relay For Life of Second Life: Virtual extension of the traditional Relay for Life charitable organization, which works with and benefits the American Cancer Society.
  • T2 Virtual PTSD Experience: An educational PTSD simulator embedded with a variety of treatment resources to help family and loved ones support soldiers returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Second Life for Learners of English: Introduction to a virtual "island" in Second Life that provides various learning activities and exercises for newcomers to the English language. Supported by the British Council, the UK's international agency for cultural relations.
  • Info Island: Web 2.0 site supporting Community Virtual Library, an online nonprofit library that has been established within the Second Life world. Includes a calendar of upcoming events and other features.
  • Outreach at ESRL: Provides opportunities to visit virtual National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration buildings, exhibits, and sites recreated in their own custom tailored Second Life environment.
  • The James Web Space Telescope: Visitor information for the interactive model of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope on the NASA island of Second Life.
  • Time Magazine: My So-Called Second Life: Time Magazine author Joel Stein takes a look at the social environment and subcultures within the Second Life community.