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Designing a second life

Designing a second life

In 2006 second life was surrounded by hype and became a media and corporate darling. Big name US companies from NBC, universal to coca-cola commissioned in-game presences. American apparel was among the first wave of fashion retailers to go virtual and open a store in SL, joining the likes of adidas and reebok. Since then more than 85 percent of the avatars created have been abandoned. A wave of articles were published on how marketers are not getting the returns expected, how deserted SL is, and how most residents are somewhat indifferent to the large companies that open their virtual outlets.

Whilst this phenomenom might still seem a little unusual to some it is surely a nod to the technology rich future which sees us having an existence that is part real and part digital.

One of the things that the mainstream press gets right about SL is that nearly everything is user-generated, one of SL's greatest strengths!

Second life avatars are valuable customers - they have the money to spend on high-end computers, and high-speed internet connections, as well as free time needed to partake of SL. No wonder that design companies wish to use SL for effective marketing, building relationships with customers and partners, and creating business value. With so many places in SL to visit such as shops, cinemas, galleries - there is plenty to keep the 9 million or so avatars busy. One main past time seems to be that of spending. The community's currency is the linden dollar, named after SL's developer linden lab (exchange rate is L$265 to US$1). This past june/july, about 11,500,000 transactions took place.


Many PR agencies are testing the waters of the SL phenomenon - in may 2007 the german agency ‘Trendbьro’ invited 40 persons to their SL 'corecon convention center',to take part in a 'trend day' entitled ‘karma-capitalism’, which was defined by the three words: transparency, attitude and sustainability. It was possible for SL visitors to chat with the speakers after the talks.

car design

In a computer-generated virtual world where the roads are empty and the cars are cheap, anything is possible. In November 2006, Toyota’s American youth brand 'scion' opened their first car showroom in SL, where people can test drive the range and even buy them for as little as 200 linden dollars. In the first two months alone scion sold more than 500 virtual cars. Other car companies soon followed, and now there's a booming car culture in SL.

Nissan went one better - giving away their 'sentra' models for free at a kind of giant vending machine and provided a death defying 'loop-d-loop' track to test them on. The stunt seemed to prove popular with around 20,000 sentras given away since the vending machine opened.

In April this year the Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro announced that he will present his concept car renders on SL for a test drive.

furniture design

In july 2007, the US company Steelcase announced a SL chair design competition, the winning design will be showcased in the SL Steelcase store ...

The Italian company Moroso has its own virtual HQ which of course is furnished with their iconic pieces, from the likes of Marc Newson and Patricia Urquiola.

fashion design

it's not surprising that clothing, hairstyles and accessories are as attractive as they are to second lifers, it's all part of individualizing the appearance of a player's online persona.

Like offline fashion designers, second lifers can spend hours or days sketching and developing the textures and patterns of a garment. 'It's not unlike making real clothing' says 26 year old Alyssa Laroche who started designing clothes for SL in 2004 the avatar name of 'aimee weber'. Her line originally consisted of the club wear she'd have worn if she didn't havea day job as a web designer. Skip forward to today and Alyssa no longer has that day job. Her online design business has become full time, aided by the success of her fashions and other contract work, such as helping American apparel launch their SL store.

talent zone

Anyone with photoshop can become a fashion or industrial designer and create whatever looks they desire.

But at the moment young designers aren’t that keen on presenting their collections on SL as yet. An article on SL’s style page lindenllifestyles.com encourages new designers to get on board. The site features a detailed article on how new talents can promote themselves within SL and the blog circuit covering fashion and shopping to boost their virtual image.

pet cause

Why stage a real protest when you can do it virtually? That’s what Stella McCartney and PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals) did this year. In July there was a peaceful anti-fur protest on a virtual island created especially for the occasion. While you were there your character could don a slogan t-shirt which reads ‘I’d rather be pixilated than wear fur’, donate virtual money which can be converted to hard currency by PETA or just enjoy the virtual English countryside complete with picnic tables and a Linda Mccartney veggie burger stand.

second lifetime expectancy

Copyright issues aside, second life still continues to grow. each month more and more companies venture into the virtual world in search of business possibliities. Steady rates of people are jumping on the band waggon whatever their real life occupation might be all in search of a new design for life. Second life - your world, your imagination.

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