Stefano has been rather curious about Second Life (SL) in his blog, and much of the press seemed to be buzzing about how SL was going to be an economy of its own and how there were millionaires in the making.
Based on my experience of IT as a hype-driven industry of sorts, I was somewhat sceptical about all the promises of Second Life. Seems I wasn’t the only one. The Register now has an article “The phony economics of Second Life” in which the claim of 3.1 million residents is examined with some healthy scepticism:
Typically, there are only around 15,000 clients logged in to Second Life at any one time. In other words, this economy has a population about the size of Ilkeston, Derbyshire, or Troutdale, Oregon. And each business has the prospect of a market of no more than 100 people in one place – a number easily accommodated by a church hall. [...] So, from the three million residents who, we are told, are living the dream of a virtual economy, we arrive at a figure of around 3,000 economically active users at any one time – most of whom are turning over only a token sum.
This sounds much more realistic to me, and if anyone was hoping to get rich quick in that Second Life, heed the following statement by Linden Labs, the makers of Second Life:
“Linden Dollars are not money, they are neither funds nor credit for funds. Linden Dollars represent a limited license right to use a feature of the simulated environment. Linden Lab does not offer any right of redemption for any sum of money, or any other guarantee of monetary value, for Linden Dollars.”
The shocking conclusion: Second Life is a game, and a game that some people would even describe as stupendously boring. Which is probably why most people still seem to prefer their “First Life” (FL).