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Second life
Why should the business world take notice of the goings-on in the virtual world, Second Life?

1. What do you know about the web-site ‘Second Life’? Discuss your answer with a partner.

2. Read the article and complete the Fact File on Second Life below.

‘Second Life’: Fact File
Year founded:                                                 Transactions (Jan. 2006)
Founded by:                                                   Users (last year)
Currency:                                                     Users (current)

3. Podcast transcript.

                                                                            transactions buying or selling buildings, clothes and other
Virtual business in a virtual world                                         objects created by players. This figure is set to grow rapidly.
Businesses across the globe are sitting up and taking notice of
                                                                            A year ago, there were about 20,000 people using Second
Second Life, a virtual world on the Internet. Why? Because
                                                                            Life. This figure has already exceeded 2 million.
virtual worlds could offer a way for businesses to test new
ideas in a safe environment. They could provide
                                                                            Businesses are now taking notice. IBM, for example, has used
opportunities in areas such as training, product design,
                                                                            Second Life for virtual meetings. In the same way, companies
marketing and projects involving cross-border collaboration.
                                                                            have the potential to bring together participants from all over
In Second Life, you can test drive a virtual Toyota car, buy
                                                                            the world for training courses. Many educational
virtual footwear from Adidas or hold a virtual meeting.
                                                                            organizations are already exploring ways that Second Life
                                                                            can be used to promote learning. A chain of hotels has made
Second Life was set up in 2003 by software company Linden
                                                                            virtual models of future hotels, showing that the corporate
Labs. It is a multiplayer gaming environment that is
                                                                            world can test consumer reactions in a risk-free environment.
modelled on the real world. Players create everything in this
                                                                            One US clothes company, American Apparel, is now selling
virtual world, trading with each other using "Linden dollars",
                                                                            digital versions of clothes which it markets in real life.
the game's currency. Yet some aspects of this environment
                                                                            However, while big business is just starting to arrive in
are real. Players can convert their ‘play’ money into U.S.
                                                                            Second Life, some entrepreneurial players are already
dollars, at an exchange rate of about 300 to the dollar. This
                                                                            making virtual fortunes. So, perhaps one day soon this type
virtual economy allows players to build something, sell it
                                                                            of virtual world will become an extension of the real business
and make a profit: just like in the real world! In January last
                                                                            world. Does anyone fancy a game of virtual golf?
year, Second Life saw people take part in over 4 million

Virtual            Not real
Avatar:            a picture on a computer screen that represents a person

4. Discussion questions:

          a. What do you think about the concept of ‘Second Life’?
          b. Have you ever visited a ‘Virtual World’? If not, would you like to?
          c. Are there any ways in which ‘Second Life’ or virtual reality could be beneficial to your own company?

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Copyright  Barney Barrett and Pete Sharma.

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