Dear Robert Bloomfield,
I enjoyed reading your article “Virtual Worlds for Studying Real World Business.” Prior to reading your work, I thought back to a video my class watched in our Self & Society in the Virtual Contexts course in which a woman designed her own fashions and luxury homes on Second Life, and even though they were just part of a video game, they sold for real money. This woman was making online products for avatars, not humans, and making her income in the six-figures only from that.
I found section 3 of your article to be particularly interesting, where you talk about how virtual worlds are valuable to educators and researchers in all disciplines because they have an immersive nature and can reach others across a global spectrum.
You talk about how the “basis of any economy is geography.” In Second Life and other virtual worlds this doesn’t apply. If a user wants to go to another island, they simply need to “teleport” there. No transportation or other special care required. With virtual worlds, making money is simplistic and can be done with just the click of a mouse.
Another interesting point that you make is that “Virtual worlds support interaction and innovation.” The woman from the video we watched said that if she wants to wear something, she’ll design and make it herself. Second Life provides the platform, with much room for creativity, which people are profiting from as well. You quote Cory Ondrejka as saying that Second Life gives users a chance to escape the “gilded cage” while creating, which is absolutely true
These people may not be able to afford these products for their actual cost in the real world, so why not get the next best thing: a replica in a virtual world. There’s still a money exchange, but at a much lower value.
Thank you for reading!