Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Its a Strange New World Out There

One of my colleague's friend spoke about an acquaintance who makes a living on real estate business. But the real estate doesnt have a state. Its virtual.
I know all you readers have guessed it right. And you might sigh saying, "Oh! another article on Second Life. " I had blogged about Second Life long back in February. Since then, I have failed to keep track of its evolution. Only occasionally coming across it through some random articles here and there or on the Internet. Though I had seen it coming, today it doesnt seize to amaze me any less knowing about the kind of parallel economy it is driving along. Avatars are setting up businesses and making a living. Real estate resellers are purchasing land, holding it and auctioning it at higher prices. And people are actually scampering for their share of land.

There are two distinct types of land in Second Life: Mainland and Islands (or Estates). Mainland is managed by Linden Lab. Each Estate is managed by the Estate owner.

I am reading Making Your Mark in Second Life: Business, Land and Money by Taran Rampersad where the writer demystifies the realities of making profitable business in Second life. He provides ample business concepts, jargons and formalities that goes in Second Life real estate business corroborating it with live case studies. It tells you how to buy or rent a piece of land, how to get a fair price value, how to look for property on new servers, When to resell, how to weigh risks and reduce losses if any.

Prices fluctuate just as in real world with speculation. Land prices in second life dropped to as low as 6 Linden dollars per meter and have been as high as 13 Linden dollars per meter. Real estate that attracts more traffic(number of people) indicates how popular a place is and is thus more expensive.

The procedure of buying a piece of land is as natural as buying in the real world. Like determining the shape of the land. Is it a residential plot? If it is, your corporate building wouldnt fit there. If it a business area, your bungalow would be out of place. Are the neighbours around good enough to bear? You may want to go around and talk to them to be doubly sure of any doubts.

You will be intrigued to read instances like this. Some excerpts:
"The Mainland is zoned into two main categories: PG (parental guidance) and mature. Basically, in a mature simulator you can wander around naked and hop up and down while uttering curse words. You can do these things as long as you do not harass another user, and it is doubtful that the hopping up and down will offend anyone. PG is less easy to interpret, because one person's PG may be another person's X-Rated. Your discretion is strongly advised, and be wary—it's quite likely that no matter where you are, someone's mother is lurking and ready to pounce on what she considers deviant behavior.

One of the problems is related to zoning on the Mainland, the area managed and maintained by Linden Lab. For example, you might purchase a plot of land in a mature area that you consider residential, build a house, plant a garden, and decorate—then within a few moments someone could be erecting a mall next door, or even making smaller parcels of land next to you to sell advertising space for everything from textures to virtual escort services and outright pornography. It happens, it continues to happen, and there are no solutions that have been set forth regarding this at the time of this document being published."

Some flourishing self made businesses are:

Escape!, run by Kya Eliot and Ferret Bjornson, creates ladies fashion as well as buildings (mainly medieval) and scripted items. Months of effort and 16-hour days have allowed Ferret and Kya to create many things and, especially with ladies clothing, develop a loyal following.

The wedding planner

Kande Knox has been running a wedding business full time within Second Life for at least a year. She started off as a supplier and creator of custom items for weddings, and eventually people started asking her to do weddings. These days, she provides mainly a service for people who wish to have their avatars wed, and this business keeps her occupied full-time. Since she reuses objects she builds and has built, there is little issue with item permissions.

The banker
Midas Commons is a reputable banker in Second Life who doesn't really use much of the Second Life skills in the context of business, compared to the other business discussed here. He, like other bankers, uses his real-world experience in combination with use of Second Life technology and finance to enable interest rates for accounts for other residents within Second Life, as do other reputable banks within Second Life.

These are the some the businesses out of hundred others handpicked to share it with you.

The book though is a delight to read, looked like the publisher was in a hurry to release it before the hype ebbs. A lot more details could have gone into it. But considering it is the first among the few books on Second Life, they would sell like hot cakes on face value.

But yes, defintely a good starter for someone thinking to start a business in Second Life.


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