Friday, March 28, 2008

Real Life Businesses in Second Life


Recently James and I set out to look at the real businesses in our virtual world, mainly looking at the car industry. We are all aware of the hype surrounding a new RL business coming into SL, and lately, more often pulling out of Second Life, Mercedes are the latest to announce their departure after Pontiac.

My honest opinion? Considering I am a non driver in RL I had a great deal of fun! Zipping around the tracks trying out the huge loop-the-loop on Nissan island, finding the code to get your own free car or answering the challenge of Mazda, jump the gap and keep the car :) (It took James 3 tries LOL)

From what we saw Nissan have certainly got the right idea of how to show their product to its best advantage with plenty of information and a lot of fun activities which had kept people coming to the sim even though there were no staff on hand at any time we visited, there were still avatars having fun. The only disappointment was the boxy look of the virtual model, with sculpties nowadays a better model could be constructed although the internal detail was good. Mazda also was populated and set in beautiful surroundings too. The Mazda Hakaze was also one of the best built representations we saw, although, only having a simple drive script it may have limited real drivers enjoyment.

Peugeot disappointingly were actually selling their models rather than giving them away and we were quickly bored, very much set out as a RL showroom - yes there was a road but if you wanted to see it you had to get a bike since you couldn't Rez your car to get around. All in all a disappointment they obviously had spent no time in SL and had no idea how to best use it to sell their product.

How should Real businesses set about using Second Life? Well I am no marketing expert but if you don't make it fun and give people something to do then you are unlikely to succeed. You need to provide the information in a fun and interesting way, I believe Nissan have seen the possibilities the best out of the ones we visited, closely followed by Mazda.

To an extent it's the same as browsing the Internet for information on cars, BUT its much more fun and relaxed, Why go to a stuffy showroom if you can walk on a tropical beach and and enjoy the looks of your new car at sunset?

Can Second Life be used to sell real products? I believe it can if it is done in the right way. Just don't take us all for suckers and give us some real info to go with the free models!


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Addition : Second Life was much more in the public eye than it is now, seen as the darling of the tech media, and attracting attention among those whom would ordinarily dismiss such things as "geeky." It was to the point real life businesses wondered if they could use Second Life as a means to make money. I myself saw numerous companies such as Circuit City, Manpower, IBM, and many others here. Among these were car companies.

Real life companies more often than not found Second Life a confusing place. It didn't help that most didn't try to recruit local talent, but try and learn and do things on their own. As James and Dana wrote, the results were often disappointing for Second Life residents and real life companies themselves as they didn't get the results they desired. Eventually, the car companies would move on, leaving the Second Life auto market to local talent. (Bixyl Shuftan)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Space Shuttle Landing Viewed at ISM

While the Space Shuttle Endeavor landed at Cape Canaveral at 5:39 PM SL time, March  26, at the International Space Museum (ISM) the landing was seen by those watching the live NASA broadcast shown there.

Set up in the middle of the "Spaceport Alpha" sim, the stage has two viewscreens visible to those whose computers can use Quicktime. Space shuttles and landings are shown when they happen.

The landing had originally been scheduled at 4:05 PM SL time, but weather conditions briefly postponed it. This was probably the reason for the small attendance, "Let them know there were some space gurus here, and could always use others. They'd have a great time, great learning experience."

The Shuttle Endeavor STS-123 mission launched on March 11, at 11:28 AM SL time. Here at the ISM, people had been gathering over an hour before the launch, though the launch time was too late for some (including this reporter) to watch the actual takeoff.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Therapy in Second Life - Support for Healing

I recently stumbled across a mental health therapy group in Second Life - "Support for Healing," based on the sim of the same name: SupportforHealing.

Stated on their card: "Supportforhealing is a group of people that believe that recovery from depression, emotional trauma, and mental and physical illness can be greatly enhanced by loving kindness and friendship. We are not aligned to any religion (our volunteers come from all spiritual backgrounds) and believe in the equality of all people."

Making some inquiries, an interview was arranged with one of the leaders of the group, Industria Dowler.

Bixyl Shuftan: So when did you first get the idea of a support group for mental health in Second Life?

Industria Dowler: Well, the founder, John Palmer (Zafu Diamond in SL) started SFH as a website forum. He figured that people get treatment from professionals, they have families and friends, but sometimes they go home to an empty house and need additional support.

Industria Dowler: At some point he heard about SL and decided to start SFH here.

Bixyl Shuftan.: Did those on the website all come here, or did it start small and grow?

Industria Dowler: I think it started small and grew. Not everyone who uses the forums comes to SL and not everyone who comes to SL uses the forums. But they are both available for people who need them.

Bixyl Shuftan: How many people usually come to the support groups?

Industria Dowler: For the depression groups I run it ranges between 5-30. There are usually more in the beginning of the meeting and they tend to leave slowly and more come in.

Bixyl Shuftan: Are there other groups here?

Industria Dowler: Yeah, there are groups for anxiety, weight loss, relationships, women, and GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) issues.

Bixyl Shuftan: The island itself is pretty detailed. How long did it take to build?

Industria Dowler: I'm not sure. It was mostly built by Luna Bliss along with Zafu and a few others. I know it's gone through changes since I've been here. I imagine there will be future changes at some point since there is some unused space on the island.

Bixyl Shuftan: Do you think the environment helps with the people in your group?

Industria Dowler: I think to some extent. It's easier to feel comfortable in a nice environment. And when people are comfortable they are able to share and can get the support they need.

Plus it's a good place to relax and many members say they feel creative when they are here.

Bixyl Shuftan: Creative? People can build things here?

Industria Dowler: They used to but we've had issues with griefers and people leaving things behind. At some point I plan to make an area on the island dedicated so people can build and whatnot. But people were leaving things all over and it took away from the general aesthetics.

Bixyl Shuftan: Does anything happen on your island besides the group sessions?

Industria Dowler: People often hang out here. Occasionally, we've had other events. Last year we had a celebration for summer solstice and we had a DJ and there were other events.

The Thinkers host their meetings here although they aren't affiliated with us. The founder is a Buddhist so he has a small parcel dedicated to talks about Buddhism. There is also a member who hosts a discussion group about Buddhism occasionally.

Bixyl Shuftan: How did the Celebration for the Summer Solstice turn out? Was that the most unusual thing that happened here?

Industria Dowler: Apparently, there was a great turn out and they said it was a lot of fun. I couldn't make it myself. :(

Unusual? Probably compared to the typical support groups. We try to do something fun and relaxing once in awhile. I'd like to set up a part of the island for people to play and hang out. No set plans for that yet, though.

Bixyl Shuftan: Back to the sessions, what would you say were among your more unusual cases?

Industria Dowler: Well, I don't like to go into detail about other people's personal things but we deal with the whole gamut. Mild symptoms, severe symptoms, medication issues and questions, questions about therapy, people feeling suicidal. But we always encourage people to see professionals because we can't take the place of that. We can only improve the healing process by being here for people to talk or listen.

We get people with serious RL issues, people who want to discuss SL issues, and of course griefers.

Bixyl Shuftan: I take it the griefers can be downright annoying.

Industria Dowler: They can, but we take care of them quickly.

The group's website is . To join the group in Second Life, just use the Search for it, and join. The current membership was listed at over 850. The group also accepts donations, "any donations, even a single linden are welcomed. You can make donations on the island via the 'wells', Zafu Diamond, Twickle Rosebud, Specky Zaftig, or Industria Dowler.  Also look for our fundraising vendors on the island where you can purchase items and the proceeds go to SFH."

"Thank you so much!"

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Baron and I, Part Deuce

When my fellow newsies and I had our scheduled meeting, one of the sticking points was Baron DeSantis being in the slammer in Ghul Prison. After IMing him through the cell phone he managed to find, we decided to try to teleport him over. It worked, and he was able to stick with us part of the time, including the group photo in which he sported a collar. With other furred folk often sporting ones of their own (much more comfortable ones) and myself not usually having one, I couldn't help but find some amusement in it.

But Baron couldn't help but look over his shoulder. I suggested that he just avoid the Ghul, but he felt he couldn't avoid them, so the best thing was to teleport back into his cell to avoid a serious pummeling. And if he wasn't spotted, he'd get off scot-free. So we sent him back, hoping this was the case.

Later on, I got a call from him via the IM. After initial greetings, it seems he hadn't made a clean entry after all.

Baron DeSantis: I've been a bit tied up (no pun intended) at the prison. Got really in trouble when I got back from the newspaper meeting. A judge saw me TP back and went ballistic.
Bixyl Shuftan: Oops.
Baron DeSantis: Big oops, he was the one that slammed me in iso in the first place.
Bixyl Shuftan: Not often someone gets in trouble for breaking IN.
Baron DeSantis: It was the 'going out' that did it (laughing out loud).

It was then that he spotted that very judge approaching the cell, so he had to hide the cell phone. He called me later with an update on his situation.

Baron DeSantis: Jeez, he's letting me out of iso EARLY, 2 days early.
Bixyl Shuftan: Well, a little good news.
Baron DeSantis: Yes but why is the worry.
Bixyl Shuftan: Hmmm, hopefully just to make you wonder why.
Baron DeSantis: Scary place the tower. *shivers*

We talked about options on what to do. With the gun turrets and attack helicopter, it was unlikely an aircraft or dragon could get anyone out from the yard. With escape unlikely, perhaps he could at least find out about those who tried to pass the time.

Bixyl Shuftan: Hmmm, I suppose for a story,  you could always ask the prisoners about the more spectacular escape attempts.
Baron DeSantis: great idea. I was given an inmates confession, but it's too much, even for red light. *shivers* ... she is a cannibal you see.
Bixyl Shuftan: Uh oh.
Baron DeSantis: Keeps trying to hug me an' give me a love bite - aaaaarrrrrrrrrgggggggh.

It would seem even if he does get out, arranging a date with him and a vampire batgirl would not be a good idea.

He was silent for a few more minutes, then:

Baron DeSantis: Sorry, was talking to head guard, has come to take me back to general population yippee
Bixyl Shuftan: Hopefully that's good.
Baron DeSantis: Free, well kind of (laughing out loud).
Baron DeSantis: Back in the sun and fresh air.

It was then he got a look outside.

Baron DeSantis: Jeez, they have made the walls even higher now.
Bixyl Shuftan: Oh? Hopefully you still have showers and sink.
Baron DeSantis: Need a shower for sure, damn better check the sink ... oh and they even put in a washing machine because I complained my prison uniform was smelly (laughing out loud).

It was about this time I had to depart, and had to cut the call short. Baron didn't mind too much, with his luck having gotten a little better for now, "See you later, boyfriend."

Boyfriend? O.O *meep*

Somehow, the lady cannibal doesn't seem so scary now.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sparks Ignite Reopens

Sparks Ignite was originally opened in the Star Bright sim by Sparklin Indigo in January 2008. Part of the inspiration for it's name came from the dance floor, dazzling stars and lightning arc effects. It did well, and hosted parties almost every night.

But at March 1, Ignite had to close it's doors and move. "I'm going to miss Star Bright," Sparks told me, " 'Sparks Ignite and Star Bright' had a certain ring to it." So she found a new place, at the Deyo sim, which may make some think of that one Jamaican song, "Daaaayyyyyo." Sparks went to work on rebuilding the club. And on Sunday March 9th, it officially reopened, with StormShadow Maertens as DJ.

The club as the same dazzling dance floor as before, along with the dance ball and several pairs of dancing poseballs. It still has the couches where one can sit between dances, able to adjust their position on them. But it also has something new, a couple of floating platforms which one can hop on and dance on as they tilt.

The parties at Sparks Ignite can range from mild to wild, themes ranging from Country Music Night, to silk dances where little is left to the imagination. The Truth or Dare question machine can certainly make for some candid moments, and a few of the regulars are known for pushing the limits with skimpy costumes during certain themed parties and occasional antics. But outright gratuitous nudity and obscene behavior are grounds for being asked to leave.

And the DJs Sparks has over are first class, from StormShadow, to Blarion Gazov, OtisDriftwood Vollmar, Nelliehope Heron, Pixiedust Darkstone, Mawam Klabov, and others.

Says Sparklin, "I want Sparks Ignite to be a place that everyone that comes here, has fun, and knows that they are among friends!"

So for a dance party with lots of spark, head to "Ignite."

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, March 7, 2008

Proposed Ad: Circuit City SL Ipod giveaway update!

We have had two winners already!

Micala Lumiere - Found in Manager's Office of Theater

Aalanna Destiny - Found near the DJ booth in the dance club.

        To celibrate the of the launch of Circuit City's new sim in second life we are giving away a total of ten Ipods over the next six weeks as part of our "Explore and Win" promotion. The new Circuit City location is 166,246,59 and the official rules and more details are listed on the signs found throughout the Circuit City sim. If there are any questions, feel free to speak with Circuit City's in-world guide, Wyatt Odriscoll, who is in-world from 9:00 - 6:00pm EST Monday thru Friday.

This ad never did get published, though it does help remind that big real-life business was once very interested in Second Life.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Opening a Can of Wyrms

When I had heard about Baron DeSantis getting arrested, I was as outraged as anyone else. I thought of giving him a visit, but not exactly looking human, thought those Ghul jokers would lay charges on me for being an illegal alien. But as they were willing to let him go if enough was donated to the American Cancer Society, I went ahead with a contribution. I guess it was enough, they let him go.

After finishing up some business in my office, I thought about IMing Baron to say hello, see how he was doing. But someone called me first, my friend Sparklin Indigo. She invited me over, so I agreed and was teleported over ...

And I found myself not next to a tall beautiful blonde (a smart one), but a huge golden dragon. The next thing I noticed was that it seemed to be dancing to the music around us. There was snow on the ground, and nearby three Easter Island style statue heads dressed up whimsically with hats and scarves.

The dragon smiled, and spoke in Sparklin's voice, "Hi there, it seems wherever I go, people want to have a party." Around us, I could see other dragons, some large, some small, also dancing away. Other than one winged pixie, I was the only non-dragon here. Or rather, non-wyrm. A nearby sign read "Isle of Wyrms."

Sparklin had gotten herself a charm that allowed herself to take on the form of a dragon. And as everyone around us just wanted to have fun, I went ahead and joined in the dancing. It must've been quite an odd sight, a pixie, a foxfolk, and all those dragons dancing away.

Sparks and I talked about a few things, including Baron getting arrested and being let go after enough cash was donated to charity. I went ahead and IMed him again to see what was going on. I didn't get an answer right away, but he eventually did. I greeted him, and asked how he was now. Baron answered he was okay, all things considered, but was worried about the Ghul-ish police. It seems he had made a friend among the prisoners he couldn't turn his back on, and smuggled in something to help the inmate. He was now worried he might have been found out.

Concerned, I suggested to Baron he go somewhere the Ghuls couldn't reach him and contact legal help. He didn't think it was that simple, feeling that he'd have to keep looking over his shoulder. Then I heard him scream, "Noooooooooo!" Fearful he was going to go through that nightmare all over again, I tried to offer him a teleport, hoping the magic of this land would allow it to work against whatever those Ghuls had. Then I saw him appear in his tuxedo in front of us. He was safe.

So I thought. "Where am I?" he asked, looking around worriedly. "This is the Isle of Wyrms" I explained, telling him everyone around was friendly. It was then I realized he might still be in a little shock from his experience. And suddenly being dragged off to being in the middle of a bunch of big dragons, with sharp teeth and claws, might not be exactly comforting to his mind. I wondered if he might run away screaming. But instead, after making a few barely comprehensible statements about the cops closing in, he fainted.

Sparklin soon had to go, another friend of hers needed a hand, and then I noticed the pixie pushing Baron off to the direction of the river. I got between her and the ice-cold stream, "Where are you taking him?" She just winked at me, "I was only going to show him the fishies." Maybe the magic in this land would allow him to breathe, but even if so, I doubt waking up underwater would be the best thing for Baron's psychological well-being. So I wouldn't let her through, and she pouted and walked off. I pushed my fellow newsie a short distance to safety.

Seeing a nearby store, and thinking Baron was safe, I went over to check on something. Maybe it had a charm that would allow me to take on the form of a local for a decent price. I didn't find anything I needed for the moment, so I went back, and Baron was gone. He wasn't in the river, so apparently he had woken up and ran off.

Did I really help my friend? Maybe instead of the Ghuls, he was yelling from a figment in his imagination. Maybe what he really needs is a good therapist, minister, or bartender. And of course there's me. If he really is running from the Ghuls, they could try going after me for "aiding and abetting," as well as the kind of bovine by-product charge they slapped on Baron to throw him in to begin with.

I may have opened up a "can of wyrms" here.

Bixyl Shuftan