Action and Experience In Second Life

The Second Life blogosphere is buzzing about the lawsuit SL resident and well-known virtual sex business operator Stroker Serpentine (real life Kevin Alderman) is filing against someone alleged to be infringing on both his copyright and trademark. The originating story is over on Reuters (Link) where the legal filing is also available for review (Link – PDF).

It’s an interesting case and one which I’ll follow, but it was – based on today’s “sharing” culture – entirely expected.

What I’ve not been able to figure out, however, is why people aren’t finding other solutions to piracy instead of depending on either Linden Lab or the legal system to protect their business. And if they have, why haven’t I read about them? These issues aren’t new, and most successful Second Life businesses are well aware of OGLE (reLink) and CopyBot (reLink). So where are the options?

Well, since it’s been a while since I’ve posted what I believe to be a unique idea – like the pre-blogject RadTag ( reLink) or post-spime kirkyan (reLink) or the workings of a future transreality business operation (reLink) – let me post another which perhaps provides an option.

This concept started to form a couple of years ago while reading a comment somewhere critiquing the Second Life “game”. The complaint was a common one: there’s no way to measure progress.

In games like World of Warcraft, people level up. In straight-forward deathmatches, the kills are counted and rankings posted at the end of the session. And even in Second Life, there was once a ranking system. But with the shift in emphasis from “game” to “platform”, avatar rankings disappeared. Only thing is, lots of people want to chart their progress; they want rankings. They want to know where they stand in comparison to others.

That got me thinking: Why don’t businesses inside Second Life fill this need? Instead of selling just “product”, which is the approach of so many old-school real-life companies, why not sell Experience… in a literal way… that lets people see, share and compare their progress?

And there’s a perfect candidate for such a system.

Stroker Serpentine garnered attention in Second Life for selling (of all things) aftermarket genitalia. And just like the items named in the lawsuit, these are effectively vulnerable to illegal duplication. Yet rather than waiting for the infringement to occur and dealing with a lawsuit, why not apply Experience and Reputation to such items and provide to consumers something a thief can not as easily replicate?

That led me to imagine a product I laughingly referred to as a “Progress Penis”.

Imagine that instead of selling attachments, Stroker sold an Experiential system based on his virtual items. Only these items would be much more interactive; they would, in effect, be more like the smart objects I often discuss here.

Let’s take a poke at what might be included in a hypothetical system:

  • 1) An avatar purchases a low cost attachment (the razor)
  • 2) The avatar then registers this device with its parent service for an additional, recurring fee (the blades)
  • 3) When “used”, information is cached locally and also sent to an external database
  • 4) That data might include – among other things – time used, with whom used, frequency of use, other avies present, time since last use, genders, aso
  • 5) This information would then be parsed and used both as part of a ranking system and as a means to modify the attachment itself
  • 6) Other businesses could be allowed to form around this “infrastructure” and thus potentially enhance its usefulness to the owner
  • 7) The owner winds up with a way to chart activity as well as visually communicate their “level”
  • 8) The company gets repeat business from the service, valuable statistical data, and the option to generate advertising revenue on the business website which provides ranking charts and tables
  • So an avatar engaged in virtual encounters would notice shape and size and color changes as well as performance variations to their private… or not-so-private… attachments. Such changes and variations would be dependent on the information collected, which could be a multi-tiered, opt-in system. Thus, when virtually naked, a visual history of behavior is revealed to other avatars, and as a result, going around in the buff becomes a much more real social activity.

    Now this application is an obvious one for Second Life since cybersex is such a popular activity, but the general idea of in-world developers creating Experiential systems applies to other virtual goods as well. And as demonstrated, it can be more than a simple ranking system; it can create a feedback loop which alters virtual products… and even real products as well.

    Some day, I feel certain virtual activities will routinely link to tangible products. I just hope the first kirkyan isn’t one of these things.

    {Quick update: Lewis informed me of something that started to venture in this direction: the SLStats watch. I’ve just found mention of it and, as suspected, it was being discussed while I was swamped with work on the Virtual Laguna Beach project. In any event, if people have other examples, please pass them along. I’d like to hear of more examples. Thanks in advance.}

    2 thoughts on “Action and Experience In Second Life

    1. There’s money in accessories and aftermarket aftermarkets. I say let a third party offer that service.

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