If you’ve been exposed to any of the recent media hype surrounding Second Life you may have come to the conclusion that Linden Lab’s virtual world is some kind of unstoppable force. Second Life membership has accelerated to nearly half-million new signups per month, Linden founder Philip Rosedale seems to be everywhere at once (although it may just be his Avatar), and SL-celebrity Anshe Chung has practically become a household name (at least for readers of Business Week). With so much momentum and positive press what could possibly go wrong?
Oh, I don’t know, maybe something like a Federal investigation into online gambling in virtual casinos.
Of all of the vices that can be found in the Metaverse some translate better than others. Virtual drugs don’t work particularly well — unless you count Second Life as a drug. Virtual prostitution, as creepy as it seems, apparently works for a few people who can get past the possibility that their virtual date might actually be a construction worker in Peoria. Virtual gambling, on the other hand, is a prefect match for Second Life. Online gambling is already a well established industry, and for many, the added social element of a virtual reality world is apparently a big improvement over watching 2-D cards being dealt onto a flat green poker table.