Thursday, April 12, 2007

Virtual Camping

Throughout Second Life you find happy campers and sturdy dancers. At least, when I first noticed them I thought they were happy. A bunch of people having fun dancing on the beach, sitting near a campfire telling tales to eachother.

It was not much later I learned that these are not tourists traversing the Metaverse, but plain beggars. Camping and Dancing is a way to make money and is certainly not the romantic, fun or relaxing activity you'd want your holiday to be. It's a world gone crazy!

Second Life seems to be littered with these dancing-pods, campfires and money-trees which lure you into participating for a lousy fee (varying from 1 to 25 L$ per 10 minutes). Lately I have done some observing and profiling on these campers.
The obvious thing to notice is that we're almost solely dealing with basic account menbers, i.e. non-paying members who don't get a weekly stipend. Yet they spend hours online (receiving less L$ than wasted on energy bills). About 80% of these members are women who seem to spend lots of money on clothing and face-lifting. They're good looking and could easily pass for members who buy a few thousand Linden dollars to look good.

So a lot of time and effort is put into making those few bucks and looking good. To what end? I tried to start a conversation with one stunning beauty, but she was too busy to answer. Well, she's making 25 bucks per 10 minutes, so I gave her L$ 50, that would buy me some time to get an answer I thought... Well it came a few hours later. The lady in question was not very talkative, too busy.

So what's the use of spending hours in Second Life, working hard to get money to look good, then don't have time for a social life to show it? I took the liberty of speaking to one of the managers.
CS: oh they are [talkative]- once you get to know them ...they are always chatting to me..too much even lol which is great
VeeJay Burns: I'm trying to figure out why they spend hours online for a few lousy bucks, then spend all that money in order to look goodfand have no time to socialize[
CS: Well, I think there is a community feel that keeps them together. They have joined the camping community, wherever they are. So they get to know each other. There are many nationalities here - some do not speak English that is probably hampering conversation a tad.
VeeJay Burns: any idea what age category they're in? Are they teenagers who don't have credit cards
CS: ah no, they are all mature adults mainly.
VeeJay Burns: okay, and mostly female it seems
CS: for sure but a fair sprinkling of men campers too
VeeJay Burns: how much are they making on average
CS: gosh now you are asking ! not a lot anyway in a week, we pay out very little
VeeJay Burns: in short, you're paying them a few bucks to keep your place popular?
CS: Not really. We have other reasons and actually, there are loads of camping places around but half of them are empty, people seem to like the atmosphere here -camping aside

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