Second Life: Real Money in a Virtual World

Reuben Steiger and Steve Inskeep check out one of Second Life's most popular clothing stores. i i

hide captionYou can buy an entire virtual wardrobe in Second Life. Here, Reuben Steiger (left) and Steve Inskeep check out one of the virtual world's most popular clothing stores. Inskeep is wearing one of his new finds, a yellow tie.

Millions of Us
Reuben Steiger and Steve Inskeep check out one of Second Life's most popular clothing stores.

You can buy an entire virtual wardrobe in Second Life. Here, Reuben Steiger (left) and Steve Inskeep check out one of the virtual world's most popular clothing stores. Inskeep is wearing one of his new finds, a yellow tie.

Millions of Us

You can make a lot of money buying and selling things that are not real. Second Life has built a booming virtual economy around some little animated characters called avatars.

Avatars live in a computer-generated city, and participants can create their own character for free. For a few pennies here or a dollar there, you can accessorize your avatar with new clothing, a car, even a house.

All that spare change has really started to add up and Second Life has earned hundreds of millions of very real dollars.

Steve Inskeep got a tour of the simulated city from Reuben Steiger, who runs a company called Millions of Us that helps businesses do business in Second Life.

Steiger spoke with Inskeep from a studio in San Francisco as their digital counterparts met outside a theater somewhere in cybertown.

A Second Life to Live

The View from Second Life

Suzanne Vega's avatar (left), and the real thing.

hide captionSinger Suzanne Vega's avatar (left), and the real thing.

Lichtenstein Media
Reuters correspondent Adam Pasick's Second Life avatar and his first-life headshot. i i

hide captionReuters correspondent Adam Pasick's Second Life avatar (left) and his first-life headshot.

Reuters correspondent Adam Pasick's Second Life avatar and his first-life headshot.

Reuters correspondent Adam Pasick's Second Life avatar (left) and his first-life headshot.

Over the last few years, many people's real lives have begun to spill over more and more into their online lives, and the population of virtual worlds is booming. Six and a half million users quest for powers and treasures in the online game site World of Warcraft, and hundreds of thousands live at least part of the time in an online world called Second Life.

For those of you immersed in "first lives," a virtual world is an interactive Internet environment which can be accessed by multiple users. Not all of these worlds are games. In Second Life, some people have businesses that generate thousands of dollars in real money, some socialize, and some attend events that blur the line with the real world.

Former Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) recently held a Q&A in Second Life. Ben Folds performed a concert there, and first-life journalists from CNET, Wired, and now Reuters have opened bureaus in Second Life. And as the economies of virtual worlds develop, some lawmakers are beginning to consider real-world taxes.

Guests and callers talk about what they do in their second lives and why.

Guests:

Adam Pasick, Reuters Second Life bureau chief

Bill Lichtenstein, president, Lichtenstein Creative Media

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