Hard working in Second Life

Several very observing residents have noticed the “real estate market crash” – since the Lindens have added much more land, prices have fallen down dramatically. With the GOM crash last week, this also means that suddenly we didn’t have any way to bring “fresh” money inworld.

Some analysts predict that the L$ will get weaker compared to the US$. The reason is simple: you can buy more land with the same amount of L$, or, seeing it the other way round, you will be able to spend only part of your money buying land, and keep enough for yourself to buy other things, without the need of going to GOM to exchange US$ for L$. What does this mean? Theoretically, it could mean that residents have more money to spend, thus, prices should be driven up by inflation. We’ll see if that’s going to happen or not!

One interesting side-effect is that for a few weeks at least, “land baroning” won’t be so much profitable (the barons will have to buy now a lot of real estate, when it’s cheap, and try to corner the market in a few weeks, when prices go up again…). Means that people have to go… back to work, instead of living from land sales!

Since I don’t have enough money to participate into the “land baroning affairs”, an unskilled resident like me has few options on “getting a job”. Unfortunately, being a dancer, stripper, escort or slave – the best-payed non-skilled professions in SL – is not for my taste. Fortunately, some nice SL company hired me as marketing manager. That’s much more my style!

Ah, but it’s hard. Instead of wiggling my bottom attached to an animated pole for a few hours, while happily chatting around with my friends in IM – that’s what the dancers/strippers do to pass time, you know – I can’t do that. Virtual or not, a marketing manager has lots of almost-real stuff to do – organizing meetings, getting in touch with suppliers and customers, organizing events, doing business plans, meeting with the board, do seminars and other events…

… wait! Do I hear someone yelling “hey, that’s what I do in Real Life, I’m supposed to ENJOY myself in Second Life! And why the heck is all these stuff necessary, after all? Can’t you just put up some vendors and that’s marketing for you??”

What most people fail to understand is that “social climbing” in Second Life – ie. being rich and famous – is HARD WORK. The people at the top of the pyramid are NOT there because they’re “lucky”. No, they did it the hard way, and let me tell you, it’s almost at hard as in the real world. There are differences, of course – the market is much smaller. Actually, if you take all the sims together, you’ll see we live in something like a big city – 6-7 km radius or so, I haven’t measured it properly – which would accomodate a few million people in RL. The number of shops, malls, and clubs are certainly appropriate for the size of the city, BUT we only have 15,000 residents, and perhaps only one third are “regular” residents.

So competition is incredible high. Imagine that your friendly neighbourhood of 3-5,000 inhabitants had 867 shops in the same quarter where you live. And 537 clubs. That’s Second Life numbers for you! How would all of those survive?

The answer, of course, is that they don’t survive. Competition is just too strong. That’s why people still go the same clubs, shop from the same malls, buy from the same suppliers.

Now if you want to go into that line of business, you have to have your feet on the ground and your head firmly between your shoulders. Ok, the market is incredibly competitive, and one good idea this week will have 12 copycats the next one. How do you carve your niche? How will you convince everybody else that your product is more original/better/cheaper than the one just sold next door? In a world without copyrights and patents, how do you ensure a “monopoly”, even a temporary one, just to make sure you sell a few devices or clothes, pay off your investment, and go to the next project?

Whew. The mind boggles. It’s hard, in some ways harder than real world. But, as I heard someone saying at one of the Thinkers’ events, “challenge and risk is what we need to feel fulfilled”. Or, put into other words: “no pain, no gain”.

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