Reaching out: SL as a platform for “outside” events?

Following on the heels of this year’s Fantasy Faire, follow blogger and Lord of Dee Ciaran Laval comments that Outside Companies Should Create Their Own Second Life Faires. In it, he examines how external companies and authors – notably in the fantasy business – could use Second Life as a promotional tool and could, together with the Lab and SL itself, greatly benefit from doing so.

Fantasy Faire: demonstrating the viability of SL as an events platform?
Fantasy Faire: demonstrating the viability of SL as an events platform?

And he has a point. As Zander Greene pointed out in The Drax Files special on Fantasy Faire, when all is said and done, Second Life is one of the most cost-effective mediums for fundraising – and the same is true of global outreach. Yes, the cost of server space isn’t cheap, but when compared to the cost of venue hire, etc., and the scope of what can be laid-on, it is an intensely cost-effective medium.

In his article, Ciaran looks specifically at the case of fantasy and the opportunities of fantasy-focused MMOs and authors. However, I’d suggest that the potential reach here is far greater – and while some may shudder at the thought of SL returning to the bad old corporate-focused days of 2008-2010, this needn’t necessarily be the case.

Rather, there are mechanisms which, although dormant / disbanded / forgotten, could actually be revitalised and used to the benefit of both the Lab and the platform.

For example, for several years, the Lab ran the Solution Providers programme. This provided a means by which corporate entities could get in contact with people with expertise both within SL and a range of other disciplines they could harness to help develop an in-world presence. Such a scheme could be implemented by which those organisations could connect with in-world content creators and sim builders who can develop the necessary in-world environments on which their could host faires and promotional events.

The promotional poster for the event
The SL Science Fiction convention in 2012 saw real-world TV personalities Jonathan Frakes, Garrett Wang and Richard Hatch appearing in-world. SF conventions are a major crowd-pulling draw

A collaborative marketing venture by which LL would seek to promote SL as a venue for conventions / faires and such-like and which demonstrates its viability as such, specifically targeted at key market audiences while at the same time folding-in the in-world expertise of the community to make things happen, could be enormously beneficial to all.

Of course, things would have to be carefully managed, and additional capabilities put in place. LL would, for example, have to be willing to handle the marketing effort and work to overcome the more negative perceptions many have of SL as either being “unsuitable” for their market or “dead”. They’ve also have to work creatively to demonstrate the power of the platform as a promotional medium and suitable venue for such events and be willing to work cooperatively with sections of the community.

More practically, things like how the prospective visitors for a focused faire could be readily brought-in to Second Life and not only arrive at their intended destination, but also understand the basics of avatar  / viewer use would need to be carefully considered. However, these are not insurmountable issues. In terms of avatar use, it’s likely that in the case of MMOs and the like, users will already have a grasp of basic movement controls, and the rest could be simplified through the provision of a specialised viewer, possibly based around the old “basic” viewer (but with a few enhancements). And if that viewer includes a means by which the user can opt to download the “full” viewer (even as a separate install option) by which they can explore the rest of Second Life, then potentially so much the better.  And putting in place a sign-up process which successfully delivers incoming users to a desired venue also shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

Obviously, everything would require careful management – not the least, as Ciaran again touches upon, the possible reaction of some sections of the SL community itself – and this might not be considered worth the time and effort by the Lab. There would also need to be some careful balancing of the scales – for example, I personally wouldn’t wish to see something like Fantasy Faire, with its very clear focus on RFL, being usurped by a more commercial endeavour.  However, I do believe that the idea has merit and that the Lab would be foolish to pass completely on at least investigating the potential here.

The possible benefits are clear: SL would gain broader recognition; there could be an opportunity for LL to establish another modest revenue stream which may actually attract more users into Second Life (with the additional benefits that would bring). Those companies utilising the ability to use the platform as a promotional environment get to stage a rich, immersive and global outreach opportunity which may equally gain them users and expand their networking opportunities without being tied to a more costly investment in SL which may not gain them the same level of return in attracting users, etc., and so on.

As such, the idea could well be worth exploring. Danko Whitfield comments on Ciaran’s post that there is a degree of this kind of promotional activity already occurring within OpenSim. So why shouldn’t the Lab look into the feasibility of grabbing something of the market, particularly as they could be well-placed to attract some of the big players?

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2 thoughts on “Reaching out: SL as a platform for “outside” events?

  1. Thank you, I focussed on Fantasy elements as I was so impressed with the Fantasy Faire event but you’re quite right, there’s a whole lot of other areas where this concept has potential and you have made a brilliant point about Solution Providers.

    Danko’s comment was wonderful, I’d love to find out more about how OpenSim are taking a lead here.

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    1. It’s a fascinating idea / concept, potentially with much to offer. Kudos for bringing the idea up for wider discussion 🙂

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