The rumors of Second Life’s demise are apparently somewhat exaggerated as Linden Labs, creator of the popular virtual world, announced that profits are comfortably over $100M per year and that Q1, 2011 was their best quarter to date. The online 3D community that looks like a game (but isn’t a game) arrived in 2003 and has been the subject of both accolades and ridicule by the media and gaming community alike. Carrying both the promise of a free frontier for innovators and creative thinkers as well as a stigma for giving seedy, weird sex fantasies a place to take root, Second Life does not give the users missions or objectives the way a typical game would. Instead, the user has tools with which to interact with a virtual world and is free to develop their experience there according to their own personal interests and level of commitment. Within it, a virtual economy exists that turns real US dollars into an in-world currency called “Lindens” (worth roughly $4 USD per $1000 Lindens) and encourages trade and commerce.
Second Life surprises the tech world with its longevity (the most common reaction you may find is “that’s still around?”), but has also failed to revolutionize real-world business and education the way some interested and possibly over-excited tech pundits predicted. Never the less, news of strong revenues has raised an eyebrow or two, proving that money can be made by giving people a chance to dress up like demon werewolves who dance to techno music at BDSM clubs.