A Nation of Shopkeepers

The third-quarter SL figures came out the other week, and, as usual, tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes. One statistic in particular caught my eye; the number of monthly unique users, which was just over 750000. This reminded me of the results of a survey of the SL economy released in the spring, which estimated there were around 18000 self-identified virtual businesses.

The 750000 figure will include an indeterminate number of alts, and the 18000 enterprises may each employ more than one person (or some people may run more than one business), but, whichever way you look at it, it’s clear that SL entrepreneurs form only a tiny part of the virtual population.

I have no objection to people using the immersive virtual environment that is Second Life as an opportunity to live out their shopkeeper fantasies; whatever floats your boat I guess. However I do find it irksome when this small minority demand that the whole world should be structured to facilitate their particular brand of role-play, even if this grossly inconveniences everybody else, and, when they don’t get their way, threaten legal action that might destroy the entire system.

Linden Lab should adopt a Zindra-style solution to this problem, and set up a special continent where aspiring virtual business people can be segregated. There they would be free to sell each other shoes and sex-beds, sue one another to their hearts’ content, and leave the rest of us in peace to have fun with our second lives.

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