Creativity in Second Life:
the virtual world as a site of experimentation
for fashion start-ups
DIME-CIO-Birkbeck conference on
The Creative Industries and Intellectual Property
Sofia Gkiousou, Birkbeck, University of London
May 08
Research Question
Could Second Life be a good plateau for novice fashion
designers to experiment and gain skills in design,
marketing, customer identification etc?
To answer the question we need to understand
1) Demographics – Social Interaction – Emotional Involvement in SL and
why these might differ from existing MMORPG research findings
2) The characteristics of SL fashion industry in comparison to First Life (FL
fashion industry)
a) Analysis of literature, SL statistics, press, blogs, observation.
b) Pilot interviews: SL fashion vendors/ designers.
Second Life
online persistent 3D virtual world
own Economy (Linden Dollars)
Entrepreneurs & products (because it allowed users to maintain
copyright of everything that they created?)
“Residents” are the users of Second Life, and their appearance
is their avatar (often abbreviated to av, avi or ava).
• The avatar will be created automatically but the resident may
change their appearance dramatically.
SL Statistics
65.000 acres of virtual land
12,765,680 Residents
(but one user does not necessarily equal one resident)
only 92,096 Premium Accounts
US$1 to L$270
* Data from SL Virtual Economy Key Metrics, Jan. 08
Figure 1 – Welcome to SL – orientation for new residents
(captured Feb. 08)]
Just another MMORPG?
Sometimes referred in the literature as a Massively Multiplayer Online
Role Playing Game (MMORPG).
But is it really and MMORPG? Is it even a game?
1. No quests, no levels, no script, no storyline
2. Intellectual rights belong to the user
Instead we consider SL a metaverse (scalability, usability, economics)
Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash, 1992
Demographics & society
MMORPG Literature
Players in their 20s
Majority 25-34
(Yee, 2001 & 2006;Griffiths, Davis & Chappell,
2003; Cole & Griffiths, 2007)
Female av. 16% - 29%
Female av. 40%
(Yee, 2001; Cole & Griffiths, 2007)
Variety of occupations
(Yee, 2006)
Emotional Investment – Social
(Do transactions point to emotional
(McKenna & Bargh, 2000; Yee, 2006; Cole &
Griffiths, 2007
Nonverbal social norms persist in SL (Yee, 2007)
But who is the resident and what are his preferences?
FL Fashion & SL Fashion
FL Fashion
SL Fashion
Some styles will die and be replaced
Medieval clothes, armours, science
fiction etc.
New fashion propagators identified
New fashion propagators unidentified
or depend on the genre
Gatekeepers: critics, press etc.
Blogs, digital magazines, catwalk
Clothing and accessories
Clothing, accessories and ‘skins’
The fashion designer
The SL designer
The ‘design problem’
“I do what I feel like doing” (pilot study
Long Tail
Identity ‘defined’ – consumption
Identity uncertain – production
SL Fashion
1860s Day Dress by Laynie Link of Laynie Wear
(Linden Lifestyles blog,
SL Fashion
Red Dawn in a dress by Last Call in the SL Botanical Gardens
SL Fashion
Mystic Mask
Advertisement in the ‘Linden Lifestyles’ blog
SL Fashion
Skin by Soul in their SL shop
SL Fashion
Skin by Soul in their SL shop
Conclusions & Future Research
• Who is the user – Who is the resident
• Effects of fashion style co-existence
• Variety of products
• Designers engaging in business management, marketing etc.
• The role of the gate – keepers
• Mapping the entire SL fashion system
See the conference submission for full bibliography
Cole, H. & Griffiths, M. (2007) Social Interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Gamers,
Cyberpsychology & Behavior, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp. 575 – 583.
Crane, D. (1999), Diffusion Models and Fashion: A Reassessment, Annals of the American Academy of Political
and Social Science, Vol. 566, The Social Diffusion of Ideas and Things, pp. 13-24.
Griffiths, M.D., Davies, M.N.O. & Chappell, D. (2003), Breaking the Stereotype: The Case of Online Gaming,
Cyberpshychology & Behavior, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 81 – 91.
Hirsch, P.M. (1972) ‘Processing fads and fashions: an organization – set analysis of cultural industry systems’,
American Journal of Sociology, vol. 77, pp. 639 – 659.
McKenna, K. & Bargh, J. (2000). Plan 9 from cyberspace: The implications of the Internet for personality and
social psychology. Personality and Social Psychology Review. Vol. 4, pp. 57-75.
Sproles, G. (1981), Analyzing Fashion Life Cycles: Principles and Perspectives, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 45,
No. 4, pp. 116-124.
Yee, N. (2001). The Norrathian Scrolls: a study of EverQuest version 2.5, (last accessed 17/03/08)
Yee, N. (2006), The Demographics, Motivations and Derived Experiences of Users of Massively-Multiuser
Online Graphical Environments, PRESENCE: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, Vol. 15, pp. 309-329.
Second Life logo from the official website

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