Holding events in Second Life of one kind or another is not new: people have been doing this since this virtual world started back in 2003.
As more businesses enter Second Life, the idea of including this virtual world as a channel in broad marketing and PR planning makes a lot of sense.
In its simplest sense, Second Life gives you an opportunity to create and develop a personal connection with people in a place where there are no real-world manufacturing or service costs and few barriers to what’s possible.
It represents a completely new way to interact and communicate with people via the internet, enabling you to experiment and learn how to adapt business, marketing and communication models to a new and emerging marketplace, either complementing existing plans or developing new ones. It’s also about breaking new ground and making connections with the Second Life community.
I was there in two related roles. First as a meeter-and-greeter (disclosure: because I’ve been working with Warner Bros Pictures and London-based film marketing company PPC for the past month on communication and planning for this event), and secondly as a participant like everyone else.
I was keen to savour the complete experience of a press event in Second Life about a new movie that had a live question-and-answer session via real-time audio with not only the leading actors and the director but also with legendary graphic novelist Frank Miller on whose graphic novel the film is based.
And the experience did not disappoint.
The format was straightforward: introduction from the host, some initial questions to get things warmed up and then opened up to the participants for them to ask their questions in open text chat that would be moderated by the host and answered by the assembled talent talking in real time. The audio was streamed live into the event so everyone could hear what they had to say.
I’m pretty sure that just about every single one of the 30 or so invited journalists and bloggers who were there on Friday were not disappointed.
That seemed pretty clear from the torrent of questions that came thick and fast in open chat almost from the moment the event kicked off. Subsequent posts in online media channels indicate that – from Larry Carroll at MTV.com, for instance, and this one from Heidi McDonald at The Beat - although not everyone agrees (DiamondDog DuCasse at The Times Online is one who seems disappointed).
In fact, posts and other online content are beginning to appear so you can judge for yourself what each of the assembled media – mainstream and social – thought about the event. What they say looks pretty good.
Two things in particular stand out for me.
First, the assembled talent – Frank Miller; actors Gerard Butler, Lena Heady and Rodrigo Santoro; and director Zack Snyder - were seated in the round, so to speak, to engender a sense of participation with the audience (as the photo above indicates). No barrier-making dias. You definitely wouldn’t get that in a real-world press event.
Second, the Q&A session developed like a conversation rather than the formal answering you tend to get at a normal press conference. Reading the questions being asked in open text chat and then listening to spontaneous comment being spoken provided a real sense of being an active part of a conversation, not purely a witness to any spin-controlled answering (of which there was none that I could tell).
This event is a good indicator of yet another way in which Second Life can be a means to do something a little differently and bring something new to the virtual table, in this case not only a movie but also the leading actors, the director and the writer of the material on which the film is based.
Silverscreen Island features a virtual expo surrounding the movie, including the recreation of some key sets from the film in which you can immerse yourself. The whole venue is very well put together, with imagination and flair.
There’s a gallery of imagery from the film as well as some of the art from Frank Miller’s novel. You can also see some exclusive video, beyond the movie previews that are all over commercial TV in the UK at the moment. And you can also pick up free Spartan kit and weapons for your avatar.
300 opened in the US last week and opens in the UK on March 22 (and see global release dates).