Real-world programmer turns real estate agent in Second Life

Second Life entrepreneur talks business

Ever thought of throwing in the towel with the tired 9 to 5 work regime of the real world? West Australian IT student Adam Frisby found his escape in the virtual economy of Second Life.

The virtual world was originally created by Linden Labs as a social experiment, and now hosts more than 1.5 million residents who, in total, spend about US$650,000 per day. Second Life's entire economy is currently worth over 1 billion Linden dollars (L$), which converts to roughly AUD$54 million via the game's own stock exchange.

Much like how real-world commerce operates, Linden dollars are used in-game for the buying and selling of land, goods and services. Second Life allows its residents to build literally anything they can imagine, using its developing tools and a C/Java-style language called the Linden Script Language.

For a skilled programmer, creating items in Second Life can be a job that offers variable hours, room for creativity, and huge potential for profit. Frisby, who is known in-world by his moniker 'Adam Zaius', is a Second Life entrepreneur whose business is expected to reap revenues in excess of AUD$1 million during the next 12 months.

Liz Tay speaks with Frisby about his Second Life as real estate developer.

How does your job work?

I run an Australian business called DeepThink with a Canadian business partner. We provide real estate (regions) inside Second Life which people can lease from us. Our biggest project is the Azure Islands which has over 100 regions, simulating an area larger than several small nations.

How much time do you spend working in-game?

It depends on the day - a lot of the work I do is spontaneous - on busy days I can spend up to 18 hours logged in, on quiet days as little as one or two. We now have four people on contracts with us to help out with the volume of work, but even still there's a lot that needs to be done.

What is your average day like?

I usually wake up at around 3AM so I can catch the end of the US business day. At the start of the day, I answer any messages that have been sent to me overnight while sleeping - from then on, it's designing new regions. I usually get through one or two new regions each day. There's a bit of everything required - programming and scripting for interactivity, texture design using Adobe Photoshop, modeling and terraforming using the client's own tools. There's certainly a market which would let us outsource these things, but we prefer to keep them 'in house'.

How much money is there to be made in Second Life?

The amount of money you can make is directly tied to real world skills - texturing skills, programming, etc. An established clothing designer I know makes around US$80,000 a year on a catalogue with more than 1,000 items. There's very little in the way of hourly contract jobs outside of a few small groups - but there's plenty of room for entrepreneurial activity if you can stand the hours.

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Liz Tay

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