It’s nothing out of the ordinary these days for a broadcaster, particularly the BBC, to make a transmission available on the Internet. But the BBC is taking this one step further and will be broadcasting their One Big Weekend festival inside Second Life. They’ve constructed a massive virtual stage, and are inviting Second Life residents to come along, have a dance, and soak up the music. As far as I’m aware, this is the first virtual music festival I’ve come across. Regardless, it’s certainly the first virtual festival the BBC has arranged.
Second Life is described as “a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents.” It’s essentially a massively multiplayer online environment. What differentiates Second Life from something like Everquest is that there are no “rules”. In fact, there isn’t even a purpose, strictly speaking. The world is fashioned by its residents; using Second Life’s toolset it’s possible to create items, clothing, houses, and even whole new games. It’s difficult for me to describe because I’ve never actually been there.
I’ve been meaning to have a look at Second Life for a while now. It’s a fascinating concept and is far more popular than I ever imagined it would become. I might register over the weekend and give this a go. One of the most suprising things, for me, is that there is a significant amount of money passing through Second Life every month. Theoretically, it’s possible to make a living by creating items in the game and selling them to other residents. Not that the BBC are charging an attendance fee for the concert. I find this to be an incredibly intriguing idea, and I can’t help but think that this is something we’ll see more of in the future.
How many bands might create a virtual representation of themselves to perform virtual gigs? It’s entirely possible that a band has already done this. I am aware of virtual book signings and other social events hosted within Second Life, but when a broadcaster as large as the BBC begins to host events in there you have to take notice. They’ve even created virtual digital radios for players to take away with them, which can be used to listen to Radio One from within the game.
This whole concept reminds me a little of Tad William’s Otherland books, amongst other things. Has William Gibson ever visited Second Life, I wonder?
Have you tried Second Life? I’d be very interested in hearing your thoughts on the virtual world and this event.