A Home Run Derby In The Virtual World

Second Life
Electric Sheep Company
Attending a sporting event for the first time can be an exciting experience. The thrills, sights and sounds are just some of the things you find on your first encounter. Now just imagine attending that same event in the virtual world.

That's right, imagine viewing an entire sporting event from a virtual environment in your computer. On Monday, July 10, the 3-D virtual world called Second Life hosted in coordination with mlb.com, the 2006 Century 21 Home Run Derby in the virtual world of Second Life. This was a rare instance where a live sporting event was shown simultaneously on TV and in a virtual world.

The event was held on an island named "Baseball" and contained every detail of your typical ballpark. The virtual stadium, constructed by The Electric Sheep Company featured a small shop that sold tons of official mlb.com merchandise such as 2006 All-Star team jerseys, big foam fingers, hats and drinks. The presentation of the game was phenomenal.

Once inside the ballpark, you can see the virtual simulation, in real time, of the Home Run Derby, and the live ESPN broadcast on the jumbotrons in the stadium as well. Residents of the online community in attendance got to enjoy the entire Home Run Derby in the stadium.

Complete with all the stadium seats, screaming fans and trash talking, the event gave residents an unbelievable perspective of the event. Once in your seat, you can talk with other fans or residents in the stadium, and even wave your big foam finger if you had one.

When it was all over, residents of Second Life saw Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies win. Having a sporting event like this gives residents of Second Life the unique opportunity to socialize with each other or with residents from around the world while watching the live event together.

Some might consider Second Life to be an online game and some don't. It falls into that weird gray area where it is considered an MMORPG and its not an MMORPG. Second Life is similar to an MMORPG in the sense of its user interface and layout, but different in its customization created by its residents.

Since its opening in 2003, Second Life is a virtual experience where online members get to create unique avatars to represent whatever or whoever they want to be. In the virtual world you can build anything ranging from buildings to clothes to even your own business. If you want to open your own bookstore in the virtual world, it is possible in Second Life. Freedom in Second Life is virtually limitless.

The world is filled with movie theatres, casinos, dance clubs, shopping malls and anything else its residents create or come up with. It is an actual functioning society in a sense.

For more experience computer users, Second Life has a scripting language that can be used to further enhance your personal virtual creations by allowing you to add features and behaviors to the objects you build. For example, you can design a dog in Second Life, and then write some code to have the dog bark at passers by. Building objects is fairly easy and there are many tutorials available.

However, to enjoy the virtual world of Second Life you do not need to know computer programming. These are only additional tools to further enhance the experience.

If you search the community, you can find hundreds of neat items you can purchase using Linden Dollars, the current form of currency in Second Life. Once on Second Life, members can socialize in this vibrant society. Users can view other members' profiles and instantly become friends.

Memberships are free on Second Life. Anyone can join the community, but premium memberships featuring the ability to own land carry additional fees.

Virtual events such as this Home Run Derby created by the Electric Sheep Company are just some of the cool things you can do in Second Life. Essentially, there are almost no limits in what you can come up with in Second Life.

Perhaps sometime in the near future we can see the Super Bowl in a virtual environment or attend movie screenings with celebrities in a virtual environment. The possibilities are endless.