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NEWS8 September 2006

GMI's Menti builds surveys for Second Life

Mario Menti, solutions architect at the MR software and services firm, experiments with ways of surveying residents of the online virtual world

At the end of a hard day's graft, hundreds of thousands of people now choose to escape reality to spend time in Second Life – a 3D virtual world. However, one man has figured out a way to take his work with him.

Mario Menti, a solutions architect at MR software and services supplier GMI, is experimenting with ways of surveying the 282,000 active residents of this online world.

Menti – whose Second Life name is ‘Mario Sonic' – can create objects within the game that detect the presence of another player's avatar ( or character ).

The avatar is then invited to touch the object to take part in a GMI survey, with questions and answers delivered through the game's chat interface.

Surveys trialled so far are “very simple”, said Menti, consisting mainly of yes/no and multiple-choice questions, however open-ended responses can also be collected.

Menti believes more sophisticated implementations are possible though, including virtual product or concept testing.

Second Life residents are already creating their own in-game products, such as vehicles and clothes that can be sold for real-world currency.

And, despite the relatively small-size of the virtual world's community compared to the multi-million member networking sites such as MySpace or Facebook, real-world businesses are starting to make forays into Second Life – one of the most notable being the Starwood Hotels and Resorts chain, which built a replica of its new ‘Aloft' hotel within the game.

According to Second Life's homepage, a total of $329,825 had been spent in-world by residents within the last 24 hours.

For a video demonstration of Menti's Second Life surveys, click here to visit his blog.