Some reporting ambitions have changed. The in-world Wired, C-Net, and Reuters bureaus—places that Second Life experts say cost thousands of dollars to build—do not get much traffic. “We had an idea that it would be all about getting people to the [Reuters bureau] island,” Pasick says. “It was a foot-traffic game.” Aside from big interview events, like his virtual sit-down with Arianna Huffington during last year’s G8 summit, however, the place is anything but packed. The bigger marketing success has been the advent of free in-world gadgets that residents can install in their virtual homes or just have hover over their view of the virtual world. These gizmos flash an alert when a new Pasick story arrives, and provide links to his pieces.

Nevertheless, rumors abound that other big media outlets are coming in.

Mistral considers the reporters who are in Second Life for the long term to be the “village storytellers.” They are the small-town press, the people who understand the locals better than the national media that rumble into town only when there’s a sensation, dragging along their stereotypes and biases and preconceptions. A lot of sensation has been happening in the virtual world lately. It’s a sensational place. Connecting people from around the world, it’s a new community—a new city—with new possibilities as well as plenty of chances for the archetypal stories of life, love, and dreams to be chronicled. The avatars may lie. They may offer valuable insights. The numbers may confuse. The controls that move the avatars through this world may confound. You’ve got to breathe it deeply to get it. And you’ve got to answer this question for yourself: In a brand-new world inextricably tied to, and simultaneously free of, the one we were born in, what truly matters?

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Stephen Totilo writes about video games for MTV News.