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Computer Power User

In the fast-evolving virtual worlds online, such as, Second Life, and Entropia Universe, the real world of major consumer brands and big tech companies is starting to blur the lines between real and fantasy economies. Toyota, Nissan, IBM, Dell, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, and a cottage industry of marketing firms started rushing the gates of these persistent online universes last fall. The fantasy avatars that people create and the virtual neighborhoods they construct in these worlds suddenly started feeling a bit more real as the same car and computer dealerships they experience in everyday life popped up next door. As we will see in this first part of our two-part coverage, response to this blending of real and virtual economies is decidedly mixed. This month we look at how real-world marketing and branding are penetrating the carefully constructed fantasies of virtual universes. In our second part next month, we explore how the virtual world elements are being purchased, bartered, and sold in the real world.

The Marketers Rush In

The presence of real-world brands in virtual universes is nothing new, of course. When we previewed the launch of the 3D universe several years ago, Levis was selling jeans to residents. Now, is helping MTV power its own 3D online extension of a hit TV show, Virtual Laguna Beach ( Here, the entire world is a branded media experience. In Electronic Arts’ Sims Online, McDonalds pushed burgers. At the wildly popular international world Habbo Hotel (, advertisers such as…

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Insight and Research at the Center for Media Design (CMD) has begun to receive quite a bit of attention from industry publications and mainstream media outlets in the last several years as a groundbreaking and reputable media research organization. This archive is only for educational purpose, if the content involved any copyright issue, please contact: Michelle Prieb:
March 2021



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