Real places recreated part two: Modern-day cities

Real places recreated part two: Modern-day cities. The last three months in Second Life has seen a rise in the number of real modern-day cities being created and in particular European cities.

So why create a virtual city?

One reason is familiarity. Second Life is a new frontier, a world largely created in a chaotic manner. There is no real sense of urban planning or understanding of ‘where places are in relation to others’. If you can simply teleport from one place to another then the role of roads (for example) have less importance than in the real world (although the brand map gives a context for companies in Second Life).

Order the new K Zero travel and tourism case study here.

But, clearly for a lot of people, being placed into a virtual version of a city is a welcoming feature. For those people that live in or know the city in question it creates a strong sense of community – they know what’s around the corner, literally. And particuarly for newer residents this can be a major benefit because knowing the places they are in gives a sense of context not always available in a location new to them. The difference between being lost or being familiar with where you are. Taking this idea a stage further, it might make sense for the new brand-managed orientation islands to adopt a virtual city approach as parly of the overall strategy of hand holding new residents.

For other people it allows them to explore cities they have never been to. Websites offer pictures and videos of places but virtual worlds have the edge here because you can be placed inside the city, being able to see the size of buildings, the architecture etc and actually experience the place from the ground up (or of course top down if you’re flying). The is a major opportunity for tourism marketing organisations.
So, re-creating cities in Second Life clearly resonates with a large majority of residents and attracts a lot of traffic. Familiarity breeds content, so to speak.

What about the future applicatons for virtual cities?

Testing real-world urban and town planning is an obvious application with benefit to different stakeholders. The planners can quickly and cost-effectively assess different options for area layouts and environmental impact. The people living or working in the areas themselves can actively participate in the process by being able to virtually place themselves in the project.

The relocation sector is another vertical with potential benefits. These companies move families and individuals from (typically) one country to another. Aside from the physical aspect of relocating people and belongings, another service they offer is orientation – ‘bedding’ people into new towns and cities. In this content, being able to visit and learn about a city (virtually) before actually visiting saves time and money.

Officals in Boston are currently developing a project to create parts of city in order to reach out into the demographic profile in SL residents living in the city (and beyond).

Here’s some real cities created in Second Life:

Virtual Dublin (here’s more information and the SLurl).

Barcelona, complete with the Columbus monument. (SLurl).

Knightsbridge – SLurl.

Munich. Here’s an article about this project.

Frankfurt with Slurl.

Galveston – one of the first tourism marketing projects.

Amsterdam (story). Sold in March for $50,000 (USD).