cornfield.jpg Sometime GSW blogger Tonyw has been getting drunk at SXSW, and in between, managed to document some fascinating Second Life-related stats in a SXSW session, as presented by Peter Ludlow, Glenn Thomas, and Reuben Steiger, who are all involved in the online world in some way, either as Linden Lab employees, bloggers, or simply interested parties.

Some notable stats came up from Linden evangelist Steiger, who noted (this is in Tony's paraphrased versions): "160,000 residents of SL... $60M of material is sold annually... 3,000 people are making about $20k each on average annually", before Ludlow, who is the former Second Life Herald blog publisher, and much more honest about some of the, uhh, seedier parts of the world, discussed the "tabloid economy" of Second Life", before referencing "a sim-crashing "nuke" sold for $400 USD [it's a weapon that causes a denial of service attack]", and that "[the] sex industry is an extension of the real world sex business in some cases, SL fees are sometimes close to real world prices." [See the v. v. NSFW SL-Escorts.com for more info on this.]

But most interesting is the furor that's erupted after Steiger's comments on the now defunct third-party Gaming Open Market money exchange system, which, according to Tony, were: "Gaming Open Market (GOM) was a case where they were taking a 3% cut of transactions. when they started, transactions were infrequent and in small amounts... late last year the volume was $100k per day... the bind we were in was that these two guys (GOM) weren't making the service trustworthy and work well... we tried to buy them... our final recourse was to introduce a competing product."

This has caused the Second Life forums to come ablaze, since GOM was generally trusted by the populace, and has already spawned a comment by Linden employee Steiger, who apologizes: "This came up in the context of explaining virtual currency to a general audience I was speaking off the cuff about both real and hypothetical examples. I'd like to state very clearly that I had no intention of disparaging Gaming Open Market or the guys behind it, Jamie and Tom, and I am sorry if my comments could be interpreted otherwise." In conclusion... youch.