Virtual World Business Brands: Entrepreneurship and Identity in Massively Multiplayer Online Gaming Environments
Massively Multiplayer Online Games, also known as virtual worlds, have become increasingly popular sites for branded advertising campaigns. While most in-game advertising efforts involve established corporations working with game administrators to deliver targeted ad campaigns or the development of separate branded worlds, players who frequent some MMOGs are taking matters into their own hands by creating original brands for avatar clothing, virtual vehicles, event hosting services and more. Although amateur virtual brand developers typically have no previous professional experience with advertising or brand building, they use conventional industry tactics such as the creation of memorable brand names, product lines, logos and promotional web sites to create and communicate complex brand identities, spending as much as 50 hours per week promoting and managing their brands. With close readings of four member-developed business brands within the virtual worlds 'There' and 'Second Life', this paper demonstrates how each brand's identity is deeply intertwined with its creator's personal identity and the identity of its parent world. Virtual world business brands originally developed for their creators' own entertainment have unexpectedly turned into profitable enterprises that defy stable definitions of work and play.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 30
Keywords: Virtual worlds, mmog, online gaming, branding, advertising, identity
JEL Classification: M0
Date posted: June 7, 2005