MLB.Com Holds Virtual Home Run Derby

 When this blog was created, we never intended to have a glut of posts about the same medium, but this one was just too good to pass up because it touches on two previous posts.

Major League Baseball, or more specifically,, has partnered with the Electric Sheep Company to present a virtual Home Run Derby in Second Life. I’m not quite sure how they’re going to do it, but apparently the virtual Home Run Derby will feature a real-time reenactment of the real-life Derby, complete with “live-updating scores and avatars for all eight Home Run Derby Players.”

Tickets for the event, which cost 1000 Linden Dollars (roughly the equivalent of $3 U.S.), went on sale this morning on virtual world commerce site The Derby itself takes place on Monday, July 10, at 5 p.m. PDT, in a virtual stadium on Baseball Island. A live scoreboard will keep updates stats on total number of home runs, farthest homerun, and average distance of each player. Next to the stadium is a store that sells virtual clothing for fans.

Even though I’ve never been a die-hard baseball fan, I think this is actually a pretty cool idea. While it’s possible for a brand to plaster billboards and signs all over the place within a world like Second Life or even build an exact duplicate of one of its stores within the world, both of those ideas follow a reality-grounded frame of thinking that’s too limited in its approach.

The benefit of virtual worlds is that they allow people to do things outside the constraints of normal reality. In Second Life, for example, every character is born fully-formed and with the ability to fly… kinda like Athena, except for that whole rupturing-from-someone’s-head bit. Virtual worlds are like magical realism – the ordinary mashed together with the miraculous. Advertisers need to understand that before making forays into virtual worlds.

This is part of a larger trend for how advertising is changing. In reality past, advertisers had to answer the question of best to represent their brand, how to get the best placement, how to appear appealing to consumers. In a world where appearances are deceptive, it is imperative that we now address issues of interaction and engagement, and virtual worlds provide an awfully ideal setting for that. Instead of just saying that your energy drink gives its drinkers wings, how would you like to actually do it? What if a pair of athletic shoes actually made their user faster, stronger, better than the rest of the population? What if a new perfume literally could attract people to its wearer?

Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

What do you see?