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Why Spend Time on Second Life?

We got an e-mail the other day from a certain Sara in Chicago. She had a question about the virtual world Second Life, but it could be asked of many pursuits, virtual and otherwise. (Even though I’ve never visited Second Life, I have been thinking about this issue lately since I have become a gold farmer for my own kids, on Webkinz — although frankly, they are better than me at earning KinzCash.)

I like Sara’s question because, on some dimensions, the answer/s may seem obvious; but as we all know, open-ended questions like this one often yield answers that aren’t obvious at all.

Here’s her question. What do you have to say?

I’m wondering what the economic benefit is for users of Second Life. Businesses and entrepreneurs who advertise or set up shop on Second Life have the economic goal of transferring that to real-life means. But what economic gain do users get from it? All I can figure out is that they spend a lot of real money for intangible things in a made-up world.

What am I missing?