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Second Life To Charge For Vanity Names

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Posted 06 April 2007 - 07:03 AM

A recent Associated Press article revealed that Linden Research is preparing to offer residents of the virtual world Second Life the opportunity to customize their characters' first and last names, for a price. Under the current arrangement users can give their avatar nearly any first name they choose, but are restricted to a rotating list of surnames. The new naming feature is set to debut near the end of this year and will cost $100 initially and $50 a year to maintain the custom name.

The 3-D fantasy world's operators, San Francisco-based startup Linden Research Inc., have approved special names to only a select group of high-profile members, including IBM Corp. Chairman Samuel J. Palmisano and Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards. So far the company hasn't charged for them.

The company's business development team decided to create a vanity name feature in part to help legitimize the growing number of executives, political candidates and other famous people who stage rallies and give stump speeches in the virtual world.

With the new feature, Linden Research will try to verify that avatars with high-profile names belong to same-named owners. For now, it's nearly impossible to determine the offline identity behind any avatar.
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