When a presidential contender makes an appearance inside an MMO, it shows just how mainstream games have become.
Later today, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) will become the first U.S. politician to create a character - publicly at least - in the popular MMO, Second Life.
The ex-Guv, who is expected to make a strong run at the White House in 2008, will make his appearance in-game at 3:30 Eastern time. Once online, Warner will announce the first-ever "virtual town hall on American politics," scheduled for later this year.
"In Second Life," said Warner, "distances and time differences vanish. It will allow us to reach people through a whole new medium. Social technologies can be great tools for political change, and virtual worlds like Second Life might be the next tool for engaging people in the real world democratic process. We want to use Second Life to continue the conversation about the direction of our country. My avatar is also pretty funny looking. That alone makes it worth checking out."
Through his avatar, Warner will be interviewed briefly by journalist Wagner James Au (also in character) and then launch the Second Life group of Forward Together, his political action (i.e., fund raising) committee.
"Governor Mark Warner and Forward Together PAC are exploring the limitless potential of Second Life as a platform for communication," said David Fleck, an exec with Linden Lab, the San Francisco-based company which operates the popular MMO. "Second Life represents the new 'town hall' that allows intimate interaction directly with the voters."
The event will take place at The Second Life New Globe Theater, a virtual version of the proposed New Globe Theater. As Warner's press release points out, basic memberships for the game are free. GP readers who would like to attend can create an account here.
It would be great if any of the GP faithful with Second Life accounts could FRAPS some video and YouTube it. In any event, the Forward Together PAC promises to make video available soon at its blog. Wagner James Au offers his take on the event at his blog, New World Notes.
GP: Warner's use of MMO game tech is a bold and, perhaps, brilliant move. We all remember how the prominence of bloggers reached a tipping point during the 2004 election cycle. Could MMOs become a new platform for candidates?