At one time, Second Life was viewed as having great potential for promoting political campaigns.
However, the Houston Chronicle points out that in the current presidential election, Barack Obama and John McCain have largely ignored the SL metaverse:
Campaigns haven’t figured out how to reconcile the all-important image and fundraising with a world in which a Gothic nymph can sit in on a congressional hearing – or a Teddy bear might try to donate to a political campaign.
So for now, the Second Life campaign headquarters of Barack Obama and John McCain are pristine, glistening and completely vacant most of the time…
Fundraising is still not an option in Second Life, as there is no way to monitor where the donations are coming from, and the majority of players are from outside the U.S.
Julie Germany of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet told the Chronicle:
It’s been written about in fiction and cyberpunk, this idea that these online worlds could actually be used for political purposes, whether it is to recruit supporters, or train people to take action or to fund raise. It just hasn’t exploded the way other online tools have exploded.
Former congressional aide Nancy Scola, who was involved in former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner’s much-discussed 2006 visit to SL (screenshot at left), added that options like Facebook, YouTube and MySpace are dominating the online side of politics:
All the air’s been sucked out of the room… If you’re working inside a campaign, your single goal is to get your guy in the White House. It doesn’t leave a lot of room and motivation to play with new technology. Why mess with what’s working?