A Second Life For MTV

It used to be the last word in youth culture. Now MTV is more about reality shows than rock stars. Can a virtual world of 3-D avatars help the network get its groove back?
Wired magazine, February 2007

Lounging by a bright blue pool, Kyndra and Cami, stars of MTV’s hit reality show Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, chat with a bunch of other teenagers. Kyndra’s white bikini shows off an artificially enhanced figure, while Cami’s dark skin glows against an unnaturally bright blue sky. This is Laguna Beach, after a fashion, but it isn’t the TV show. It’s a live appearance, a chance for the show’s bitchiest characters to hang with some of the 2 million viewers who tune in to their breakups and hookups every Wednesday night. As the pool fills up with fans, someone asks why the girls are always so mean to fellow cast member Tessa. Kyndra shrugs: “We just don’t like her personally.” Cami can’t be bothered to answer; she’s busy tongue wrestling with some hipster dude in sunglasses.

Kyndra and Cami are kind of fake — and not just in the catty teenage sense of the word. The two girls by the pool are computerized 3-D replicas of the cast members, who are using mouse and keyboard to navigate their avatars through a multiplayer online environment known as Virtual Laguna Beach. Anyone with a PC and a broadband connection can join them.

You want your MTV? These days, that means going virtual.

Read the complete text at Wired.