We live in weird times. If you thought the monetisation of social network sites like MySpace was opportunistic, then what about trying to market to people's virtual alter-ego? Avatar marketing is very buzzy right now, as it is assumed that the engagement of individuals playing fantasy games like Second Life is so intense that they will avidly engage with your product in a way that will transfer to their real-life behaviour. These are not passive eyeballs but intelligent engaged minds allegedly.
There are interesting issues surrounding in-game data-mining and virtual malls that recreate the social nature of shopping, and I liked the subliminal implication of Nike's virtual shoes making the wearer run faster, but hey guys it's only a game. Engagement is the holy grail of permission-based marketing, but it's engagement that is granted to you by the individual. Does it follow that just because individuals are in an engaged state, then they will be more susceptible to engaging in other ways?
Indeed, these role-players have created a virtual reality and identity in order to escape the mundanity and viscitudes of real life about which they apparently are not so wild. What makes a marketer think that they'll take kindly to the invasion of this escapsim by real world hucksters? No. Engagement in one environment does not translate into engagement in your environment. This is still interruptive marketing