Saturday, November 3, 2007

First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin

Loyal readers know how seldom this reporter writes about actual malls. There are so many unusual shopping locations available in Second Life, and so many real life malls near me in Los Angeles, I normally can’t find the inspiration to even visit them, let alone write about them. KaDeWe has some things going for it though, so this is a tale of what they’re doing right and room for improvement.

KaDeWe is a mall that reflects a real life shopping mall in Berlin, Germany. You can find an excellent website advertising the mall at . The recent opening of the SL annex was reported extensively by German television and print media, and attended in world by hundreds of shoppers.

The Second Life mall is a nice experience. A hostess waited in the mezzanine, greeted me in her best German/English, and asked if she could help me find anything. While I recovered from my shock at this courtesy a well-dressed man wearing a ‘security’ tag came by and also asked if I needed any assistance. I virtually pinched my virtual arm to see if I were virtually dreaming.

This is an upscale mall, and you better be prepared to pay upscale prices. I did purchase a nice business outfit, which fit me to a “T,” and am considering the heels I lingered over for stop back purchase. I saw some lovely gowns as well, very unique formal affairs, and should a special date come up I will return for the red/black number I admired for ten minutes.

While exploring the mall I ran across a unique camping system, billed as the “advanced camping” group. This supposedly allows you to wander within a certain range from the camping box and still collect your Lindens, rather than having to sit in one spot. Brilliance! Now campers can spend while they earn at the very site they’re working.

I spoke to one camper, the first well-dressed and fitted out male camper I’ve ever met in Second Life. JohnG told me that he lives in the western portion of Germany, about 600 kilometers from the real KDW shop in Berlin, but that he’d visited there once. I asked him about the real life store. He responded that “…my first and only one visit in that store was such an impression... if I would live in Berlin - believe me - I would stay there very often…”

Even the campers are upscale at KDW

There is room for improvement at KaDeWe. The mall is huge and it spans several sims. Lag can be a bit of an issue while you cross boundaries. Like all shoppers I can become irritated at having to watch myself creep across the floor, glaring at a horde of campers who aren’t helping matters any.

Also I was a bit mystified at the third floor, which spanned the entire mall but had no actual retail, only mockup textures of shops. I suppose they’re leaving room for expansion, but why do that and make the lag worse? It would be better to scrap the floor until they actually need the space, in my humble opinion.

Still, a positive shopping experience for when you want to get dressed up and shop in style. KaDeWe can be found in the aptly named KaDeWe Sims, of which there are four at last count.