If, like me, you’re at an age where having a midlife crisis seems like an attractive option, but you don’t want the expense of buying a Harley Davidson, I have a suggestion.

For a mere $9 a month you can have a stab at living in the world of Second Life.

Those of you content with how your first life is going may not have heard of Second Life. For all its recent hype, it is basically an online game played by millions of 40-somethings worldwide.

The latter is a bit of an assumption on my behalf, as you cannot actually verify a player’s real age, or indeed their sex and appearance.

Which is why, when meeting young and beautiful inhabitants of Second Life – which they mostly are – it is safe to assume there is a bald, fat, middle-aged man working the character from somewhere in his slightly disappointing first life.

The basic premise of the game is to create an online persona, known as an avatar, then design things to sell to other players in order to accumulate wealth in the form of Linden Dollars (LD$) and Second Life real estate.

As with real life, interaction with other players is key to this goal. It also takes a lot of time and effort with the mouse and keyboard to amass wealth.

Luckily, for those over 40 more likely to have acquired a little real world wealth, LD$ can be bought for US$, courtesy of the game’s owner Linden Labs. Thus doubling the appeal for midlife crisis sufferers: you can take your knowledge and wealth with you into your Second Life, where you are young and beautiful.

I have my eye on a rather nice, private island in Second Life, for around US$1,800,00. A lot cheaper than a Harley, I think you will agree?

Many a real world corporation has cottoned on to this slightly older, more influential Second Life community, and have set up virtual offices there.

IBM has an office there and Sun Microsystems held a new product launch there last month, gaining much real world publicity. Reuters has even set up an office there, and embedded a full time reporter to monitor this new commercial market.

Recently, the US government noticed people were making a good living out of Second Life trading and decreed that US citizens should pay tax on any profits.

It seems you might be able to escape birth and death in your Second Life, but not income tax.

Real world hackers are now duplicating member’s creations and selling them for real world profits. Victims are now threatening to sue Linden Labs for not protecting their intellectual property, and there may soon be a need for lawyer in a previously litigation free world.

Connecting LD$ with US$ may be this utopia’s undoing, now taxmen and the lawyers are getting involved.

Chris is managing director of Internet consultancy WAA WebXpress. This and other unedited articles can be found at www.webxpress.com . Email: chris@webxpress.com.