Clay Shirky (I’m a fanboy) deconstructs Second Life in a great article that debunks the Second Life numbers and then goes on to juxtapose the success of games worlds (e.g. World of Warcraft and Everquest) with real virtual worlds (such as Second Life).
Interesting statistic : 85% of Second Life users abandon the game within three months.
I quote a great closing paragraph,
More generally, I suspect that the cases where 3D immersion works are, and will continue to be, those uses that most invite the mind to fill in or simply do without missing detail, whether because of a triggering of sexual desire, the fight or flight reflex (many games), avarice (gambling), or other areas where we are willing and even eager to make rapid inferences based on a paucity of data.