CSI: NY – Oct. 24 episode to feature Second Life & viewer interactivity

NY Times/CBS Promo shot of CSI: NYWow! Is this becoming a trend? Today’s New York Times reports that the October 24th episode of CSI: NY will not only integrate the virtual world of Second Life into the episode, but will also invite viewers to interact with CSI characters in Second Life. The show’s creator, Anthony Zuiker, describes it as:

“…the episode will contain two 30-second promotional messages directing viewers to CBS.com, promising a “live simulation” letting them experience Second Life for themselves. “You can pick one of 12 avatars,” Mr. Zuiker said. “It will download in five to nine minutes. My own avatar will be there to greet you.”

Three levels will be available, depending on how much you want to experience:

Level 1: Walking around representations of New York buildings and the CSI lab, and playing basic forensic games
Level 2: Involves solving a murder designed by Zuiker
Level 3: Will…

“…allow “CSI” fans to become CSI investigators. They will receive a field kit and tools, get a chance to interview suspects and be given the opportunity to solve the murder featured in the episode. The final gimmick of that episode is that it will end in a cliffhanger: it will not be resolved until an episode in February.”

Kudos to Mr. Zuiker! Now, here’s someone who gets it! It will be interesting to see how numbers in SL increase following this episode, keeping in mind that basic membership to SL is free.

On another level, one wonders how this virtual reflection of TV characters, potentially interacting outside the tv medium, sits with actors portraying these characters? Are we looking at a new class of “virtual body doubles”? Actors who will be called upon to perpetuate a tv character in virtual reality? Somehow, I can’t picture Gary Sinise pushing a mouse around to animate Mac in SL… (brings to mind an old tv commercial: “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on television”…”I’m not an actor, but I play one in Second Life?…”)

A short preview clip of the Oct. 24 episode is available here.

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