Gladys Santiago

Ghost Whisperer’s Alt World 2: A Case Study on Product Displacement and Engagement

Posted in Media, Product Placements, Television by Gladys Santiago on August 22, 2009

The above image is one of the most viewed pictures in my Flickr photostream. The majority of viewers find the image by conducting keyword searches for “Alt World 2,” a fictionalized interpretation of the virtual world application, Second Life. In the “Ghost in the Machine” episode of Ghost Whisperer, Melinda is shown how to create an avatar and navigate through a virtual environment in order to catch a child predator. The Alt World 2 interface and its function closely resembles Second Life’s, but since the plot addressed the dangers of online worlds, it’s only natural that Second Life would want to avoid being mentioned or featured in the episode.

A behind-the-scenes clip, previously available on, detailed Alt World 2’s creation process and featured the director and designers discussing their inspiration for the animation and graphics. What I find particularly interesting, are the viewer inquiries as to whether or not the Alt World 2 game exists in real life. Here, a Ghost Whisperer viewer identifies Second Life as an Alt World 2 substitute and reminds another fan about the dangers discussed on the show. At MIT’s Futures of Entertainment 3 conference, Ghost Whisperer Executive Producer, Kim Moses, touted the show’s transmedia storytelling ability as successfully connecting viewers to its content. Through the use of webisodes, books, message boards and fan fiction, Moses has laid the foundation to engage audiences. When I refer to engagement, I am referring to the resulting audience behavior, recall and participation after watching the program. It’s understandable for viewers to wonder if Alt World 2 is a real game given Ghost Whisperer’s presence across various media forms. Seeking out information regarding Alt World 2 is a form of engagement because it illustrates an interest in the show’s content that extends beyond the initial television airing.

I’m sure some Ghost Whisperer viewers are familiar with Second Life, but given all the outlets fans have to discuss the show, it’s completely plausible for them to believe that the Alt World 2 exits. Although an actual Alt World 2 gaming platform never came to a fruition, audience reaction to it demonstrates that product displacement can engage viewers and pique their curiosity. Fans that searched for Alt World 2 probably viewed it as another medium to connect with the Ghost Whisperer world. The episode featuring Alt World 2 originally aired October 2008, but searches for it appear on my Flickr stats almost everyday. Alt World 2 is a great example of a product displacement that really resonated with viewers. It’s a shame the game wasn’t developed into an actual social networking platform. I’m pretty sure Second Life was never approached to be included in the episode, but Alt World 2 presents the company with an opportunity to create virtual environments specifically for television shows.

12 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. J0anna said, on August 24, 2009 at 4:57 am

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Gladys Santiago said, on August 24, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Thanks for the comment! Are you a fan of Ghost Whisperer? Would you have used Alt World 2, even if just out of curiosity?

  3. J0anna said, on August 24, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    I found your post due to my google news alerts for “virtual world” or “second life” one of those. I do enjoy the show Ghost Whisperer from time to time but haven’t seen this episode. If it’s anything like CSI’s take on virtual worlds it should be hilarious.

  4. J0anna said, on August 24, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Oh and yes I would try out any virtual world, and stay or remain based on whether it afforded good user generated content creation options, among other factors. But I would check it out – the stereotypes of virtual worlds being filled with predators and shady characters would not put me off.

  5. rachel said, on March 3, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    i came across this looking for alt world-2 because i wouldhaveliked to join that virtual world. i have been on second life before but it really isn’t for me.. i might have a go on it again when i get faster internet. i would totally go on it.. im very careful about people online.. but i did meet my fiancee and babys father online! so it isn’t all bad 😀

  6. penthius said, on March 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Although not the same , Ghost Whisperer is releasing a game in 2010 .

    The Game will be called The Shadowlands and you can read more about it here ;

    and here ;

  7. nbf said, on July 23, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    No entiendo naa! pero bueno… oye existe el juego si o no¿? k tiene k molar muxo :B jejeje BeShiiToSsSsSsS

  8. nbf said, on July 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    ams ya entiendo … muy interesante gracias por la informacion pero la verdad es que es una gran pena que no exista porque parecia muy interesante

  9. Nick D said, on July 28, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    I remember this well as searchs for Alt-world 2 blew up my website on October 17th 2008, (spiked at 3000 hits an hour) and I got a couple hundred emails about the game asking if I was designing it. Or had any connection to the series.

    So much so I put up a commeration page to this very unusual event, which still gets higher than average hits for my website.

    • Gladys Santiago said, on August 1, 2010 at 4:13 am

      @Nick D: This post is the most viewed on my blog. The Alt World screen caps I have on Flickr get a lot of views too. It’s very interesting how people are so curious about this (fictional) game. A huge missed opportunity for the Ghost Whisperer producers.

  10. Jazmin said, on November 9, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Hey people,

    I am a BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG fan of Ghost Whisperer.

    I have got series 3,4 and 5.

    I am up to season 4. I am so excited to watch season 5 because Jim dies. Jim is SO SO SO SO cute!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Kersti said, on January 28, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Where can I play it ? ( I want do play that :()

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: