I'm pleased Linden Lab selected someone with strong marketing experience to move forward the platform. Realize that the overwhelming majority of buzz about Second Life isn't about immersion, or escapism, or game-playing, it's universities and businesses and trade organizations talking about practical uses of virtual worlds.
Treat Second Life as a game, and I think you'll find you will find an immense amount of rejection from the professional third party developer community, educators, and businesses. You've worked on AAA games - you know that Second Life doesn't compete to titles like Call of Duty or Guitar Hero when it comes to high quality work. Second Life as a game platform is a lost cause.
Second Life as a social platform with smaller, social games is a proven and doable cause. But realize no one treats Facebook as a game - it's clearly something bigger. I hope your "X-Factor" isn't "it's a game" - you'll lead Second Life down a second hype cycle comparable with 2007 that will burst.
Also, there is no central "Second Life community" - there is a whole set of communities. What everyone has in common is the desire to communicate and interact in an immersive, 3-D environment. Really nothing more. I don't care if Linden Lab calls people "Residents" and if Hamlet can't see beyond the game-playing. Linden Lab is BAD at knowing the value of their own product - always have been - and their repeated failure to avoid hype-and-bust cycles is proof.
I have hope you'll do better. I think your plan on exploring Second Life is a good one. Most Linden Labbers don't do that enough. Philip famously said at the first SLCC "I don't have enough time to spend in-world". Please be sure to visit the educational and business related places. Sure, a virtual world is a fun place to hang out, but it can be a life-changing, powerful tool for things greater than mere socialization.
Virtual World developer since Jan 2006.
SL since Jan 2004 - Hiro Pendragon