Second Life is 8 years old which is quite a big thing really. In fact, SL’s success is completely at odds with the circumstances under which it continues to survive. In global terms, Linden Lab is a pretty small player and appears to have little, if any, grasp on customer service and marketing. Whether that’s because there simply isn’t the capital or the talent to invest in those particular areas is probably one of those murky areas that most of us really don’t want to consider. i’m sure that if we went down the road of LL charging the same sort of prices you can expect to pay for games software we’d see a corresponding improvement in those particular areas; but at what cost?
As it is, we’re faced with clunky software, unreliable and unstable inworld conditions; dubious marketing ploys and inefficient support – and yet sl is an undoubted success. Whilst the inworld economy and membership has shown little fluctuation over the past year, sl remains in robust health. Perhaps it’s something to do with the residents themselves… after all, sl is only ‘managed’ by LL – what goes on inworld is created, exploited, and in the main, completely determined by its residents: the virtual world is pretty much as open-source as the viewers we use to access it.
This can’t be the whole story though – there are other user-defined virtual environments out there, and plenty of them. Maybe we’ve stuck with sl all these years because we feel a connection with it and with the people we share our world with.
i’ve always been very aware that i’m a virtual youngster but, even in the short time that i’ve been around, i’ve seen plenty to suggest that sl can exert quite a persistent hold over people. Most of us have had friends who’ve ‘left’ sl – perhaps we’ve even done it ourselves – reasons can range from simple frustration to changes in our personal lives and circumstances. Nonetheless, it’s surprising how many of those who leave, manage to eventually find their way back: It’s not just those who leave in a fit of pique, then re-appear a few days, or a couple of weeks later either; i’ve known, or known of, several residents who’ve left sl for a significant length of time and then suddenly re-appear a year or two later to become regulars in the virtual world, once again. There’s something about sl that brings us back, even when our life circumstances are such that we may well have things that others might consider ‘more important’ to deal with.
Then there’s the other type of resident – the stayer, for whom sl seems to offer stability and routine. There are still a considerable number of people active in sl who’ve been around in excess of 4 years and have more than likely missed only a handful of days during that time. i suppose that sl must feel almost like a home-from-home for these people and it must be difficult to be parted at times.
So, whatever the faults of sl, we seem to like it and we’re prepared to put up with the bad, so that we can experience the good. i sometimes wonder how many people will be sharing their rez day with sl – i’ve not personally come across anybody who’s been here for 8 years and yet, remarkably, the very first sl resident – Steller Sunshine – is still here and active. i recently visited her sim where you can see and attempt to climb her beanstalk – equally remarkably, this is one of the first structures ever built in sl. The amount of change that she’s seen over the past 8 years must be mind-boggling and yet, she’s stuck with it… i can’t help wondering how many of us might stick with sl over the next 8 years.
Whilst on the subject of rez days: If it’s your special day today – and i’m thinking of one extra-ordinary person, in particular, who will be celebrating their second today – have a great time and may every day in sl for you be full of the good things that make it special for you.
Altered Images – Happy Birthday