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Who is the target audience for Second life?


JohnnyMercury
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I don't think that there is a specific target audience for SL.  The founder of Linden Lab is an oddball of sorts (Philip Rosedale  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Rosedale ).  His interest in virtual reality is open ended so to speak........his intention was not to game, but a virtual world that more or less mimicks real life.  SL was very much a niche when it first opened to the public.  Geeks and people who thought "outside the box" were the prime users which made SL complicated for most people (that stigma still exists today).  Over time the target has changed somewhat (but not entirely) to more of a social network.The appeal to the creative types has probably been the greatest factor in SL's slow growth over the years and the invention of the virtual economy has enabled LL to finance SL's developement to a great extent (some private investors played a part but most of the income for LL is from the residents who use it).

 

The target audience(s):  Artists, entrapeneurs, gamers, social networkers, educators, students, the social butterflies, the lonely, the handicapped, the curious, the "geniuses", the bored.  You name it, it's a target.  That's most of the reason Second Life is so "complicated" (there is no definition to define SL).........it's also what makes it so appealing to us niche types.

 

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I hope my reply goes in the correct place, I do not post often enough to remember where to click...  

I've been in SL two years.  I did not come as a creator, although I did eventually how to build.  I came because I heard people from work (all men, I don't know if that's pertinent), talk about Second Life.  I was, and still am, primarily a social user.  I have met someone in RL from SL.  I do chat on voice and sometimes use Skype with friends.  I am also a terrible role player, so it brings me right back to....social user.

At times, I read posts that my kind are not really appreciated.  However, I am a great consumer of products that other people create.  The thought of chatting on voice, using Skype or meeting in real life completely creeps some people out.  I can't say I am the "target" but I know there are many people like me.  I wouldn't want to generalize, but I wonder if it's more common over the past couple years to be more of a social user.

 

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Since I've been in SL there has always been a large portion of the users who use SL for social activities.  I think most (perhaps all) people use SL for social purposes at times............I know I do and every friend I have (or had) does too.  I won't say it's my primary use but I have spent hours at a time socializing with friends and strangers alike.  I also spend hours at a time all by myself exploring, making something.  I've gone to events and danced in the corner just to listen to the chat and music or watch a contest.  There's nothing wrong with being a social networker...........it is a big demographic.  But I don't think it's a primary target audience.  I can't think of any single target that LL has in mind for SL.  It's one of the "all of the above" things.

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I suppose it depends on you you define the "target audience". If we go by the literal meaning, the audience Linedn Lab is targeting, it has definitely changed over the years.

My understanding is that when SL started, Linden Lab had no idea who they were targeting SL for. SL wasn't even initially the product, it was something to show off a haptics interface LL had developed. When LL shelved the haptics interface they found SL had garnered a following.

 When I joined in 2005, Linden Lab was already aiming squarely at education institutions and large corporations.

 Linden Lab did not think their brilliant plan through and it quickly became apparent that SL was not ideally suited for the kind of educational and corporate uses they had envisioned (virtual workspaces, mostly, a replacement for telecommuting), but even in the face of this extreme mismatch of goals and product, Linden Lab insistently pushed forward with it from 2005 until...I want to say it was 2009 or 2010 when Linden Lab wrote off educational institutions and halted their educational discounts.

 Even after this, however, Linden Lab maintained its focus on corporate customers for SL until Rodvik was brought on as the new CEO early this year.

This was after Linden Lab had sunk, and lost, significant amounts of money into failing projects to draw in corporate users and had wound up losing so much money they were forced to cut about 60% of their staff and close mutliple offices over the course of about 6 months.

 

 Now Rodvik is pushing the much more sensible "shared creativity tool" angle, something SL actually does pretty well despite the sore lack of development in areas that should have been fleshed out ages ago. He also seems to be bolstering the social/entertainment angles which have traditionally flourished in the environment of user created content SL has always had.

 

 But who is the "target audience" for this "shared creativity tool"? That's more complicated, because it's a two part product.

 On one hand you have the content creators. Artists and aspiring artists as well as programmers who create everything there is to see and do in SL. Game design students, professional and amateur artists, people who just want a creative outlet would all fall into the target audience for this part of SL.

 Then you have the broader "casual user" angle, the people who come to SL to play with the toys the content creators make. To socialize, meet people, play dress-up and buy a virtual dream home. It's much more difficult to pinpoint who would fall into that. Everyone from college age gamers to 40-something housewives can find something to enjoy in the variety of content and social venues available in SL. It's like trying to pinpoint who the target audience is for the internet.

 

 Really, I think the concept that drives SL has much broader appeal than most people give it credit. The only thing holding SL back all these years has been SL stubbornly trying to sell SL for purposes it's a poor fit for, meanwhile plenty of people have flocked int to make toys, meet people and have fun.

 If Linden Lab can make it easier for the average person to get into Second Life, improve the general visual presentation and the content creation tools to help people create better and more engaging content they'll start holding on to that large majority of people who have tried SL but beeen driven off by the poor interface, ugly graphics and the confusing and unfriendly new user experience.

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I can agree with most of what's being said there.... except when we get to the current era....

as I see it, LL is aiming it's market focus squarely at consumers of virtual goods that are hooked into social media. I gather they figure if someone will wast hours on farmville and virtual diners while dropping messages for all their friends, then hooking them into SL and getting them to loosen their wallets a little will work too, since they've already got time to spare...

to my mind LL has decided that there are already enough content creators, and don't really try to market to them. even though we have seen some large gains in the effective toolset available for content creators, that's not what's being advertised... only the products of those creators labor are being marketed.

from the user sid (as opposed to the corporate and education markets) back when SL was freshly opened, SL was marketed to creators....  "make anything you can imagine here", but now, as many note, that message has been buried.

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At an Inworld meeting, Philip Linden stated that "the purpose of SL was to produce change in Society", "a profound change".

pro·found [ prə fównd ]   1.great: very great, strong, or intense
2.showing great understanding: showing great perception, understanding, or knowledge
3.requiring thoughtful study: containing far-reaching ideas or essential wisdom and experience that usually require serious thought to be fully appreciated 

Being a Member of SL has had a profound effect and influence upon my life. Knowledge cannot be undone, be very careful as to what you think you want to know.

If you are here in SL, you are part of the Target Audience. Nothing is random Johnny, everything happens for a reason. 

 

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Knowl Paine wrote:

At an Inworld meeting, Philip Linden stated that "
the purpose of SL was to produce change in Society
", "
a profound change
".

pro·found [ prə fównd ]   1.great: very great, strong, or intense

2.showing great understanding: showing great perception, understanding, or knowledge

3.requiring thoughtful study: containing far-reaching ideas or essential wisdom and experience that usually require serious thought to be fully appreciated 

Being a Member of SL has had a profound effect and influence upon my life. Knowledge cannot be undone, be very careful as to what you think you want to know.

If you are here in SL, you are part of the Target Audience. Nothing is random Johnny, everything happens for a reason. 

 

You give me goosebumps sometimes.

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@Void

 I'd agree with you as far as the actual marketing is going. They don't seem to be pushing the "create" side of things anymore, instead aiming directly at the "socializing media/consumer" crowd.

 I suppose I say creators are one of the targeted demographics because of Rodvik constantly referring to SL as a "shared creativity tool" in speeches and interviews and the push to finally improve SL's content creation tools (of which mesh import is apparently only the first). With as little marketing as LL actually does, it's easy to forget there is actual marketing outside of what the Lindens say in interviews and whatnot.

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With the merged grid and the fact that the new Premium Sandboxes are G rated only, makes me think they are going to make a push in the youth market.

LL likes virtual good sales, but they do not support their creators/merchants; rather appear to work at alienating them which seems at cross purposes

The one industry that generates the most revenues in RL and SL/today and historically, is sex.  But, LL does not like to talk about SL and sex.  Gambling was huge in its day but understand when that had to go...though seems might have just been more profitable to relocate the company to another country and maintain that cash flow.

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Their real demographic is not the general public, regardless of the interests potential customers have.  LL targets folks with a given income bracket, who can afford to plunk down a thousand bucks to own a region, and continue to pay 200 bucks out of their disposable income each month to continue playing with their toy.  Sometimes being "the low-price leader" is NOT the road to profit;  Catering to rich clientel is.

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ShowcaseSL.pngProbably far to simple an answer, but you're here and I'm here so we are the target audience. 

I'm little bits and crumbs of plenty of these posts, but I'm also full of contradictions to many of the stereotypes and descriptions of the typical resident.  I suspect most of us are very unique and have very personal reasons for being here since SL is not a win, lose, chase, dodge, puzzle, suspense, roleplay, live, die, collect, build, fantasy, romance, sci-fi 'game' all by itself and on it's own. 

It takes all sorts of us to turn SL into all of the things it is for reasons and motivations that are all our own.  The fun for me has been watching dreams, wishes and 'communities' come, go, and grow into completely unexpected things.  For a few cherished quite hours a week I get to play, visit, and share in a world that expects nothing of me other than what I'm comfortable contributing.

Enjoy being part of the Target Audience

Lanas

 

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I don't know what the target was, but I can tell you the current demographic. Its mostly out of work/disabled people with some sort of emotional or mental instability. Myself included. I am sure there are some normal people that casually log into second life. But the hardcore members that sepnd lots of time in game all have some sort of issue. I have not met anyone yet that didn't sooner or later end up admiting to some sort of social or emotional problem. Not saying it to be mean, just saying that is what I see. And like I said I am inlcuded in that. I suffer from anxiety and depression issues so I use sl to hide from the real world.

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Just as in RL, the social circles you hang out in colours your view of the world.   SL has a lot of different people here using it for a lot of different reasons.  It is a mistake to assume that because you have some kind of problem and most of the people you meet have similar problems, then this is the main demographic of SL.

 When I was involved in role play sims most of the people I met were RPing, and just for fun not because they had some kind of problem.  They were mainly gamers who preferred the free flow type of game environment offered by SL. 

I now mainly attend music events, art festivals etc.  These events give an opportunity fo upcoming artists to showcase their talent before launching out in RL or provides a relatively cheap promotional tool for these artists.  The people who attend these events are not suffering from any problem. 

In any case, who except the affluent has enough money to go out every night for entertainment?  SL is a relatively cheap entertainment offering for many people and also a social outlet that compliments RL.   So please disabuse yourself of the notion that people who use SL have some kind of problem. 

 I sometimes wonder if people are being paid to slander SL like this.

 

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How well do you know these people? I have been in sl a while and met people from all over the grid and all walks of life, and talked to those who have played and left or had no interest in playing at all. Almost everyone I know that seemed "normal" ( how do you define normal really though) after I got to know them I eventually discovered they had some sort of social or emotional problem. And I don't mean guessing, I mean they eventually admit it. Especially those that spend lots of time in sl. I am not saying that every person in sl is screwed up or that there is even anything wrong with that. Just basing an opinion on a sample of all the people I have met in sl.

Lets face it, most people with a normal social life and that well adjusted simply don't have time for something like SL nor do they have in them what it takes to get truly addicted to it. They either log in infrequently, for short amounts of time or join and then leave. They simply are more interested in living thier real life as opposed to a virtual one.

But in the end this is simply my opinion or theory. It in no way slanders sl in my opinion since I am in fact one of these people, why would I slander myself lol. And no I am not getting paid to say. Who waste the money to pay someone to slander sl? Hardly anyone I meet in real life even knows what it is.

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First of all, everyone has issues.  Some more than others.  In RL when you get to know someone well, you discover all sorts of things about them that you would not know as a casual acquaintance.  So it follows that if you get to know someone either through face to face contact or through a digital medium you will eventually come to know their issues.  There is no real dichotomy between a digital medium and RL, it is all part of RL.

If you look at the statistics for gamers, TV watchers, movie audiences, clubbers, drinkers, church goers, clubbers etc., almost everyone in the world falls into one of these categories.  So everyone has time for their form of entertainment.  There are some who prefer digital mediums like SL to the other mentioned activities and will spend more of their time in SL.  They have no more issues than the people in all the other categories or everyone in the world.  SL is a microcosm of the world.

In fact. I would say that if someone has some issues to deal with, they would do better to get RL help.  SL is definitely more suited for a person in a healthy mental state, because such a person will recognize and use SL for what it is, an entertaining digital medium, and the large majority of people I've met in SL do use it this way.

BTW, have you seen how many young people are addicted to their BlackBerry, even at parties, at the beach, in bed etc.

 

 

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JohnnyMercury wrote:

Who was Second Life created for in the first place, and has that target audience changed through the years?  I don't feel like I'm in the target audience.



i'll just say creative people of all kinds.. i haven't read any of the thread but the OP..so i don't know if this was said already or not..but to me that is what comes to mind..

 

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You know what? I have no idea. I have no idea because they don't seem to target at all.

I, like many others my age, came in out of curiosity about a news story involving a RL couple and his SL affair which caused a newsworthy divorce and some lulz in the difference between the avi and the real person when the pics came out.

I stayed because I found it interesting to make stuff (thanks Dino) and I got totally sucked in. I sucked myself back out eventually which is a good thing. (RL still trumps when possible). I still make stuff (mostly badly) but I'm too lazy to make anything of it and I dump my stuff on the MP when I can live with it, but I do everything from scratch. I use no templates and I play. That's what brings me back and keeps me here.

I've been here nearly 3 years and although to some of you I'm still a noob, I feel like it's long enough to notice things.

The only real time I've seen a drive for SL was when Linden Homes were created and I deliberately set up camp in one to help the noobs out. I stayed as it goes. I like a Linden home for its simplicity and prims. I don't really need much else as a base to live in seeing as I am no hawt luvva :D.

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Vladi Hazelnut wrote:

 I have not met anyone yet that didn't sooner or later end up admitting to some sort of social or emotional problem. Not saying it to be mean, just saying that is what I see. And like I said I am inlcuded in that. I suffer from anxiety and depression issues so I use sl to hide from the real world.

What you're doing is know as "projection".  You are projecting your own personal experience and issues onto others.  You might also have had a very limited group of people that you've associated within SL.  Perhaps because of your own self-admitted social/emotional issues, you've chosen to also associate with those same types in SL. 

I've been in SL almost four years, and can only count a handful of people that I know who suffer from some real world social/emotional issues.   Nor, when I talk to people, do they tell me that have social/emotional issues.  Within SL, I mostly associate with people who have RL jobs/careers/families, and SL is just another aspect of their RL. 

There is a large contingent of SL residents who display their  RL information, and they are in SL as an added aspect to their RL professional/business.  Many SL residents who work and teach at Universities in RL, are also in SL and on other virtual grids to explore the ways that virtual reality can be incorporated into their work.  These are normal people who function just fine in RL, and they are also interested in exploring new venues and uses for communication and education.

There are also RL businesses and entertainment people in SL, who like the rest of us, enjoy the amazing virtual reality aspect of SL.  Here's a good video about SL and virtual worlds, which features Drew Carey, (who is a SL resident): 

http://reason.tv/video/show/480.html

(Sidenote:  For those who are observant...that link takes you to Reason... : )

So, Vladi, who's version of the SL resident is the accurate one? 

I think that each of us chooses the type of people we associate with, and the SL experience that we have, is based upon who we are in RL.  If, in RL, someone actually does have social/emotional issues, then yes, that is also what they will find in SL.  One cannot separate the RL person from their SL avatar.

But, if in RL, some is basically a normal person with a job, family and social circle, then they will find those same things within SL.    "We" define SL for ourselves,  and by "we" I mean us as individuals.  No two people are going to have the same SL, because just as in RL, we are all very different.   Please do not use yourself, or the people that you've connected to, as the definition of SL residents.   Because you, like myself, are basing your definition upon a filtered perception.  

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JohnnyMercury wrote:

Who was Second Life created for in the first place, and has that target audience changed through the years?  I don't feel like I'm in the target audience.

I believe when Philip Rosedale first set his idea of a utopian world into motion there was no target audience as such; it was really a case of the more the merrier and everyone was welcome.  I don't think that has changed over the years, although it does appear that LL are "selling out" by trying to tag on with anything that's popular - social networking in particular.

When I first heard about Second Life, it was 2007, and the grid had already been in existence for several years.  Creativity and imagination seemed to be the key selling points, and any interview I've seen with Philip Rosedale has shown him talking very positively about how the users create all of it.

With the intensity and speed at which mesh has been introduced into Second Life most recently, it feels to me like the target audience is still either people who are creative and imaginative, or those who enjoy exploring all that is created (I guess I am the latter, as I don't have a creative bone in my body).







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