When I argued in my 10th anniversary Second Life post for GigaOM that the future of SL largely lies in the Oculus Rift, some people were confused why I made that argument. Gwyneth Llewelyn thinks I want the Rift to attract hardcore gamers into SL; not exactly. But maybe my argument is better expressed by two photos.
This is someone who uses Second Life and finds it very valuable for many important reasons:
And below, is someone who can easily use the Oculus Rift and already finds value in it:
I tried to suggest as much in the GigaOM post, in two passages:
SL enthusiasts have tried promoting it as a platform for any number of real-world applications... but only one consistently shows substantial and unique value: a real-time, immersive social space for people with physical or mental disabilities that impair their first lives, who often find comfort and security interacting through anonymous avatars. (Indeed, some academics believe using Second Life might even help improve motor ability for people with Parkinson’s.) This capability alone almost justifies SL’s entire existence. As the developed world experiences a spike in senior citizens, SL very well could find a new audience.
And the thing is, Second Life already has a very large group of users in their 50s and even 60s. (With some even into their 70s and 80s, as Fran is, above.) The trouble is, it'll be difficult to introduce the technology to oncoming senior citizens, unless it's as easy as wearing a headset.
This is not to say I see a future for Second Life that's only inhabited by senior citizens or the physically/mentally disabled. But these groups have the most incentive to use it, especially when it's as immersive as the Rift can make it. This isn't to say a Rift-based SL will be the only means of access -- just that it's the one that's easiest to experience, and conveys the most power in the experience. And when a substantial number of senior citizens begin to use it, their children and grandchilden will be more than likely to follow them there.
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