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Thursday, July 19, 2007

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Erbo Evans

At the risk of sounding cynical, I'd say that most of the teenagers have bypassed the Teen Grid and are ensconced on the Main Grid, thanks to the dropping of account verification over a year ago. They probably don't feel like being shunted off to some sort of "teenage ghetto" when the massive world of the Main Grid (not to mention the bewbies) awaits...

Xero Baphomet

Those top three have something in common, there browser based and all only do one thing, like runescape is a rpg, habbo is a chat program, and gaia is a anime myspace. But in tsl you can do w/e making it more diverse and complicated, i play on the teen grid, and love it. But i like being able to do whatever, but i guess some people like staying on track.

Xero Baphomet

Ive also been playing since 05, Commited member lol

Blue Linden

It’s definitely a subject with many contributing factors, and I can’t go deeply into all of them, but it's definitely worth looking at a few key points...

One of the most influential factors can be summed up in two words...Closed Registration. Erbo is certainly correct in assuming that some teens will lie about their age to get into SL (or websites, or movies, or clubs, etc.) which, of course, is problematic for numerous reasons. But in regards to TSL population, it's not as much of a factor as you might imagine. Consider the exponential growth curve that Second Life has experienced, in a large part due to open registration. In the very brief time period that TSL had open registration, we saw its growth curve shoot up dramatically, mirroring that of its older cousin. But in the interest of deterring adults from making Teen Second Life accounts, we felt it necessary to reinstate the credit card/Paypal/SMS requirement. TSL immediately returned to and maintained its previous flat growth rate, suggesting that it had not been significantly affected by open registration on the main grid. (The beginning of the school year has a much greater effect on the registration numbers.)

Other factors? Marketing, TSL's demographic, SL's learning cliff...I think that the level of difficulty in ramping up into SL is clearly a factor when comparing it to other MMO's and not surprisingly, TSL's retention rate is similar to that of the main grid...in the neighborhood of 11-14%. Also the difference in format is notable. Runescape is an RPG, Habbo hosts cool events (Heck, if I knew Gorrilaz were going to be there, I might've made an account) and SL is user-defined. To that extent, you could argue that it's all apples and oranges...perhaps of the sculptie variety!

That's my 2L$ :)

Oh, as an interesting aside...the TSL grew significantly faster in its first year than SL itself did when it was the same age. Go teens!

-Blue

Laetizia Coronet

I think the name "Teen" Second Life is definitely the single most uncool name they could ever have chosen. Seriously people, "Teen"? I am not entirely sure about the Anglophone world, but words like that here in Holland all have a definitely dorky, nerdy, cub-scouty image.
Products do fail because of bad naming or bad advertising. When it's for kids, don't make any reference to it actually being for kids in the name. Would Nike bring out a 'Nike Kids' line? Or 'Teen Sneakers'?

Erbo Evans

That's a good point about the TG registration being closed while the MG's is open, Blue. And I agree that the TG has a valid reason for existence...not just to limit the exposure of the Residents there to "adult" content, but to limit their exposure to predatory adults. LL does NOT want another MySpace on its hands, I'm sure!

And it's for that reason that you won't find me advocating the merger of the TG and MG, by any means. One wonders, though, how the TG experience could be improved without compromising the safety factors that are its very reason for existence.

Patchouli Woollahra

LatiziaL erm, actually, that's what they did when I was pretty young. and I wanted those sneakers bad then. Fortunately, my dad was sensible and got me in shoes that did the same thing a lot more cheaply.

Bless my dad.

We've had some prior reportage though, in NWN. There's also the fact that the bell curve of superiority/mediocrity is still relatively spread out. even more so than Main Grid. sure we have talents in TSL, but by and large certain things also discourage the pace of creativity in TSL from matching up to SL in many cases:

1) lack of L$. The exchange rate of L$ to US$ and vice versa is tied to that in main grid, but kids tend to spend less on TSL than a lot of adults I know. While commerce unfettered can lead to problms (camping chairs, scams, 'how I mine for L$'), a lack of it can also stifle any economy that has never had to go through the barter economy phase that the main grid had at one point (even if more and more main gridders believe in the value of the L$ rather than swapping textures for anims now)

2) expenses: An islnd costs the same whether it's in or out of TSL. a file upload costs the same whether it's done in or out of the TSL, and a computer that will run SL reasonably well costs the same in or out of TSL But most kids do not have the money to run islands, or go upload crazy, or get a computer that does NOT have XGI, Sigma or Intel lame GPUs in it. Most islands in TSL unfortunately devolve(?) into adults with clearances and good intentions shovelling content down teenns' throats. Maybe LL could allow teens the use of private regions at lower rates (until their final transfer to main grid) in the same way many software and hardware companies offer concession rates for students?

3) lack of numbers: popularity breeds. a lot of these alternative teen places became big because of rampant word of mouth. with only 4000+ teens in here, it's a bit hard to start a fire... like lighting a fire with sawdust

4) lack of content: this is twofold: see 3), and also the fact that getting inventory from the Main Grid is verboten even though there's a significant amount of content that remains viable and suitable for teens (e.g. a lot of Crystal gadgets stuff, builders aids, machinima tools et al).

Aspen d'Grey

I resent the 'no content on TSL' argument, and I always have. While it's true that the MG has a significantly higher ammount of content, the TG has about teh same percentage of really good content creators- they just have a tenth of the population. SO, look around! I know that people like Dolus are leaving the scene, which is a shame, and Adam, Ming, and I have all graduated to the MG, but come on, there's still good stuff out there. Visit Alex Harbringer's islands and shops, or any of the Nexus Corp that are still around and check out their work, I've always been impressed by it.

~Aesop Thatch

blue Linden

Amen Aesop.

Katharine Berry's groundbreaking efforts have been documented here in NWN (and a half dozen other notable blogs and sites), I've seen modern homes with as much attention to detail and aesthetic expertise as you'd find almost anywhere in SL, and if you want to see some of the best non-human looks around, come by Grasmere on Wednesdays at 4 SLTime and I'll show you a couple of my favorite teen-created avs :)

Laetizia Coronet

Patchouli - once upon a time the word 'teen' was cool enough - but that's roughly 30, 35 years ago when you had 'teeny bopper' music. ;)

David Orban

For me, and several other people I have spoken to the issue was very simple, when trying to help a teen sign up (our own children): the system didn't work. I actually received a 'this trial account is expired' message once which is a remnant of years past. It is already difficult for non-technical people to sign up for a normal SL account. The TSL accounts are doubly so, and discourage the kids greatly.

Static Schultz

I wonder if we could get a reasonable estimate of the number of unverified teens on the main grid... I think we'd all be surprised.

Hamlet Au

Very interesting discussion, keep it coming!

I did a profile of Gaia Online for GigaOM recently, and the interesting thing is how fast they've grown without any company promotion; they also emphasize user-created content, not in-world, but in the forums and an area where people can upload images etc. to have them rated.

http://gigaom.com/2007/04/22/move-over-myspace-gaia-online-is-here/

Galena Qi

What David Orban said. Given the roadblocks that SL puts to signing a teen up I'm surprised there are any users at all. It took me about 3 weeks to sign my son up, as the instructions on the web page were incorrect and incomplete. I opened and deleted 3 paypal accounts, sent numerous requests for technical assistance into the ozone, and finally was successful only because I made a plea to the (now closed) Linden Answers forum.

Jackson Widget

Being a Teen, I think I can offer some insight. You guys got pretty much all of the reasons for our grid's weakness. Steep Learning curve, closed registration, lack of freedom, - the list goes on.

When I first found out about SL, around March of 2005, I filled out the forms, up to where I had to input a credit card. I didn't want to give my parent's credit card to a company, I didn't know if there were "hidden fees" or anything. I closed my browser, and went about my life. 11 Months later I decided to see what was up with SL. By that time, February 2006, there was registration by means of SMS. I nearly lied about my age, (as I normally do on websites), but I saw that there was a place for teens.

In no way do I regret signing up for the teen grid, as it is awesome. Low user concurrency's (about 40 on right now), and remarkably low lag. An acquaintance of mine actually transferred 2 days ago. I spoke to him last night via AIM, and he said he was quitting SL because of all the lag on the main grid. He said it took him 5 minutes for him to fully see his avatar.

Moving on, another reason for the lack of teen is all of the bad press Linden Lab receives. Pornography, ageplay, lawsuits, murder. Many parents are probably over-protective about their teens, especially in the "myspace" age we live in. Remember when AOL used to always advertise about "Parental Controls"? I think those advertisements would go well with the culture we live in now, not the web culture we had 10 years ago.

Going back to open/closed registration, Teens want to feel older, they don't necessarily want to be stuck on a limited network. My friends in real life who I have told about SL, and even told them all about how they should definitely be honest about their age, have all just ignored and signed up for the main grid. I think that as Static was saying, if LL did make an estimate, or a blind survey, we would have a remarkable number of Teens on the main grid. I think this is very worrisome, all it takes is one overprotecting parent to look over little johnny's shoulder and see some explicit content for LL to get in trouble about open registration. Enough so that LL might want to consider another Amnesty Week.

just my thoughts.

Nexii Malthus

I agree with Jackson fully, also there is a good point about the name "Teen Second Life" as it has deterred many of my friends from joining, as I know from my age it can be easy to pre-judge virtual worlds or MMO games from their name. - Nexii Malthus, 17

Osprey Therian

ZOMG the teens signed up for the Geezer Grid? Heh - actually I keep mock-requesting a geezer grid. Now THAT name would not appeal to teenagers.

MariaD

As a parent, I recommended my child to lie about her age to go onto the adult grid. It's not an easy choice, especially in the case of (very graphical) SL. Here are the factors that influenced my decision:

- Size matters. Main Grid is large and has much content.
- Schoolish ("artificial"? hehe) nature of a lot of contents in TL.
- Paperwork. I don't feel like going through hassles for no clear benefit.
- Safety and anti-ageism. I don't feel like placing a huge target saying "minor" on my child's back to open her to possible discrimination. I feel rather strongly about not discriminating people based purely on age.
- Ease of avoiding dangers, and their symbolic nature. In virtual worlds, safety is just Alt-F4 away. I'd rather help my child learn to be safe, than censor or block huge amounts of contents.
- Families that play together stay together. I am not going to live in the teen grid. My child belongs with me.

I am very interested in the issue of children, sometimes young children, in mixed-age virtual worlds. I wish there were more ethnographic-type studies of the topic.

Hamlet Au

These is all fascinating. I'm still not sure I see the convincing reason why TSL is *vastly* smaller than other successful teen MMOs. Given the top MMOs have millions of active users, these seem like reasons for only having several hundred thousand-- not less than 5000.

Katharine Berry

Based on a random survey of my school a couple of months back, here are the reasons I came up with:

1) 'What's the point?'
2) 'Why can't I kill things?'
3) Forced verification prevents signing up in the first place.
4) Sign up, download it, client won't start.

Most people give up after wandering around for an hour having no idea what to do - orientation island isn't exactly helpful when it comes to this. (TG still has the old one)

People (at least, all of the boys) who get past this "Why am I here?" stage then want to go and kill everything, but can't work out how one goes about this. They aren't happy when told they can't.

A good chunk of people can't get the client to log them in without crashing, and another chunk can't actually register in the first place. (Last I checked, there was no way to even try and use a credit card on the TG signup page. Verification by PayPal only, since mobile verification doesn't work outside the US)

So if they want us to come and stay, they need a better verification system, a better tutorial, and some sort of explanation as to where one kills things. Oh, and a lighter client, and probably some review of the system requirements - they're wrong. :p

And the remainder are on the MG - for some reason lying about one's age has become standard practice.

Gerald

I fully agree with what Katharine says. Most teens I've met in my life have quite a short attention span and will usually move on from everything but MySpace. I love my Second Life, however, and it has helped me to get familiarized with building in a 3D world, nail the basic syntax of programming languages, and become more sociable with peers. It's an excellent place to express your creativity and self. I just couldn't get hooked on WoW, and other similar MMOish titles, as the repetitiveness just got old, very, very, quickly.

-Gerald Perhaps, 14.

Steven Fermi

I agree with all said above. Most teens have short attention spans and wouldn't waste their time doing something actually productive. Most of my friends would rather play the Sims or a FPS, because those require no real effort, and are generally amusing.
I wish more teens would come on, because:
More Teens = More people to talk to + More content creators + More Land Buyers (which equals more sims!)
Also, like Katharine stated above, actually verifying the account is very difficult. Even more so since they removed the possibility of registering through your phone.
God I was lucky... I slipped in during that brief month between May and June '06 when they stupidly lifted verification (even though I verified later.
Anyways, my point is, teens and Second Life don't mix.

-Your friendly architect, Steven.

poianone

IMHO, the question is simple: virtual worlds market is segmented, as it targets different categories. It's quite similar to the market for TV programs: when a teen-oriented show is necessary different from a mature-oriented show, the same is for Habbo Hotel respects to Second Life. With the differences that: virtual worlds are less generalist of television; there are not the same limitations connected to TV programs, that is to say, it is the TV network that chooses programs and broadcasting time, forcing users to adapt to them. In virtual worlds, the choice is exclusively in the hands of users, as they don't need to accept the compromises offered by someone.

Diana Hooper

I remember that picture. It's old, but I still like my frogeh suit. 8D
I didn't know anyone looked at it though.

But I've never seen the Teen Second Life name as bad, but thinking about it, it really does sound dorky.

I try to get my friends to join, but they were either stopped when they had to enter credit information or they just felt it wasn't worth it.

They feel that the TG is boring, probably because no one logs on. But if no one logs on because almost no one is online, then no one will be online. It's an evil circle.

jeanette

Well I got more help here than what I'v gotten for the latest 6 months in SL. I'v been trying to getting my teens signed up for about i zillion times, been corresponding via e-mail with returning dummy answers of no help from Linden, went to Inworld help - no help there ... Now I finally got my answers and will no longer try to get registrated - useless! We'll find our ways ...

Thanks :)

kid11

its because of the teen verification code they never send it

Adam Cranes

Ive invited 2 of my friends to play second life with me, they played for about 4 days and then quit. Why? Because they said "theres nothing to do!". And compared to games like RuneScape there are quests and missions you can do on there, but on Second Life there is no oblivious objective of the game. Building and scripting look unwelcoming and complex to a newbie and they are. On the game and around 2/5 people that make a TSL account will quit after a week or so. So should Linden Lab do something to fix this? By maybe adding more games or places to go on TSL. If you noitce, half of Teen Second Life is a spammed up wasteland, with Red Super-Cars, fire and blocks placed on abandoned land (contrinuting to Second Life's brutal lag). So newbies are probally correct, there is infact little things to do when first joining.

Qwerty

Modern teens have grown up with the internet and after coming across other social networking sites, they are no longer impressed with games like second life. Which has been herald by many teens as "sad" and in some cases, thanks to perverts accurately depicted on the media, creepy. Wonderland pedophile paradises, furry centers, and lesbian males do not help.

Spending money on digital stuff rather than real stuff isn't much incentive either.

I'm surprised that some of the comments here suggest that second life is so popular that many teens sign up with the older section. It's not *that* popular.

I have never played second life, and while it may have some positive and aspects that may be worth the play and purchase, I can not see any at first glance. But I've never played it, so I'm in no position to judge.

Anonymous

Another reason many teens might not play Teen Second Life is that it's so hard to register. It's much much much easier to get into the Main Grid than it is to get on TSL. I've heard almost half of the Main Grid is teens. Which I believe, seeing my younger friends haven't been able to get into TSL because their parents won't give out credit card info and they don't have cell phones.

sam

Teen Second Life makes no sence anyway.

1. Why do you still need to put in credit card info for the basic version (cant use mobile im in UK)?

and 2. Why would a teenager have Paypal?

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Taneisha

ok now im a teen and the reason i dont play on teen secondlife is because i dont have a cellphoen yet and my mom would not use her credit card for teen secondlife so there is no way for me to play teen secondlife and i think that all that should have been on adult secondlife i mean like the adults are the ones with the cellphone and credit card...why use that for teen secondlife:(

Taneisha

*cellphone...haha

Taneisha

and yes i do go on adult secondlife because it easier to sign-up i mean like no cellphone and no credit card so yes i signed up for adult secondlife

FurryChild

I wish I could go on secondlife, but I dont even have a card or cellphone to Attempt signing up. I dont even want all that perverted stuff on the main server, I just want to be able to make some things and chat around. I have almost 4 years til I can even poke at main grid... Why so serious, linden-folk?

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