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Monday, August 25, 2008


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Daman Tenk

It seems to me that younger people, those that grew up with PCs and consoles and didn't experience the old days of pioneering - tend to have much less patience towards technical flaws in software. They can't stand lag or bugs or any of the crap Linden Lab sends its users through day after day. The older you get, the more patient you get it seems.

Not to say that I disagree with the list of reasons you put down. I think those 4 make sense as well.

Mark Young

Habbo has a different business model than SL, maybe that leads to different results, but I like your hypothesis about immersiveness.

In many of his recent talks, Clifford Nass talks about a century long trend of increasing time spent consuming media, as new mediums pop up, stealing time from preceding mediums but not killing them off. As we spend more and more time with media, we're running out of time for new mediums, so younger people are behaving differently, madly multi-tasking. Younger people's minds are now working differently than their elders as they web surf, IM, use handsets, listen to music, watch video and do their homework, all at once. An immersive medium is not well suited for playing in that mix.

Darien Mason

Also, look at the business model. I can go into any drugstore or 7-11 in the country and buy a Habbo card with credit/time towards the game, right next to the iTunes cards.

I *WISH* buying Linden Dollars was that easy!

Otenth Paderborn

Isn't Gen Y the group *between* Gen X and the teens you say dominate Habbo? (And from everything I've heard about the Teen Grid, comparing it to *anything* just means it will fail on most counts.)

Which is not to say that your points may not also apply to 20-somethings on the Main Grid of SL.

Suzanne Aurilio

The educators' argument is a bit misplaced in the discussion and misrepresents what might motivate someone (of any age) to get involved in SL. Count down the list of things an average performing college student attends to just to make the grade, add the SL learning curve and the observation that SL isn't always used effectively (as an educational technology)and it makes sense to me why some students are uninterested.

Generalizing student experiences to the population deflects attention away from some critical variables like: SL is an entertainment platform. It is a technologically sophisticated palette to create on. It demands a tremendous investment of time and a rather high end computer.

Hamlet Au

"Isn't Gen Y the group *between* Gen X and the teens you say dominate Habbo?"

@Otenth: Hmm, Wikipedia says Gen Y is generally defined as born between 1980 (i.e., 28) and 1994 (i.e., 14.) A guy from Sulake (Habbo's developer) says their main demographic band is 13-16:


You make a good point, though, Habbo users are active as young as 11, looks like. Not sure we know enough about Generation Z or V or whatever we're calling kids in that range, though.

CronoCloud Creeggan

It could be as simple as "low system requirements". Habbo will run on any old thing, even an old machine a parent might hand off to a kid. SL can run at less than 10fps on a system bought new last month.

Rusalka Writer

Here's a basic that comes up over and over: where do you go in Second Life? Seems to me that when you sign up with Habbo, you know you're going somewhere to join friends. In SL, you're usually joining on your own, and where do you go?

I'm a dedicated SL'er, but I recognize that the question remains. SL should have learned the lesson NYC learned that LA did not, that a city (or virtual world) needs public space. SL needs a Central Park, or several. Not Orientation or Help Islands that are isolated and cut off, but public open space where people can gather.

Of course, sims crashing at 40 occupancy is another problem. Another one that Habbo, from the picture above, seems to have overcome.


Uhm, surely the reason GenY doesn't want to engage with SL is that it's full of GenX's?

WE are the reason younger residents are few in number. When you were 20 did you want to hang-out with your parents? Did you want to go to the places they go? Did you have secret fantasies of having cybersex with your friends parents?

You see the problem now? :-)

Nexii Malthus

I would also like to point out that an incredibly proportion of the main grid population may be under 18. I think this is because of the lucrative illusionary offer that "the MG is far bigger meaning it would be better"? And the fact that registrations don't require ID verification make it very enticing to lie about their age to be a 30yr old or something.

I think the roles should be switched, MG should need ID verification ( After all, adult-themes are common ), and TG should be the most easiest to join.

Why should an 18 and above Adult Area be easy for kids to join, and a Kids Area of ages between 13 to 17 be very hard to get into? Doesn't surprise me why I still accidentally meet teenagers on the MG on a regular basis, god forbid what they do in an adult area even.

Then again, I always hated this age-ist attitude, this..this.. disgusting attitude to label human people, their entire knowledge, attitude, personality, experience and feelings on a single number, absolutely disgusting practice...I have seen far too many times in my life as I grew up in the TG to MG that I have found that I actually like immature people. Why? They are open minded, don't cause unneeded drama, just want to get on, Sex is Taboo, Can spell and use grammar properly most of the time, etc. I therefore turn the tables.

The whole MG/TG Adult/Kids idea should be scrapped for something better.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Technical (and pedagogical) point: The LL client has outstripped our campus' lab machines...ran fine last year, but it will barely run on the Lenovo/IBM PCs where I teach writing (the Mac lab was booked or I'd be in there!).

Student frustration at this is real--and when the client does run, often the graphics look "lame" when compared to what I see on my desktop power-house. If LL could offer a lower-end client (will that be SLim?) for less powerful machines it might help lure in students. If Habbo's graphics are good enough for them, then graphics are not the impediment to Millennnials embracing SL.

LL at least has made older clients still functional with the current grid. It's a start.

Dedric Mauriac

Simplicity. Nothing to install. No big downloads. No hard-to-use interfaces. Easy to link on the web. Coolness factor. Lack of having to play with parents.

cyn vandeverre

Nexii's point is an interesting one. If there are many under-18s on the regular grid, I bet they don't just register as being 18 or 19, but instead, much older. That means that lower age statistics would be extremely unreliable.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Non-scientific survey: yesterday I polled 18 freshmen who will use SL with me.

Not one of them had heard of SL or Habbo before.

Arwyn Quandry

The thing about Habbo is, it's a lot like Lively. You get a dictated way you can make a room, a dictated clothing set that the people creating the game give you, dictated kinds of furniture, etc. Sure, within that you can do what you want, but people also do exactly what they're being told to do by the Moderators and owners of the site. They'll set up a contest, say, "Make a room inside of a ship". People will go and buy tons and tons of stuff from the site to comply with that. Sure, there's some cool stuff (Rooms) that people make on their own (Having been a roleplayer, I saw this first hand) but mostly they make within a set range of stuff, like armies, restaurants, modeling agencies, and game rooms. It's all very carefully sanitized and wrapped for the protection of the users. There are few real innovators in it.

My generation likes to have freedom within restraints. We're used to being overparented, being told how to do stuff and not allowed to fall down. If we do fall, we're babied usually. Fortunately for me, my parents weren't like that. Most teens would probably be overwhelmed by the choices of SL, and also frustrated with the interface. If they can't learn something within an hour, it's unlikely that they'll continue to try. If we want to keep teen customers, we need to make SL easier to use, and that's only the tip of the iceberg. It all depends on who you want to attract.

Court Goodman

For builders, the knowledge required to build well in SL takes some years to accrue. While basic prim construction can be learned relatively quickly, sculpts and baked textures are something that has to be learned and practiced, sometimes for years. Sometimes til theyre about, say 30ish years old. Worlds that put a cap on the resolution/detail, like the Habbo-type world, can keep the standards to a reachable level.

Turn the tables tho, and a world like Habbo aimed at an older crowd will get ridiculously boring fast.

Mark Rummler

I can't speak for everyone, but I can tell you right now from me and a few like me, a significant amount of why SL isn't popular among younger groups is there is nothing fashionable or intriguing about it from a younger perspective. I think you're all over thinking this, which also makes it soooo completely unfashionable. As principal media consumers Gen Y (myself included in the current definition) evaluate things immediately. As Daman Tenk alluded, media consumption is a balanced thing for us, a way of life not a hobby, and as such things that take our time have to earn it. Everyone I know in REAL life who knows about SL doesn't care about it at all. SL is seen as a sort of lame haven where you have conversations you could have in real life only you are dressed as a fairy and 10 times more attractive. Not to mention that my friends who are going in to game development (as am I) or graphics see it as the primary reason Poser is still around and are anything but impressed with it's visual presentation. While you all talk about how technically amazing SL is, to the rest of us it looks like some weird bland mannequin world full of people who work too much to have a life. We can get that elsewhere and have more fun doing so (WOW is another reason SL will never get this demographic.) Which brings me to the most important point, irony. Our young culture is ruled by irony, but hates it. The post-post-modern deconstructive ideal that drives many young people today is not going to be interested in a virtual world where you can own land and build a house and start a career and find a significant other and fill your house with hand-designed IKEA clone furniture and talk to your gay neighbor who likes to wear tophats. We HATE that crap in real life, why in the world would we be interested in paying someone so we could do it in a virtual one? Another reason is that the space SL could take in our lives is already taken by things we have a growing disinterest for anyway. While the numbers of registered users on myspace and facebook and deviantart and gaia online etc are at record highs, so are the percentages of inactive profiles. Also while the 3d world and avatar system in SL may be nice for you, our generation doesn't need as much reality unless it's REALLY pretty, or there's more of a purpose to it than sitting around talking, or the freedom to make your fairy(to go with the theme) fly around your white, modern compound. We live with abstraction, we grew up with it, some of our first memories are putting ourselves in the shoes of a blob of pixels trying to find another blob of pixels and save the kingdom. Also, it's not a technical issue, most of us that would be the possible demographic that would play SL grew up with pirated versions of photoshop and 3ds max. Even in high school computer labs. Some of us have used these tools since childhood. Point is: the novelty is lost on us, and probably always will be. Until someone can prove that there is something interesting and fun possible in second life without having to pay too much money or spend too much time we will steer clear. If it is not possible to not pay too much money, and not spend too much time, then SL better offer one hell of an amazing, immersive, and powerful experience.

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