Each year the CEO of Linden Lab addresses the residents on the future direction they plan to take Second Life. This year Rod Humble gave the address. I like to get the audio of the address and summarize the key points. I think people can read faster than most people can talk. Plus later when I need to remember what Rod said, I have a searchable summary of the address. So, here are the key points as I see and understand them.
If you want the bottom line, jump to my Summary at the end.
The events and meetings are being streamed through UStream.com. The first meeting I went to, Future of Mesh, they changed the stream. We had to scramble to find the correct stream. In Rod’s keynote it was a bit easier. But, in both cases those attending in-world had problems. So, I suggest if you are planning to attend any of the meetings, watch via UStream in your browser. The URL’s are in the schedule. See: http://schedule.slconvention.org/. Also, the videos should be archived there.
The crowded regions were crashing my SLV 3.0.1 and Dolphin 2 viewers. Bummer.
A Bit Different
If you have read my other summaries of videos, you know I tend to stay with the time line. I decided that will not work well for this summary. I’ll try to provide the idea I took away and provide time marks to the places in the video where the subjects are being talked about.
Second Life IS Growing and Strong
If you have been reading the articles I post on statistics for Second Life, you may want to know how anyone can think SL is growing. Rod goes into that and I found his explanations came across as rather candid. I felt I was being honestly talked to, not hyped. It was a real contrast between what Rod was saying and how he was saying it verse what I was seeing in the recent Ohio GOP debates and the progressive party’s comebacks.
First Rod chose in part to join Linden Lab because of the strength he saw in Second Life. (TM: 01:15) A big strength is the new sign ups. When Rod joined Linden Lab (LL) the sign up rate was about 10,000 per day. When he signed up he thought the sign up process was ridiculously hard and the stats showed a large number of people were never completing the sign up process. By, April he had that changed. Signups are running on average about 15,000 per day now.
The strength of those signups is something exceptional for an 8 or 10 year old game (I use the word game loosely). Rod’s experience with games, MMO and retail, shows that games grow, reach a plateau, and decline. Sequels can provide a boost in growth, but they only extend the pattern. So, what Second Life is doing is the exception.
The $64 question is, why is Second Life so popular? What is the draw? Rod’s belief is no one knows. He plans to work with residents toward understanding that in the coming year. Obviously if that could be figured out, it could be used in marketing and to improve game design.
An interesting change in SL is its demographic. The change is distorting the metrics we use to measure growth in SL. The faster growing segment of SL is the twenties something college-age user. This demographic spends more time on message boards, forums, and other social areas of SL than actually in SL. So, the concurrency numbers are not changing as we would expect. There are more unique users logging in each day, but not for as long. With MMOG’s it is common to see people spend time talking about and preparing for time in world. Rod sees it as important to enhance that aspect in SL.
(TM: 05:30) While Rod does not know what Second Life is… he does see indicators he calls sign posts that hint at SL’s popularity. He relates that he thought SL would be like the SIM’s, get a job, meet some NPC’s (Non-Player Characters), and may be some people. But, SL is nothing like that.
A huge difference is the first sign post: creativity. In Rod’s thinking everyone in SL creates. That may be social interactions, groups, viewers, clothes, things… whatever. But, everyone gets some measure of accomplishment from creating in SL. Rod points out that when people ask what is the point of SL? The answer is: the point is, there is no point. So, there is nothing to get in the way of the basic human desire to create.
The second sign post is the Shared Experience. One is not just painting or sculpting at home. They are sharing their creations in a real-time creative process. Other people get to see what we have made. I think that is a very basic human trait we see in expressed in early childhood, ‘Look what I did, momy!’ We just like to create and share. Rod thinks that may be what sets us apart for other life on the planet.
The third sign post is privacy. (TM: 07:00) Rod is one that likes the idea of privacy. He sees SL as an original bastion of pseudonyms and user privacy. To get a real sense of Rod’s values on this topic listen to that part of the video. I come away with the idea that he is sincere and serious about maintaining second Life user privacy. (TM: 26:15) There are a number of layers within the Lab in place to protect user privacy. Plus there are two levels of oversight.
What is Linden Lab?
Linden Lab is very much not Second Life. Second Life is a product of Linden Lab. We will see new products coming out of Linden Lab. Their forte is in creating shared creative spaces. What that may look like he did not go into. Should be interesting.
Notice: there is a page 2 link below the Plurk button. More blog stuff to fix…