Second Life’s New User Avatars

Designing Worlds has a show up in which they interview people running Japanese new user help regions. I watched the show on SLArtists, the Treat.tv site seemed to be down this morning, at least I could not access it. The video is here: Designing Worlds DW 245 – Japan’s New Residents. The Designing Worlds page that should have the video is here: Designing Worlds visits the Japanese regions to learn how they support new users – now on the web!

Taciturnly - April 2014

Taciturnly – April 2014

About 3:30 minutes in, they talk about the problem the new user avatars are causing. They feel this is a MAJOR obstacle to improving player retention.

The new mesh avatars for new users was thought by some to be a definite problem for new users. The thinking was they would create more problems than they solve and harm player retention more than help. The people doing support in beginner areas are confirming the problems are manifesting. The question they are hearing often is, the promos say we can customize our avatars, so why can’t I change my avatar?  

I hope Linden Lab management can see the problem and acknowledge it needs attention.

I suspect that this is a problem that is hard for management to see. We know that what users say is discounted until there is some other form of corroboration. That bias toward discounting is a learned behavior taught by how users communicate with the Lab. So, we can’t blame the Lab for their behavior. We have to find ways to get them connected to the realities of an issue.

Good corroboration is often statistical data collected by the Lab. The problem is numbers tell us what is happening, but the why is often obfuscated in the ongoing cloud of things happening and changing. When one is not engaged in a task, like supporting new users, and in an area where a problem manifests then the statistical data can misunderstood.

For instance, one could be in Firestorm support. By the time an SL user is using Firestorm they are a more experienced users. It takes some experience just to find there are third party viewers and find the Firestorm viewer. By that time I suspect a majority of such users have already solved the appearance problem. The result is those in FS Support would see the problem as much less a problem than would those working in the areas where new users arrive.

With Linden Lab management removed from in-world support they would be prone to being completely out of touch and reading statistical data in ways disconnected from the reality of what is happening. I hope they have at least one person in world experiencing the help and new user regions and that person working with those doing testing for improved player retention.

Also, with groups of people providing support to help users and keep them in SL, the numbers showing in stats are adulterated. I am left wondering if the Lab has considered those effects and whether it is even possible to measure or estimate the effect of such groups. If not, the effect of the new user avatars is not accurately shown by the stats.

2 thoughts on “Second Life’s New User Avatars

  1. A little while back I mentioned this to Ebbe after one of the meetings he showed up for. He said that the “stone face” his new avatar had was unsatisfactory and after someone (Whirley?) pointed out to him that the face was not adjustable he said he would look into it. My impression was that he thought all the avatar customization sliders worked and was surprised that they didn’t.

    • I expect communication within a larger company to be weak, so that is no surprise.

      We have known and seen the results of the Lindens not actually using SL. I guess that is true even with Ebbe.

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