Friday, August 20, 2010

Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Rezzed

Lots of controversial changes going on in Second Life these days. This is the first of a series of short posts with my top-of-mind perspective on some of these tempests in a virtual teapot:
In great Junior High style, Linden Lab officially broke up with the Second Life Teen Grid through a tweet officially announcing a December 31st shutdown. The imminent closure is not surprising given the Lab's recent draconian personnel cuts and related belt-tightening measures on non-core initiatives. The Teen Grid certainly qualifies. According to Katharine Berry (thanks!) concurrency on the Teen Grid ranges from 42 to 442 virtual souls. That's somewhere between a one room school house and a small High School.

I'm a bit puzzled by those who are voicing major concerns about the related news that the main Second Life grid will be opened to 16 and 17 year olds. Given that there are probably only a few thousand active users, it's unlikely that we're going to see a noticeable flood of virtual teen refugees. And since Second Life doesn't require age verification except for X-rated areas, any child or teen of any age who wanted to hang out in Second Life could have done so all along.

Given that the Tween and Teen markets are red hot in virtual space, this is clearly another ball Linden Lab fumbled away before limping off the field. To me, the most telling point in this drama is another missed opportunity. Although I empathize with the hundreds of Teen Grid residents who will lose their community, it's all of the unborn avatars I mourn the most. The sweet sixteens who have never been rezzed.


R. said...

Erm... a market that LL fumbled?

That's like saying that Hef fumbled the tween and teen market by not publishing "Playboy For Teens" and "Teen Playboy."


Botgirl Questi said...

Ha! Not teens on the main grid, but a separate sandbox world for youth. Habbo Hotel, Whyville and the like.

Botgirl Questi said...

Here's a Massively article on Virtual Worlds for Kids