Second Life enjoyed a meteoric rise to the top of the Web 2.0 pile in recent times, with Fortune 500 companies, major organisations and even rock bands setting up shop in the virtual world. Some of the polish seems to have been chipped from the wood of late however, and with all the bad press Second Life has been getting lately, people are begining to wonder whether or not the game will survive for much longer. Even its creators have expressed caution with regards its popularity and how long it will last.
Second Life is, in case you missed it, a 3D virtual world built (programmed) almost entirely by its residents. First launched in 2003 by Linden Lab its core audience comes from among the 30-40 year old age group. The game has, as the internet joke runs, replaced many peoples’ first lives.
At last months Second Life Community Convention the founder of Linden Labs, Philip Rosedale, was quoted as saying “This is something that everybody on Earth is going to use." Not only that, but he also claims that virtual worlds will be “bigger than the web” in the future. His aloofness, it turns out, may all be for show. Only moments before in his presentation he had been joking over powerpoint graphics showing the glitches and problems SL residents find so infuriating; such as the server lag time and the little gremlins that cause problems with objects and avatars.
Rosedale went on to say that Second Life “is still very early and very small” and that he was unhappy about the amount of media attention attracted by Second Life, “Everyone in the media [jumps ahead] a lot more than the people here. Everybody wants to jump ahead and say, ’Oh my God, the future’s alive!’...It’s the natural myopia of emerging systems like this."
Although the big hats at Linden Lab are cautious about it, it would seem this is having no effect on the population of the Second Life world. Second Life is not only popular among the Joe Soaps of the world. Businesses, colleges and charities have all jumped on the bandwagon and set up shop, with companies such as Dell, CNET and Intel having virtual offices in the world of Second Life.
Second Life’s actual population however has been a topic of debate over the last few months. At a staggering 9,686,643 accounts created it’s clear that people are willing to accept the glitches and server lag for what they are and play the game no matter what. Or so we thought. How many of us have registered for something and then never visited the site again? Many registered Second Life residents, it turns out, are not active ones, and the number of active residents – or the “real” population figure - doesn’t quite add up to that nine million.
The SL site provides handy statistics for anyone to view. For example, the number of visitors in the last seven days was 424,291. The number for the last 30 days is 930,030.