Wednesday, March 18, 2020

News and Commentary: Will The Corona Crisis Mean More People Using Second Life?

With the Coronavirus epidemic having reached around the world, life has changed greatly. For Americans, there hasn't been anything quite like this since the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 2001. Countries around the world are erecting travel bans. There are numerous stories about panic buying and hoarding in the US, Canada, and Australia. Major events are being canceled. Schools and colleges are being closed. People are being encouraged not to gather in large groups. Businesses are having more people work at home.

With more people staying home, some have been asking a question. Will this mean more people coming to Second Life?

In my opinion, there will be a few new users. But we'll likely see more infrequent users spend more time here.

In the golden age of the virtual world, we had plenty of people coming here as it was the talk of tech media and even in TV shows such as CSI. Today, advertising and word of mouth (or word of mouse) draws some here, though not as many. There's also that in addition to online games, people have simpler places to go to online such as Facebook and Netflix. With the high learning curve, only those with friends already here and the curious are likely to stay beyond a few visits.

Will more people from colleges and universities come here? Maybe a few. But I don't see more than a possible tiny few institutions joining those already here. Probably none. After Linden Lab discontinued it's educational/nonprofit discount in 2010, many places of learning responded by leaving and never coming back, not even when the Lab brought it back a few years later.

People from charities and support groups may start making more use of Second Life. With real-life "Relay for Life" gatherings being canceled, supporters will likely look to donate online and find out about the Second Life chapter. Members of groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have met in Second Life before. With the epidemic, we'll likely see many such support group meetings of these and others inworld. A number of veterans have continued to use Second Life for years to meet up. It's likely we'll see a few more of them as well.

But what about those residents already here?

Not everyone with accounts comes to Second Life every day. Their main interests and/or group of friends may be elsewhere online, so come here only occasionally to check up on someone or somewhere they like. They might have been too busy with a job with long hours, or perhaps working two jobs. And other reasons. It's on the record that there are a few people whom drop by once a month or so just to pay the tier on their virtual homes, maybe spend a few minutes to look at the scenery, then leave. These are the kinds of people we'll be likely to see more of.

Eventually, the crisis will pass. And many of these people will go back to their old schedules. But others will have found some reasons to stick around here. Maybe a club where a DJ plays tunes they hadn't heard for years. Maybe a place that appeals to them deep down. Maybe a group of people that gives them a sense of purpose (such as the Relay for Life). So out of the crisis, Second Life very well could get a few new users, and some more active users.

Bixyl Shuftan

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