Location: Student Blogs
image courtesy of Ryan's Koinup Site
My students are no longer noobs. They have done a great deal of thinking about virtual worlds, and almost universally, they give Linden Lab's attempts at marketing a HUGE thumbs-down. Here are two standout blog posts.
"Just recently I was talking to one of my friends across the hall. I was talking about how we use Second Life in class to help us with our writing. My friend said something along the lines of “isn’t that one of those games that 30 year old losers play in their mom’s basement?” It is this image that is hindering Second Life’s advancement in the communication technology front. To someone who doesn’t know anything about Second Life, he had the 'creepy' vibe. Linden Lab needs to fix this, and use their money to better promote Second Life, not as a serial killers paradise or loser hot spot." Read his entire post.
"The credibility of virtual worlds is not yet known by the mass public, especially among the instant message- texting- Facebook generation, which I am a part of. I had to explain the existence of Second Life to every friend I mentioned it to because they didn't have any knowledge of it. This shows a serious disconnect between virtual worlds and the real world. Word of mouth is not nearly enough to promote its existence and potential as an educational and communication technology." Read her entire post.
The biggest problem SL faces as a communications technology is the unappealing light it has been portrayed in in Hollywood and the resulting image "non-SLers" gain from these shows. I know first hand because I was one of them. I think a lot of people are hesitant to join worlds such as SL because they are afraid that they too will end up with a stalker or worse. There are a lot of skeptics out there, and I think that unless Linden Lab makes more effort to put SL in a more positive, less "serial-killer" type light then it will slowly begin to die out. Read her entire post.
From a Few Students about Facebook vs. SL:
It may be naivety, but they trust Facebook profiles more than they do profiles in SL. With Facebook, the students claim it to be harder to conceal one's identity. Interesting point, but I'm not convinced. One can construct a completely bogus life at Facebook with the right photos and activities, while still giving the company valid information when setting up one's account. Granted, that is harder than in SL. But a very clever Facebook impostor might never be sniffed out, until someone met the person face to face.
My pro-bono marketing advice to Linden Lab:
- Change the name. "Second Life" is too "creepy," to use an overly popular "student suitcase word." How about the old "Linden World"? it sounds like a theme-park where one can have some escapist fun, not a secret life.
- Funny TV: This works for the Sims. Why not promote it in ways that are funny, not pitiful, as in Dwight's case when he uses SL in The Office? Ryan recalled that show's negative message. Instead, have TV spots showing families separated by geography skiing (and falling down). Feature old high school pals meeting online to race or go dancing.