Second Life after the hype

By Razib Khan | November 9, 2011 12:26 am

Slate has an interesting retrospective on why Second Life never fulfilled the hype. My own caution was rooted in an argument from a tech journalist who pointed out that the exact same things stated about Second Life were once stated about MUDs. He actually simply repeated quotes from stories in the early to mid-1990s and compared them to those in 2006 to illustrate how the same passages were being recycled again. He knew about the power of the hype, because he participated in the first wave before it faded. Of course Second Life was much more sophisticated than any MUD,but it struck me that when the same reasoning is applied to a more perfected version of the phenomenon the same outcome may ensue.

In other news, Facebook’s plateau continues….

MORE ABOUT: Facebook, Second Life
  • Cathy

    The reason virtual worlds are never as successful as their counterparts in virtual space, MMORPGS, is because there is no overlying goal. If we want to just piddle around with avatars and build them houses and get them jobs, The Sims does that quite nicely and doesn’t require an active Internet connection. Whereas with an MMO, there is still the immersive virtual world with the addition of a stated goal (or a few thousand of them.) The games have an end point, but there’s always something to do – even if that something is just logging on and helping a friend. There’s a reason that the original Everquest is still going strong.

  • Jacob Roberson

    > read Second Life after the hype

    > shout Read the 2L/MUD article

    Jacob shouts: Read the 2L/MUD article
    > shout I’m still going with the MUDs occasionally.

    Jacob shouts: I’m still going with the MUDs occasionally.
    > shout For what they do, a MUD does it and no one else does. For everything else it was just a stop along the way to graphics that don’t look like crap.

    Jacob shouts: For what they do, a MUD does it and no one else does. For everything else it was just a stop along the way to graphics that don’t look like crap.
    > shrug
    You shrug your shoulders.

  • Brian Too

    The talk about Second Life sure has trailed off to almost nothing. Makes me wonder if it shares a fate with Geocities, AOL, Friendster, etc.

    Heck, maybe it shares a fate similar to VRML and various virtual world web sites? Perhaps that is the better comparison.

  • Unsure

    If they are still talking about Second Life…then has it really failed ???

  • Tateru Nino

    Second life’s doing just fine. Q1 2011 was a profitability record for Linden Lab. Still going after 13 years – not without its troubles, but from a financial standpoint has been wildly successful. But then, if you redefine failure enough, you can claim that anything has failed.

  • Moni Duettmann

    Sorry, but that statistic needs explanation. It’s just a curve… what do A-F mean? What does “search volume” say about the actual quality and perspective of a platform? It may be stunning to compare second hand quotes, but I find this too simple to make a substantial statement.

    In a way Second Life today is like Apple before the iMac… an elitist toy misunderstood by most people, but those who have it know why they are loving it. Only a Steve Jobs of Second Life is missing. The current management puts effort in the wrong topics, that’s my opinion. They try to make SL a mass product. But it is still cutting-edge technology, that needs to be serviced and developed. The freedom (of a “goal” as in “games”) cannot be the reason for it being used by too few. It is actually the one important thing that makes it stand out of all the computer games available.

    I’m not sure if the current campaign to introduce gaming tools to SL will really make it much more attractive to many. Linden Lab should rather work on developing what’s there, step by step. Making a more acceptable viewer, introducing a real life animation interface, improving server connection speed and so on.

  • Tateru Nino

    @Moni Search volume doesn’t have any correlation to service usage, so you’re right to be skeptical about that part, IMO.

  • Careless

    Facebook’s percentage of internet users visiting it continues to rise, but it looks like they’ve slowed in page view increase.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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