The current hype wave regarding virtual reality is now moving on to more and more news about the investment stage of the process. What I find interesting about many of these articles is that many of them refer to Second Life and Linden Lab as points of reference. I’ve talked about this before but the more of these articles appear, the more Second Life’s place in VR history gets cemented.
This is exemplified well in two recent articles. The Irish Independent talk to one time Linden Lab employee and now venture capitalist, Ethan Kurzweil. Ethan is the son of Ray Kurzweil. Ethan worked on new customer acquisition and user retention at Linden Lab over nine years ago and talks to Adrian Weckler in an article entitled “The billion-dollar investor’s guide to getting startup cash in Ireland“.
The second article is by Chris Owen at The Huffington Post and is entitled “Virtual Reality Industry Rapidly Gaining Investment – and Momentum“. Whereas both of these articles talk about where they think Second Life went wrong, the fact that they are still today talking about Second Life also points out that Second Life went right in a lot of areas.
The Irish Independent article is about more than virtual reality, it’s more about investment and in particular why investment in Dublin may be a good choice rather than San Francisco, but Second Life does get discussed. Ethan Kurzweil points out that a lot of things that happened outside of Second Life, such as Skype, Whatsapp, Telepresence etc. were the sort of ideas that people thought could all be embraced by a platform such as Second Life.
However Ethan also points out one of the reasons for Second Life’s longevity, the sticky factor. People stay in Second Life. The comment comes in response to a question about the Second Life economy, or more to the point, the fact that Second Life had an economy. Ethan points out that there’s still an economy in Second Life :
There still is. It’s still a profitable company based on the Second Life product. The one thing that probably everyone underestimated is just how sticky it is. I haven’t worked there in nine years. But there are probably users who are just as sticky, just as loyal and just as highly monetisable as they were back then.
However Ethan also points out some of the flaws with Second Life. I know many Second Life users don’t agree with these sort of sentiments but I see them repeated far too often to dismiss them :
Yeah, not the way that they implemented it, because it’s too hard, too nichey and too geeky. But I do think there’ll be a way to engage in a virtual way that is more immersive than what we have now. And maybe it’s a VR thing and not a flat world like Second Life had.
The flat virtual world society are at this point shouting “We told you so!”
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