Interns create game for XBox 360 and questions about Second Life

(This should probably be 2 separate blog posts but the topics are related and I'm feeling impatient this morning)

I don't know much about video games, but I get why other people like them. Once you start playing, I imagine that the quest to reach the next level or increase your score is hard to resist. I'm competitive like that, but I'm more of a Sudoku kind of a gal and right now, finishing a puzzle is enough for me.

I have thought of the whole gamer thing as being mostly age-related, but my mind has changed a bit on that. Obviously, there are plenty of gamers that are young, but I would not be surprised if gamers over 30 equaled those under. I see it as more of a cultural thing; aside from the entertainment involved in playing the game, there is a sense of community. You can share your stats with your friends. It's a social thing. I get it. I don't play, but I get it.

So it's easy to admire the cool factor from the outside. I read today about some interns developing games for the XBox 360.  OK, so I don't play the games but I can see how much fun it would be to do an internship and then have your game actually come to fruition. Good for them.

Speaking of technology that makes me feel a little out of the cool loop, there's Second Life, where a virtual job fair is taking place. I hadn't really planned on blogging about this because I'm not sure that many marketers get into Second Life. But I thought I could at least confirm that hypothesis. I'm not able to participate in the job fair because some zippy little video card is needed (did I mention I am not a gamer?) and I can't be without my machine this week to get it installed. Besides, I'm definitely NOT the right person to be chatting up the techies that I imagine mostly inhabit Second Life. You want to talk about technology enabled social awkwardness? I can have a great conversation with a marketer, but at this point in my career, I've become a specialist. When it comes to talking with a developer, I'm not sure how much beyond "what languages do you program in?" I can get. Hmm, last time I was screening tech folks, Y2K was all the rage, or the fear. One or the other.

I think that one of the challenges of the space that I work in is that there are many technology tools that are available...too many to keep track of, quite frankly. But at the core of our work are relationships and while many of the tools enable relationships (like LinkedIn), some of them are either intended or used to replace relationships. It's hard to weigh the value of the new stuff that comes up because the novelty of many of the tools is staggering. They are impressive, but you (well, at least I) have to question whether they solve a problem I have. I don't want to be a nay-sayer because these tools may solve a problem other people have, but I look at something like Second Life and I wonder whether, outside of the novelty, it meets a recruiting need for my team. I realize that it isn't a "recruiting tool" but the opportunity is being marketed.

There's actually something to be said for the novelty in and of itself. It gets attention. So if your target audience is paying attention to it, I could understand there being some value there for you, even if just an opportunity to market to them.

So anyway, here's my question: do marketers care about Second Life? Specifically, do marketers as an audience care about Second Life? If you are marketing to tech folks and you care about Second Life because that is where your audience is, that is something different. But as the consumer, is it a (virtual) place where you would go? As marketing recruiters, should we be spending our time to find you there or not?

Comments (6)

  1. Lauren Smith says:

    My brother in law is the VP of a small LCD monitor OEM and he was asking me about Second Life a few months ago before Linden launched their Japanese division. His opinion was that it was important to at least have a foot in the door in case Second Life became an important medium. The damage that a small company like his would incur if they missed out on a new market would be pretty significant, especially if a competitor was able to gain a lot of mindshare early on.

    I’m still of the opinion that as an occasional diversion Second Life might be an enjoyable place to visit, but I prefer my First Life.

    I guess the answer to your question, whether I as a consumer would go to Second Life to research a product, is that it depends on the product. The two primary benefits of Second Life are the ability to interact with salespersons in a virtual setting and the 3-dimensional representation of the world.

    A normal website provides one-way information flow. The user is responsible for figuring out the information he wants and the website can only provide the appropriate information. Some technologies can attempt to anticipate the user’s requests, but computer programs are a far cry from actual humans when it comes to intuiting customer needs.

    Also a website is flat. While there are technologies that allow a semi-3-dimensional view of products, Second Life builds the entire Linden world around it. Being able to look at a 3-d representation of a product, to walk around it (in the case of a car) or to take a tour of it (in the case of, say, Microsoft’s campus or an apartment) is a huge improvement over looking at a normal website.

    They don’t replace the actual experience of interacting with humans or touching and seeing with your own eyes the product, but it’s the next best thing. The question is whether the convenience of doing this at home makes logging onto the Second Life service more attractive than going outside and doing it in real life.

    For me, not so much.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Lauren – what I found most interesting about your response was your interpretation of my question (which I had a hard time spitting out). It wasn’t necessarily whether you would go there to check out a product, but would you go there as something other than part of your job; other than using it as a tool to market to people; would you go there for some personal reason at all? But your interpretation of the question is really interesting bc I had not thought about people going there to check out a product. I was just wondering what you would go there for on any personal level. Now I know that your answer is not much. I agree with you that First Life is pretty great. Plus it doens’t require a video card.

    I do have an avatar set up even though I cna’t get in. WOuld still like to at least expeirence it at some point…maybe on someone else’s machine…someone more involved in the video world.

  3. tod hilton says:

    You might be surprised at the age distribution of gamers. Check out for some quick nuggets, like:

    – The average game player is 33 years old and has been playing games for 12 years.

    – Thirty-five percent of American parents say they play computer and video games. Further, 80 percent of gamer parents say they play video games with their kids. Sixty-six percent feel that playing games has brought their families closer together.

    – In 2005, 25 percent of Americans over the age of 50 played video games, an increase from nine percent in 1999.

  4. Ariel says:

    Honestly, I think marketers are more excited about Second Life than players are. There’s a huge amount of hype, and not many active users, honestly. More about this:

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    See, that is the difference in what I am talking about. Marketers may be "bullish" on it to reach their target markets, but what if your target market is marketers?

    It’s the difference between doing the marketing and being marketed to. As someone who is trying to reach marketers, I’m not sure it’s a good place to be. But if I were trying to reach techies, gamers, graphics people, younger people, hot avatars (just kidding), it would be a good place to be.

    So let me phrase the question this way: as someone who "markets" to marketers, is it a target rich environment?

    I knew I was in trouble trying to phrase the question. 🙂

  6. Sirius says:

    Second Life is the most pathetic thing ever. Avoid it at all costs.

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