Survey: Exploring the Secrets of the Second Life Demographic

Last week I wrote about the age demographic of Second Life in a post that has led to some discussion.

Second Life's Secret Users?
Second Life’s Secret Users?

Following on from the questionnaire I ran earlier this year about land, I thought I would explore the issue of this demographic a little more, by setting up a survey designed to explore what attracts older residents to Second Life (and keeps them there).

If you are over 30 in real life and a resident of Second Life, please complete this survey – results are anonymous. But if you think there are important questions we are not asking, let us know!  And do add your thoughts in the comments.


  1. I tried to answer the questions – nonetheless… I don’t wanna be a total asshole, please, don’t misunderstand me, but let’s take a look at some questions.

    1. “What other things do you use Second Life for? You can select as many as you want!” – Considering that one of the options there is “several of the above”, but that I also can effectively select several options individually, how is that gonna be counted?

    2. The question before that one: “What do you use Second Life for primarily?” – If one of the options is “several of the above”, why not allowing me to mark the ones I want, so one can see more precisely which options I’d choose?

    3. “How much time do you spend in Second Life?” – It’s not clear to me what’s the difference between the options.

    4. “What elements of Second Life do you feel are important, on a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 = not important and 5 = essential?” – From what perspective? Let me explain what I mean: I, myself, don’t care at all about “taking on a fantasy role”, but I think it is important that SL offers that option to people. So, if the question is aimed at finding out what’s important to me, individually, considering the way I play SL/live my virtual life, I’d say it has very little importance; now, if the question is aimed at finding out if I think this is an important SL characteristic, then I would say yes – for I do believe it makes SL more attractive, to others and to myself (I love exploring and finding different places, including fantasy sims, though I seldom play any fantasy character, except for taking some pics sometimes).

    Now, being an asshole (sorry, but now my obsessive side comes out), I found something else that does not affect me, but that would if I were a bit older: “What is your age range?” – see, if I were 40, for instance, I would not know if I should choose “30-40” or “40-50”. Maybe the options should be “30-39”, “40-49” and so on.

    Well, sorry to point all that, but I really found it difficult to answer to the questionnaire in a precise way, and it made me feel a bit sad for not contributing. Maybe next time 🙂

    1. Also, as Eric pointed, not all avatars have “ages” in a human way… and let’s see, if I were a dog in SL, saying that my av is, for instance, 15 y.o. means something very different than being a 15 y.o. human av.

  2. I love a good survey, but it’s a bit tricky to answer every part of this one accurately. I’m stuck with the vague “several of the above”, which might not give you much insight. And every function of SL is to me of the maximum importance if it retains another happy SL user, even if I may not personally be involved, so they all get a 5. This may also mislead you.

    And are the objects we create in SL “art” or just “things”. Isn’t everything created in SL digital “art” (whether good or bad)? Or do artistic representations of RL functional items become merely “things”? Meh…I ticked them both. Let the critics decide.

    1. Agree with Tiffy. And also, I’m not sure how to answer the avatar age question – I have never thought of my avatar as being any age in particular, although I guess she looks to be in her twenties just because most skins tend to be youthful. But her age is really sort of irrelevant to me.

  3. I have to agree with others that the questionnaire could have been designed better. Also, why not ask folks what they think is wrong with SL? It does seem to be ailing, alas!

  4. I think I’d do more on the creation and virtual business side if I felt I could find out more of the details. I’m computer literate, I know something about CGI, I’ve made rigged mesh for other enviroments.

    Linden Labs struggle to explain anything. And it looks as though I need to learn a whole new system to have any chance of making rigged mesh that fits an Avatar. It looks like Blender, or nothing, and Linden Labs are looking paranoid about the risk of their ancient, crude, AV mesh and rigging being copied.

    Blender isn’t bad but it’s not what I am used to, and getting the necessary data to use other programs looks very difficult.

  5. Aye, there were some tricky bits here and there. @Ricco has pointed most of them out. It’s a pity, because surveys are important, and making sure that they actually capture relevant information, make them a rather useful tool.

    Maybe next time you guys can spend a little time reading a few academic articles on how to create surveys. A few simple tricks will go a long way to give you better results which make more sense and are less biased.

    Still, it’s nice that you have done this!

  6. The age range of avatar question is hard to answer. I haven’t aged all that much in RL to begin with, so you could say at least one of the avatars I’m using now looks to be about the same age as I am, although she is certainly idealized. Most of the “old” avatar skins I’ve seen strike me as exaggerated and unrealistic. What I did instead was make sure my avie had some weight on her face, not as much as in RL though, it really calls for mesh. I imagine someday someone will find an economical way to make mesh avatars based on RL photos, and if they do a good job of it I’ll happily be a customer.

    Still, the fact that a lot of middle-aged people like me are in virtual worlds and popular MMOs where we don’t often see ourselves represented, even by our own avatars, is certainly a problem. I try to have my Second Life be a resource for things that I can take back to real life with me, and not just a place to do fantasy roleplay (although that’s certainly fun).

    Presently I am mostly using SL to keep in touch with good friends and to be part of the First Unitarian Universalist (UU) Congregation of Second Life. I also shop and explore.

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