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Wave of the Future?

When considering the future of virtuality and virtual worlds, it is important to reflect upon the demographics. There is, in fact, a new generation of children and youth who live and breath with one foot in a viritual world and one in the real. This is difficult for some adults to understand when there are so few virtual worlds built around grown ups. Second Life is the major exception, but its reach is limited by comparison. As of the fourth quarter 2008, Second Life claimed 15 million users, which sounds impressive. For children and teens, however, there was Barbie Girls, also touting 15 million users, Poptropica, 20 million, Neopets 45 million and Habbo with 100 million to mention only a few of the leading domains populated by youth. We've charted the population of the metaverse showing the demographics of the virtual. Keep in mind,these numbers are in the millions! Also, keep in mind that these young people are growing up ... fast! While there has been much ink spilled and many pages printed about how teenagers communmicate in the digital age, one thing is clear: an entire new generation of youth will soon be graduating from high school and college with a habit of building friendships, seeking entertainment, buying products and services in ways that circumvent the communications technologies that adults are accustomed to. It is also likely that this wave of young adults will seek out opportunities for education and enlightenment within their virtual worlds. The implications of these trends for the institutions that adults inhabit are profound.

virtual worlds graph
Statistics underlying this chart are drawn from KZERO