Gwyneth Llewelyn recently has posted an interesting article about the corporate and/or gamer culture in Second Life. In short her main point is that Linden Lab needs to drop gamer culture in favor of corporate culture.
For a gamer culture according to her the symptoms are the fear of Favoritism (or FIC in SL terms, see here and here) and thus missing partner programs. A corporate culture on the other hand features these programs and user groups etc. So basically it is about building a FIC (if you want to put it a bit more drastically 😉
So it’s about creating a network of experts and companies around Linden Lab to help them to fulfill their tasks and delegate client inquiries to them.
So let’s look at some of her points and my thoughts about them.
This is not a really important topic but let me mention it nevertheless. Basically I don’t know if the problem is really a “gamer” culture. From what I see the problems do not arise from gamers being in here. Most of the folks in here do not really feel like they are hard-core gamers. Actually it seems to me that in SL there are actually many people who are not really hard-core gamers but more search the social or creative aspect of Second Life. And people involved in FIC discussions also do not seem to me being gamers. Looking at online games (well, never played one actually 😉 like WoW I wonder if in there really is a fear of favoritism. I also wonder if this terms makes sense there as gaming companies do usually build their games on their own (maybe even with contractors) and residents (well, players) are not involved in that at all. Maybe even they have a better corporate culture than SL has 😉
But Gwyneth’ point is still valid of course, the idea of a FIC (or the fear of it) is a problem. Most discussion about it seems to me like some people being jealous anyway.
You cannot differentiate between experts and the uninformed
One point in her post is that you cannot tell from an avatar in world if he/she is an expert in any field or just talking nonsense. You might though
know from what that person said in the past and how fundamented it was. But for me this is basically what the world is, a second life which means you start from scratch. OTOH you are of course free to put whatever you want in your 1st life pane. Just not many people are doing that. And still stuff written there can be untrue but so it is in RL. And while looking at RL it is also apparent that there are lots of pseudo experts around and for some uninformed customer it is also hard in RL to differ between real experts and the not so real ones (expertism is very relative anyway). So having these problems in RL it should not wonder that these are the same in SL.
With having some sort of partner network this lack of information might change though and when looking at the developers in SL you also notice that not few of them do not separate between their RL and SL that much (also esp. true for media people). And if you want to do real business you of course have to reveal yourself at some point.
Another point is that Linden Lab actually is an expert in the area of SL and thus should be able to judge whether somebody has knowledge or not.
Of course (as Gwyneth states) they are a bit shy of asking residents to help because either of the fear of favoritism or maybe for some other reason (but there are facts like Skyped townhall meetings where they use residential services like the secondcast crew).
The mass of problems and solutions
Regarding Linden Lab one also needs to see that not only one person is proposing something but a lot many of them. And even if all would be experts it would be hard to find a solution based on this. Even more so, many things in SL are just new like the emerging society and the economy. There’s hardly any research done on e.g. how a virtual world economy behaves compared to other (more technical) fields. And right now we do see a big discussion on the economic topic where many “experts” seem to be around (in RL it is not different regarding economics as it does not seem to be a science with predictable results anyway).
So when seeing that mass of proposals and complaints (I’ve hardly seen any community with that much proposals/complaints actually) it is clear that it’s not easy for Linden Lab to find the right thing to do. So while I do think they listen I doubt that solutions to many problems are easy to find. So the feeling might arise that they do not listen at all.
But saying that I also wonder how many people in SL actually have a problem with it. Apparently the forums are only used by a minority of residents and most people just live their second lives having fun and taking a break from the RL problems anyway (afaik).
I second Gwyneth in that we need to get rid of any fear of favoritism (for whatever reason we have that). Whole RL works with having some people being closer to some company than others. Making this a formal thing like a partner network might also clarify under which terms and conditions people work together with Linden Lab. This might also remove any fear of what influences some people have and why. There’s so much to be done in Second Life that much help is needed to make all of this happen. So let’s start! 🙂