Sunday, August 2, 2009

5.3.4: Virtual world accounts reach 579m

The SLENZ blog is one worth subscribing to. Posts are always full, informative and well written! Number 121 includes reference to reports from kzero, a UK consultancy concerned with "the marketing dynamics relating to virtual worlds". The results are very interesting - and re nicely presented in a "Universe-graph" (here). The graphs show registration numbers for various worlds across different age groups (target audiences) over various years. Registrtaion growth is particularly high across the 9 to 12 and 13 to 18 age brackets.

The difficulties with the number '579 million' are primarily twofold:
  1. Registration is not a good indicator of actual activity, and
  2. Individuals can have multiple registrations across different virtual worlds.
The leap from marketing potential to higher education potential is also not very clear from the statistics... particularly when the various virtual worlds are broken down by 'sector'. The genre of higher education is not well represented, though gaming, social chat and TV/film/books are. It is important that the significance of growing registration is not blown out of proportion as an indicator that such contexts are ready for higher education to exploit, as the use of virtual worlds for the purposes of academic learning is not as simple as having technically savvy users! Rather, what we ought to be considering is whether the genre of academic learning can be facilitated through such environments.

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