Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Were They Traitors?

For several years, Linden Labs subsidized the educational use of SecondLife by offering substantial discounts to schools buying sims.

It wasn't all altruism either.  The idea was that students would come to enjoy SecondLife and continue to use it beyond their classroom experience.  Apple and other companies had the same idea and offered hardware and software at tremendous discounts to students.

For Linden Labs, it didn't really work out that way.  Once class was over, students immediately left SecondLife for more adrenalin based platforms like World of Warcraft and Team Fortress.  Far more teachers stuck around to explore the rest of SecondLife than their students.

Some students did stick around though, and they repaid Linden Labs investment in education by becoming some of the most notorious griefers in the history of the platform.  While some academics argued the value of hacker culture, the rest of us wondered why we had to put up with their crap.

Some people forget that Linden Lab's top priority is to make a profit, and see any moves by them to increase or insure profitability as a terrible betrayal. 

Investing in the academic use of SecondLife wasn't very profitable to Linden Labs.  If anything, it became a drain on resources, which is why, in the middle of this recession, they decided to drastically cut educational subsidies and close the teen grid.  I doubt if they were ever even able to deduct the educational discounts from their taxes.

I'll be sorry to see the educational users of Second Life go.  I like academics and am most comfortable around them, but it not really too hard to see why Linden Labs made this change.

Instead of showing gratitude for the years when Linden Labs did give educational users tens of thousands of dollars worth of sim purchase and tier discounts, most I've seen so far are outraged to see the practice ended.  This sense of entitlement is common among academics, who often don't understand just how difficult it is to raise support and money for education.

Commercial support for education and other non-profits has been slashed across the board during this economic downturn.  That Linden Labs waited this long to make the cuts is a sign of just how dedicated they are to the academy.  I am sure they'd love to continue the practice, but with current business conditions it just wasn't possible.

1 comment:

Vendors and Creators