In the hopes of better understanding the demographic make-up of Second Life residents I conducted a survey earlier this year. The survey ran from Spring 2014 and just recently wrapped up. To gather data, I placed survey terminals at the Postmoderna SL HQ location inside of Second Life, dance venues, the Second Life 11th Community Birthday Celebration (SL11B) and on the community forums.
During that time, I was able to capture 119 completed surveys. Two of them were only partially completed. In order for us to have results where we could have a 99% confidence level we would have needed 1000 completed surveys. Of course we weren’t even close. 100 however, would give us at least a 90% confidence level of the overall population. So I shot for that. If we can live with the resulting 10% margin of error, we can say we have a pretty good picture of the current population.
What this means in layman’s terms is that if 50% of the survey respondents say they are female then the true number is between 40% and 60% (+/- 10% from the 50% answered). I know that appears to be quite a range but that is still good enough to draw some interesting conclusions.
To keep the following information manageable, I have broken the discussion down into parts. This first part addresses the first 5 survey questions. At the end of this article, please take the time to leave some feedback and let everyone know what questions or thoughts come to mind.
You may also view the full published results at Survey Monkey here.
Q1: How long have you been a resident of SL?
The first question asked how long the resident has been in Second Life. The results indicated that more than half (58%) have been a resident for more than 5 years. In second place are those that have been in Second Life (SL for short) between 3 and 5 years (25.2%). This means that more than 80% of the population of SL has been a resident for more than 3 years and represents a pretty committed group of fans.
Q2: What is your real life age range?
Now I found the results from the answers to this question extremely interesting. Player statistics for most games in the adult genre put most online players between 35 and 55 with the ages skewing even younger for most shooter and console games (about 16- 30). Second Life is a virtual world. This is a bit different from an online game. There is a more social dynamic in virtual worlds (including MMORPG games) where exchange of a virtual currency is present which, tends to make the player base more mature.
Q3: In a typical month, how much do you spend to buy Lindens?
This question was interesting too. The virtual currency of Second Life is the Linden. The exchange rate from USD to Lindens is about 1:257. So basically is costs about $10 USD to buy about $250L.
It is apparent from the answers, that most people do not spend much money to purchase Lindens to use in their virtual life. This could be the result of many things. It could be related to age, income level, or that many people find other ways to earn Lindens.
In SL you can work as a dance club host or DJ in exchange for tips and/or provide or sell services or products in your store or on the SL Marketplace. You could also go to work for someone in Second Life such as an agent for a property management company the sells or rents virtual real estate. However, I believe that the more successful business owners inside of SL are similar in respect to many real-life business owners. Those people invest in their businesses and are in business to make real money, not small amounts that equate to only a few real-life dollars per hour. The population that makes up successful business owners or very wealthy people is about 4% of the population in the real world. You might notice some similar trends in the questions that follow that appear to validate those similarities to what exists in the virtual world.
I digged a little deeper to see if there was a relationship between Residents’ real-life ages and the amount of Lindens they purchased during the month. I did not see any patterns outside of the fact the ages with more disposable income spent more. However, as you will notice, the majority of people in Second Life are in the middle-aged and more mature age brackets. With that said, those age groups contain as many people (as a ratio) that speant very little ($0-15 a month) as the other age groups. You can see that the frequency of those that speant upwards of $50/month was higher the older the resident was (until you cross over age 60). This is most likely due to disposable income. Overall, the majority of residents speant on average in the $0-15 (blue bar) and $16-25 (red bar) a month ranges to purchase Lindens.
Q4: In what state or U.S. territory do you live? (in real life)
From this question, I wanted to see if I could get a feel for any patterns that existed geographically. Bottom line, SL residents are spread all over the country and world. California, Ohio and Florida boasted the greatest percentage from this sample. Globally, the majority outside the US, come from the United Kingdom. I cut the graph off at the higher population zone to keep it shorter. If you would like to view the remainder of the list, you can view the full survey results here.
Although this is just a sampling, from the 119 people that took the survey, a majority of them came from the USA. The numbers as you can see, are followed closely by the United Kingdom then spread throughout Europe and some in Asia. It would be nice to see what these numbers look like next year when we conduct the survey again. Hopefully we have more completes and can have a better picture of the global numbers.
Q5: What is your approximate average household income (in real life)?
This was an interesting one too. I was really curious to see how this would turn out. I wanted to see if there was a common thread, especially as it related to how much money someone invested in their avatars.
Based on the survey results, a majority of the residents from the sample have household incomes in the low to medium ranges ($0-75,000). This is rather interesting. What would contribute to this?
Because the results left me scratching my head and wanting to know more, I did some further digging to see if there were any other factors that may exist. I cross-referenced income with amount speant on Lindens, age and geography.
I started off comparing the real-life household income ranges with the average amount speant on purchasing Lindens every month. There were some interesting things that jumped out at me when I looked at it. The most obvious was the low range for purchasing Lindens ($0-$15). It coincided with the real-life household income level. As income went up, the amount speant on purchasing Lindens also went up.
A little tidbit that jumped out at me is that one person that spends $500+ per month to purchase Lindens in the low income range ($0-$15). I wonder if that person is a Second Life business owner that invests in their business and their income is directly attributable to what they make in Second Life. Or are they just someone with a shopping addiction? 😀 Makes me wonder…
When we take a look at household income and global geography, we see there really is not enough data to paint any proper pictures of locations outside the US. In the US, incomes are all over the place with the low to medium income ranges being the dominant group. With the exception of New Zealand, Germany and Finland most of the higher incomes are also in the US. Since there are so few completed surveys from those countries, it is really hard to draw any conclusions about incomes outside the US.
Since the bulk of the residents in this sample come from the US, I felt it prudent to look at the income and US States locations to see if any patterns existed. Since there are 50 States, I have trimmed the analysis down to where the higher numbers (minimum of 3 residents) were located.
What we see here is interesting. The states that have the highest population of residents also have highest low to low-middle income ranges. Income is spread out but obviously the majority is in the low to middle-income ranges. If I were to market for income ranges by state, I would have a difficult time trying to figure out the positive market. Not a whole lot of money is put into Second Life by way of purchasing Lindens.
This is the end of the first part of the survey analysis. I am sure I could do more but my head already hurts. 🙂 We continue with the next part which will address the other questions from the survey. Stay tuned for that! In the mean time, leave a comment about the information we have addresses so far. Let me know what conclusions you draw from this data and what other questions that come to mind.