Armi’s Hierarchy of Avatar Needs

Sunday, July 5, 2009 Sunday, July 05, 2009

Recently I’ve been puzzling over fluctuating revenues at my shop. One theory I had suggested recent decreases in revenue might have something to do with the unemployment rate. However, commenters provided many alternate theories, one of which involved avatars buying other types of products before “my” type of products.

I thought about this at length and realized that this could in fact be the case. The more I thought about it, I increasingly saw a connection to the classic “Maslow’s Hierarchy”. What’s that, you ask?

According to the Business Dictionary, Maslow’s Hierarchy is a

Motivation theory which suggests five interdependent levels of basic human needs (motivators) that must be satisfied in a strict sequence starting with the lowest level.

And it’s typically represented as a pyramid, where individuals must satisfy their needs at the lower levels before they can seek the benefits of higher levels.

As you can see, humans likely have to be able to breath and eat before they’ll worry about making friends and producing sculptures.

It seems to me that there might be a corresponding pyramid suitable for avatars. I suspect some of the layers might be similar to Maslow’s, but there are some differences, especially at the bottom of the pyramid.
If this pyramid of “Armi’s Hierarchy of Avatar Needs” is true, then it may explain some shopping habits. After first ensuring the basics (Physical, Safety and Belonging), avatars tend to shop for fashions, skins and shapes before seeking gadgets, building supplies and particle effects. Thus, in difficult times one might expect a store such as mine to suffer more than say, a famous skin shop.

The pyramid might also explain why people get frantically upset when the grid or PC crashes, and why teleport errors generate so many complaints. The lower levels of needs are more fundamental to avatar existence.

There’s one simple reason avatars may act according to a pyramid of needs: behind every avatar is none other than a real, breathing human. Most of the time, anyway.


Raul Crimson said...

I think you made a great conversion of the Maslow's pyramid... even i think Self-Actualization is not only related with your surroundings, actually i think is pretty the same as the "original" pyramid.

R. said...

Interesting... so instead of raw economic stats from LL, it would be more useful to have those figures broken down somehow based on what level of need they need fulfilled?

Maybe an interesting experiment would be to put together a mall with items from all levels, or at least landmarks for all levels, and see which get clicked on the most.

Or, perhaps, access the raw search data to see how those searches fir the seeking of needs on both SL and RL levels.


PS: Of course, I need to parody it:

Peter Stindberg said...

Your products are pretty niche - probably among the most niche products in SL. Also a certain fraction of your products might also be seen as annoying or even causing lag.

From a marketing perspective I would have some suggestions:

1) Diversify your building component products: fog, rain, gasburners - everything other builders (or landscapers) could use as adding value to their builds. Market them specifically to builders, probably even raise prices. Also consider to offer copy/transfer products - something the pro-animation-creators adopted long time ago.

2) Educate the potential customers for the fun products on how particles work, and in what ways they do - and do not - contribute to the various types of lag. Become more visible in the fashion area, since in a way the fun-particle effects can be seen as fashion accesories. Become the public authority on particle effects.

3) Everytime I come to your place it lags like hell, and while I know this is NOT because of the particles, many people will see their prejudices confirmed. You have too many textures to load at once, and the very open nature of the shop does not properly occlude. Rebuild your shop so that you have many smaller, occluded rooms. You can even achieve this with enclosed skyboxes. Make a welcome area with easy access to the various rooms, but keep the rooms closed so the viewer has reduced rendering load.

4) Publicity, publicity, publicity. Be visible. Not only on your own blog. Send review copies. Get involved in publicly visible activites. Build authority.

5) Output rate. Try to get at least one new product out a month, better two. Make sure they get publicity too. You need to be permanently "on the radar".

ArminasX said...

@peter - great tips and good analysis, all true. Now, if I can only find the time to do all that stuff!

Grace McDunnough™ said...

We had an interesting round table discussion about this in 2006 as part of the Kuurian Expedition; Gwyn hosted this one with me.

Unfortunately Signpost's archive is empty, but here's the cached copy of the chat log.

Anonymous said...

Before you went in to draw your little pretty diagram, you should have defined the needs of an avatar. If you had done that, you would have realized that avatars do not have needs. Second Life is a complex social environment and Maslow's theory was written 60 years ago when the world was a far simpler place and virtual worlds did not exist. The use of Maslow' theory to analyze second life is like examining microbes with a magnifying glass.

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