back channel: An estimated 800,000 users are active on a monthly basis, according to Second Life parent company Linden Lab. That’s tiny compared to the 1.86 billion users who are active on Facebook each month. by Kristen French
'Yet some communities have quietly continued to thrive in the virtual world. One of these is the disability community, a sundry group whose members include people who are blind or deaf, people with emotional handicaps such as autism and PTSD, and people with conditions that limit their mobility, such as Parkinson’s, cerebral palsy, and multiple sclerosis. There are no official tallies of their numbers, but Wagner James Au, who has written extensively about Second Life, estimates they may account for roughly 20 percent of users. Some active members estimate the number higher — at as much as 50 percent.
'Unlike traditional gaming, Second Life is governed by few rules. Residents can customize their avatars in an infinite number of ways. They can fly and teleport as easily as they can walk, run, and jump. They can build bespoke homes and islands almost from scratch, and buy and sell wares in virtual stores — from biker gear to bird song to the ability to swim like a mermaid. They can marry a Second Life lover, take a rocket to the moon, or simply tuck themselves into bed at night.'