Well, it’s official: celebrity scents are over. As of tonight, you’re nobody if you don’t have your own 3D virtual world. Just ask supermodel-cum-talk show host Tyra Banks, who opened Tyra’s Virtual Studio this evening with a grammy party. “The studio is a free virtual world where you can listen to music, chat with your friends, get insider info about what’s happening at the Tyra Banks Show and just hang out,” according to the site. But you knew that already. In Tyra’s Virtual Studio, however (which is available for both Windows and Mac), “Your avatar can drop it like it’s hot.” Whew. We knew there was some added value here.
The celeb’s VW is a Warner Bros. property built on technology developed by Doppelganger Inc., the folks who brought you the PussyCat Dolls Music Lounge. That means it comes complete with Doppelganger’s cool cell-shaded avatars. The Doppelgangers are also behind the music-based world that MTV is planning.
Look for this trend to continue. Many entertainment and media companies have been satisfied to launch their own areas within the larger world of Second Life, but many other big players want standalone worlds such as MTV’s Virtual Laguna Beach (built on There.com technology). And for the quick and dirty celeb-branded world, Doppelganger’s solution may be near ideal, if your production or marketing crew that doesn’t want to do too much of the heavy lifting.
Either way, it’s looking like what we’ve been saying here for a while is starting to happen: The kids who have pushed MySpace to the limit are looking for the next cool place to hang out on the Internet, and they’re finding it in easy-entry 3D virtual worlds like Tyra’s. I haven’t been in yet since I just got home and wanted to get the news up, but Glitchy tells me the place is packed. Why? Because it does the one thing Web pages can’t: It provides “presence,” the ability to interact in three dimensions with the people around you. (The ability to change your outfit on the fly ain’t bad, either.) It’s a richer mode of communication than chat, email or IM, and the generation that already takes those mediums for granted want more. 3D worlds give them that. It’s not a quirk of technology, it’s a cultural shift in the way we interact and communicate with each other.
So what’s next? Paris World? As long as there aren’t any Britney avatars to get in trouble with the paparazzi, we’ll be happy.