Use code MWVIP to get $200 off an all-access pass to Engage! Expo, happening September 23-24 at the San Jose Convention Center. Looks like a nice line-up, including:
* New keynotes include: Jeremy Liew, Managing Director, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Mark Pincus, Founder and CEO, Zynga.
* 125 speakers covering the subjects of virtual goods, social media, digital law and 3D learning.
* Best Buy’s innovative social media strategy keynote: With Best Buy’s Gina Debogovich and Jason Parker.
* Super Social media case studies from leading brands: Walmart, Best Buy, Intel, H&R Block, and Kodak
* Virtual goods case studies from Playdom, Six Degrees Games, MyYearbook. Plus hear from Habbo, Zynga, Social Gaming Network, Playfish and more.
* The venture capital point of view: Hear from Lightspeed, Rustic Canyon Partners, SVB Capital and Venture Capital-Private Equity Roundtable
* Get the latest market research from from Strategy Analytics, Interpret, Pearl Research, Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, VGMarket and ThinkBalm
* Get your hands dirty on the expo floor with demos of the top new technologies.
* Understand the critical legal ramifications pertaining to games, social media and virtual goods
* Learn how to use the latest 3D technologies within your enterprise to save money now.
If you’re planning on heading to New York for the Engage! Expo (formerly the Virtual Worlds Conference) on March 10-11 — as I am — you can still get an early-registration discount today. (Prices go up tomorrow.) My co-conspirator Jerry Paffendorf will be jowboning there, and it looks like I’ll be moderating a panel as well. The conference has undergone a name change, but it’s still one of the most interesting gatherings of metaverse-related personages going. Join us.
(And don’t be surprised if you see more 3pointD posts here in the near future. I know, it’s been a while and there’s a lot of cleanup to do, but I think things may be picking up speed, if not here then in a related location. Stay tuned.)
I’ll be out in California for a few days in mid-February, mostly for the Metaverse U. event that’s being held at Stanford. This is a spin-off or evolution of the State of Play conferences that originated at New York Law School, I believe. Should be some very interesting brains there, all trained on virtual worlds and what goes on within them. Details after the jump. Official announcement below:
ANNOUNCEMENT: Metaverse U Conference at Stanford University
* WHERE: Annenberg Auditorium, Stanford University
* WHEN: Saturday the 16th and Sunday the 17th of February 2008
* WEBSITE: http://metaverseu.stanford.edu Continue reading
Edward Castronova’s MMO, Arden, is being released today. It’s available to play, download, and modify as you wish.
His new book, Exodus to the Virtual World, is also now available. I’ve been flipping through a copy, and it looks pretty interesting. Whether or not you agree with the thesis — that game mechanics are going to increasingly influence real-world governance and society — there’s a lot of fascinating research packed into its pages.
Arden is made possible through the generosity of the MacArthur Foundation. Read more on both at Terra Nova.
Mike Liebhold was one of the participants at the original Metaverse Roadmap Summit last year, which produced the Metaverse Roadmap Overview, and I remember him as one of the more forward-thinking and impressive presenters. Now, he’s presenting tomorrow at the first Metaverse Meetup at Stanford University, talking about “3D data for real world virtual worlds.” Definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area — and you can also attend via the virtual world of Second Life Details below, from organizer Henrik Bennetsen: Continue reading
It seems like forever since we first started working on it, but at last our book about the Second Life Herald — and about the metaverse in general — is being published (in a matter of days), and we’re planning a party to celebrate the fact. In case you missed it, I’ve written a book with philosophy professor and Herald founder Peter Ludlow. It features a colorful cast of virtual characters from places like Second Life, The Sims Online, World of Warcraft, EVE Online and various other places, as well as numerous flesh-and-blood people. Titled The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid That Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, the book not only chronicles the rise of the virtual world’s first and favorite tabloid, but looks as well at the increasingly important role that virtual spaces play in our everyday lives, and articulates the issues we’ll be facing as the societies now emerging in the metaverse grow in reach and influence.
It should be in bookstores momentarily, and you can already buy the thing online, but maybe the most fun way to acquire a copy would be to buy one at the party we’re having in Brooklyn on November 3. Continue reading
Millions of Us, led by Reuben Steiger, has drawn an investment from global advertising and marketing agency Omnicom. Press release below. 3pointD hears the investment values MoU at quite a healthy number. Continue reading
That’s Ludlow as in Peter Ludlow, who founded the Second Life Herald, and Wallace as in myself, who occasionally does some work over there. We’re interviewed on Episode #2 of the MIT Press podcast, which you can listen to via this link. (You have to listen through some advertisements for the podcast itself at the beginning, for some reason.) MIT, of course, is who’s publishing our book, The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid That Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse, which is due out any minute now — or anyway, at the end of the month. We talk about Second Life, of course, issues of governance in the metaverse, the future of metaversal technologies, and a few other things. I think we were spared any annoying furry sex questions in this one, which was nice. Check it out.
I’m off Monday for the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference in San Jose next week (online registration ends tomorrow! see below), where I’ll be moderating what should be a very cool roundtable on the future of virtual world platforms. We go on Thursday at 11am, on the strategy track, with a very flattering title: Visionary Panel: Where the Platforms Are Going Next. The panel features Christopher Klaus, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kaneva; Raph Koster, President, Areae, Inc.; Michael Wilson, CEO, Makena Technologies; Hui Xu, Founder & CEO, HiPiHi Co., Ltd; Stephen Lawler, General Manager of Virtual Earth, Microsoft; and Corey Bridges, Co-founder, Executive Producer, & Marketing Director, The Multiverse Network. Should be some pretty fascinating talk flying around about what’s going to happen in the near and far terms, and where all of the things these people and others are working on are headed.
As noted, online registration for the conference (of which 3pointD is a media sponsor) ends tomorrow, Friday, October 5. The online reg price is only $795. After Friday, you’ll be able to register onsite at the show beginning 7:30am, Wednesday, October 10, for $995. Reg now and save your cash for drinks with Corey!
Turner Broadcasting System has signed a one-year deal to use Kaneva to build out virtual-world extensions of its entertainment properties, according to a press release. “The agreement will grant Turner access to Kanevaâ€™s technology and tools to create and use Web communities and Virtual Spaces on the Kaneva Web site and in the virtual world of Kaneva. Each Turner Web Community and corresponding Virtual World space inside Kaneva will be enabled with embedded video players for video streaming of select Turner network content. One of the foregoing Turner Virtual Spaces will be an external space that will link to the other Turner Virtual Spaces, as well as other areas within Kanevaâ€™s Virtual World.”
It’s interesting to see a year-long deal being signed in this way. I’m not sure that’s been done before. Most of the projects we’ve seen so far has been one-offs, or involve the purchase and/or licensing of software.
Full release below: Continue reading
Michael Arrington is reporting that the AOL Games Group may be getting ready to launch a social network for World of Warcraft players, since the company owns wow.com. Could AOL’s reach make wow.com a category-killer? Sean Fanning’s Rupture, another WoW socnet, hasn’t particularly taken off, as I understand it. New entrants to virtual world social networking include Koinup as well. More on the subsector at GigaOm.
Is Google building a Second Life-like virtual world? Google-watching blog Google Operating System thinks they might be, given that Arizona State University students will have the opportunity to test a new product that sounds very virtual worldy and that also sounds like it will require a Gmail account. Apparently to be “publicly launched later this year,” the product is developed by “a major Internet company” and, says Google Op, “there are hints that the application is related to social networking, 3D modeling and video games.” Want to know for sure? Enroll at ASU. That’s the only way to get in. You know Michael Arrington (from whom I first read this) has his spies crawling the campus already.
Anshe Chung Studios, which produces digital content and services for virtual worlds like Second Life, IMVU and others, has drawn a round of funding from New York venture capital firm Gladwyne Partners, who were early investors in the Electric Sheep Company. Sources at Gladwyne tell 3pointD the investment closed today, but wouldn’t reveal the amount. Gladwyne should be quite happy to have found another play in the virtual world sector; they’ve been looking very closely at the space since hopping into the Sheep pen. From the sound of things, they’re continuing the due diligence they’ve been doing throughout the space for the last year or two, so look for more, although it remains to be seen how soon. And congratulations to Anshe (or rather, to the husband-and-wife team behind the avatar), who has built an unparalleled “native” virtual-world brand over the last four years or so. Such companies should be under pressure from bigger, more established production houses, but none seem to have made significant in-roads. Anshe also has the advantage of having outsourced much of her studio’s work to employees in her native China, which may have made a difference to Gladwyne. In any case, it’s interesting to see just how far you can go with amateur content-creation, which is where Anshe started. Nice to see Gladwyne concentrating so heavily on the space, as well. We look forward to more.
GoPets CEO Erik Bethke is set to break new ground in the area of virtual worlds by proposing to turn his service’s end-user licensing agreement and terms of service document into a plainly written bill of rights. [Via GamePolitics.com, pointed out by Nate Combs.] In a recent LiveJournal post, he offers $5,000 for help in drafting the document, but sets out 16 points for discussion, starting off, rather remarkably, with a right of due procedss and habeas corpus. If Bethke can get all this in place, it will represent a great step forward for virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games. In his post, he mentions Raph Koster’s Declaration of the Right of Avatars, which <pimp alert>Peter and I reference in our book.</pimp alert> There isn’t a terms of service doc out there that comes anywhere close to this. But if virtual spaces are to have a real, robust future, they’re going to need much better governance structures than they enjoy at present. Bethke’s new style of ToS, if it can be implemented, would be a big first step down that road.
While many residents of the virtual world of Second Life have taken themselves off on a short break to Chicago for Second Life Community Convention (SLCC) 2007, I have had to settle for a virtual holiday instead. Courtesy of German travel company, TUI, I have been rafting, scuba-diving, and exploring wrecked pirate ships at their virtual beach resort in Second Life.
The TUI AG group is perhaps the largest holidy tour operator in the world, and includes brands such as Thomson in the UK. This Second Life presence, spanning 4 islands, is intended to advertise their German tour operations. These are classed under 3 major “sub-brands” which are reflected in the names of their islands. TUI SchÃ¶ne Ferien (classic seaside holidays), TUI Weltentdecker (city breaks and circular trips) and TUI Premium (high-end holidays). Continue reading
It’s South by Southwest season again, or at least the run-up to it. For the last two years I’ve headed to Austin for the excellent South by Southwest Interactive festival, a fun week of geeks and great conversations that takes place each spring in one of the greatest small cities in America. The process of choosing who gets to take the stage there, though, starts early. Hugh Forest, who runs the place, has just posted this year’s SXSW Panel-Picker, the mechanism by which a fair portion of the panels are chosen. I’ve proposed two, which I’m going to insist you all go vote on forthwith. Here are the titles, links and descriptions:
â€¢ Presence: Building the Social Web
“Despite social networking, the Web remains a lonely place: a billion people browse it, each one alone. This session examines efforts to make the Web a more social medium by bringing “presence” online. Help us imagine a Web that works less like a library and more like a multiplayer game.”
â€¢ Kicking Virtual Ass and Taking Avatar Names
“What is it like to run the virtual world’s most notorious tabloid? Where do you draw the line between good taste and bad, between information and sensation, between virtual and real — if such a line exists? Explore the role of a very free press in the evolution of online worlds. Dual presentation with [Second Life Herald founder] Peter Ludlow.” Continue reading
The fifth annual State of Play conference on legal and social issues in virtual worlds is under way this week in Singapore. I had to cancel my trip out there, which is a shame, since SoP is consistently one of the most interesting gatherings of VW thinkers. Jerry Paffendorf is there, though, and reports that the chin-wagging is already gathering steam. Other reports form Singapore have the local government excited over the metaverse roadmap that was recently release (an effort Jerry led and I was one of the contributors to). I’m not sure, but I think the Singaporese government helped fund the conference as well. That’s some pretty future-forward thinking. Wish I was there.
CMP Technology has become “the first global media company to be certified by Linden Labs as a full-service content developer in Second Life,” according to a press release. (Though maybe Linden Lab should be careful that their certified devs at least spell the name of the company correctly.) CMP, of course, runs the annual Game Developers Conference and the Austin Game Developers Conference (which leans more toward MMOs and virtual worlds), as well as a number of Web 2.0 and other tech events, and publishes sites like Gamasutra and publications like Game Developer and Information Week. CMP is now bringing the virtual world into its media offerings: “CMP’s metaverse division will work with customers to create unique builds and events that promote deep engagement and nurture community. The division will integrate Second Life and the web to reach global markets while leveraging CMP’s trusted brands to acquire highly-qualified audiences and bring them inworld.”
Does this spell the beginning of stiffer competition for outfits like the Electric Sheep Company, Millions of Us, Rivers Run Red and others? It has seemed to be only a matter of time before big media companies got into the metaverse services space in a big way; CMP’s entry may be the early sign of a coming wave. Other firms with global reach (Edelman, for one) are already operating in Second Life (despite the “first” claim in CMP’s release), and it seems logical that such firms would expand their operations to produce campaigns for this new medium. It will be interesting to see how the “native” firms react to increased competition. I’m still waiting for a big media company to absorb one of the main metaverse services companies. If the market holds up (a big if, but not huge one), I imagine it’s only a matter of time before that happens. CMP’s entry into the space could well accelerate the process.
It looks like MindArk, the company behind Entropia Universe (whose virtual currency is pegged and freely tradeable at 10 to the U.S. dollar), is getting in on the Washington lobbying act. Congress has been looking at issues of taxation related to virtual worlds since at least last October, and the Joint Economic Committee is long overdue with a promised report. (Or did I miss this?) This week, it seems, they’ll hear from Marco Behrmann, MindArk’s CIO, who is in Washington to speak to the IRS as well, according to this post on the RCE Universe forums. [Via RCEUniverse’s Nate Randall.] I’ll be interested to see where this all ends up, of course, but the most sensible take I’ve heard on this issue comes from Bryan Camp of Texas Tech University, who noted last year that, for the most part, the legal issues are settled, it’s just a matter of figuring out (or deciding) where virtual worlds fall within them. There’s probably slightly more to it than that, but not much. For my money, a more interesting issue is the related one of whether these environments can be ruled to be public places (like some shopping malls) and the implications of such a ruling for governing them. <shameless plug>You can read more about that kind of thing in our book when it’s published at the end of October.</shameless plug>
For those of you who are headed out to San Jose to join us at the Virtual Worlds Fall Conference and Expo, you can get 10 percent off your registration fees just because you’re reading 3pointD! That’s a savings of $60 to $100, depending on when you take advantage of this. Details after the jump. Continue reading
God bless IBM. Of all the big bad corporations doing business in the virtual world of Second Life, these guys — and, on an individual basis, the company’s employees — are near the top of the “most creative and ambitious” league table (mostly, I suspect, because they can afford to be). The latest: an IBM employee with his own private island in Second Life has had some coins minted that are each worth one Linden dollar. That’s right, you can now hold the Linden dollar in your hand and actually spend it — if, that is, you’re on »Tender Island«, which has been owned by IBMer David van Gent since March.
The coins come complete with an “SL” mintmark, and are “accepted as legal currency on Tender Island.” Before you get your knickers in a twist over who’s allowed to mint coins denominated in a particular currency, keep in mind that in the U.S., at least, creating your own tender is perfectly acceptable — you can print all the money you want (as long as you’re not counterfeiting dollars), it’s just a matter of whether you can get anyone to accept it. Linden Lab, of course, is not a government. But their rhetoric (“I’m not building a game, I’m building a country“) indicates there shouldn’t be anything objectionable in Tender Island coins. Continue reading
I hadn’t heard of Mappa Novus until someone dropped it in the comments here. The Mappa crew is doing interesting work creating maps of the virtual world of Second Life that seem to be mashed up with the Google Maps interface, and overlaid with data layers about population, land sales, etc. On top of that, they’ve layered some advanced edition maps that you can subscribe to for $7.95 a month or $19.95 for three months, which give extra data about land sales. The whole deal seems to be able the real estate business, as there’s also a land search tool available. They also have printed maps available for sale. Continue reading
With the success of Nicktropolis and even more so WebKinz, Club Penguin, and things like GoPets and more (Animal Crossing, anyone?), virtual worlds for kids have become the hot ticket this summer. Two new ones are on their way: one an educational 3D theme park, the other a cool 2D “world” designed in part by Aardman Animations, the outfit behind the excellent Wallace & Gromit cartoons.
The Aardman offering is known as WebbliWorld, and is populated by all kinds of avatars and features beginning for the most part with W- or Webbli-. That’s WebbliWallace above, the avatar I created by sticking together the bits and pieces on offer. Not really an immersive multiuser world, as far as I can tell, WebbliWorld instead offers a range of Flash games and activities designed to educate young ‘uns and inspire them to take on real-world activities like sports or mucking about in the garden. You can view other Webblis profiles, but communication seems limited. Continue reading
Groups are a standard feature of the virtual world of Second Life. They provide communities for avatars with mutual interests, and can range across every interest or specialization known to avatar-kind. Within Second Life an avatar can be a member of up to 25 groups. Sometimes they are used to restrict access to specific areas, but more often they are used as a communication medium, as it is possible to send messages to all (online) members simultaneously.
A couple of months ago a new group was founded by Nick Wilson (aka 57 Miles in Second Life) of the popular Metaversed blog. It was called “Things To Do” and was based on the simple premise that Second Life is a social environment in which it is enjoyable to share activities with people, and make friends. Things To Do has since grown into both a popular group and an effective communications channel. But it also illustrates some of the limitations of social tools in Second Life, and raises some interesting questions about how to reach and manage large communities of people within the virtual world. Continue reading
The Guardian had not a bad story the other day about the potential for virtual worlds, focusing mostly on business uses. In contrast to some other recent takes on this in the press, the Guardian story seems more balanced to me, acknowledging that things are still at an early stage, and also tipping their hat to a wider universe of worlds than only Second Life. The article also calls out one of my favorite subjects: the convergence of virtual worlds and Web 2.0, which is still at a nascent stage. Judging from who’s quoted there, the article seems to have been inspired in part by the upcoming Virtual Worlds Forum Europe (more on that here), which takes place October 23-26 in London. I’ve been hoping to make that, but it’s looking less and less likely. There’s an excellent roster of speakers that are going to be on hand, though, so if you’re in the area, go for it.
Check out the mobile wizardry of Second Life resident Wrestling Hulka, who has a limited version of the virtual world running on the Nokia n800. [Via Metaversed, from whom I’ve stolen the pic above.] Cool stuff. Recall there was another mobile client for Second Life that was developed earlier in the year. 3pointD hears that others may be working on similar apps — although I’m not sure I need an “immersive” experience on my mobile device. What I definitely would like, however, is the ability to interact with people who are in the virtual world via my phone and functions like instant messaging, my virtual currency account, etc. That’s far more useful, but is apparently less sexy and more difficult, since I don’t hear as much about people developing these kinds of functions. We can only hope.
I won’t be able to make this, unfortunately, but what sounds a really interesting panel will be held this Thursday, July 19, in the virtual world of Second Life. Kicking off at 6pm SL time (9pm Eastern), the panel will be a “Virtual Roundtable,” discussing “what drives the virtual human connection.” Moderated by Giff Constable of the Electric Sheep Company, it features some great speakers: Susan Wu of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Charles River Ventures, Beth Coleman of MIT, Robin Harper of Linden Lab, and Chris Carella, creative director of the Electric Sheep Company. Continue reading
I couldn’t get this to work yesterday and I still can’t today, but one of the Electric Sheep got it working and it sounds fascinating. Someone (said to be a teen) has created an Ajax-based client for the virtual world of Second Life. Is this the start of browser-based SL use? That’s a potentially revolutionary idea. From the original post describing AjaxLife:
Due to some combination of boredom, wanting to talk to people in SL, and inspiration from a vague memory of something Interfect Sonic did, I decided to start work on an AJAX based SL client.
Itâ€™s still under heavy development, but the result so far is an application/page/site called AjaxLife.
It now works on the MG (I think!)
* Basic map
* Accepting/declining teleport offers
* Local chat, instant messages (partially — you canâ€™t start them except with online friends)
* Inventory received notifications
* Friend on/offline notifications
* Balance change notifications, etc.
It also correctly logs you in and out, and notifies you if you were disconnected for any reason.
Let us know if you get it going. [Via Vint Falken.]
Virtual worlds researcher Aleks Krotoski, who’s been working on a Ph.D. about social networks in virtual worlds, has posted about some of her findings, which are available in the form of an excellent video presentation you can find at the Subject Centre for Information and Computer Sciences (scroll down). You can also download the accompanying PowerPoint presentation. Aleks is doing very interesting research measuring the ties among people in the virtual world of Second Life, and is farming results from an opt-in survey she made of 10,000 SL residents. What’s to be learned here? According to Aleks, you can discern several things: Continue reading
The latest company to catch on to the fact that computer games provide compelling feedback mechanisms is Amazon.com, which recently launched its Askville service, where users earn virtual currency for answering other users’ questions. A lot of attention has been paid to the accompanying Questville, which, according to the Askville FAQ (at Experience Points, Levels and Quest Coins, question #7) is described as “a new website” where “you will be able to use your Quest Coins to participate in exciting new adventures and other cool things!” Most everyone takes this to be a virtual world, although I’m not sure where that idea originated. Regardless, what’s more interesting to me is the fact that Amazon is leveraging game mechanics to expand into another new area of service, i.e., what’s essentially a human-powered knowledge search. Askville rewards answerers with Quest Coins that will be useful in Questville. Of course, you get extra coins for embedding Amazon widgets in your answers. What’s really going on here is a kind of human-powered advertising program akin to AdWords, but with only one advertisers, so that people embed Amazon ads in what are essentially search results, rather than using an algorithm. The question is whether Questville will be a compelling enough experience to keep real experts coming back to answer questions in Askville and earn more Questville coins. And is it actually a virtual world? Interestingly, RCE Universe‘s Nate Randall asked Askville the question, What is Questville?, but the entry has received only four answers so far, and it doesn’t seem they’ll be available to view for another day or so. Stay tuned.
There’s yet another virtual worlds conference that’s just popped up in my email. This one’s Serious Virtual Worlds, September 13-14, in Coventry, England, of all places (it’s being put on by something called the Serious Games Institute and sponsored in part by Coventry University). It’s bloody expensive, as our British friends would say, but only a few of the speakers have been announced as yet. That combined with its location in what’s vaguely equivalent to the Research Triangle of the UK is another sure sign of the (pre?) maturation the virtual worlds sector. Any industry that can fill a conference center with guys in suits has certainly arrived. All that said, there’s the potential for this to be a vaguely interesting couple of days. If it can spread the word to wider quarters then it’s done its job. The press release for this one too leads off with the word “first,” however. Read it after the jump. Continue reading
Blogger and Second Life resident Tao Takashi has posted a good review of a new Java-based virtual world from Germany called StageSpace, which is still in alpha. While there are some technical problems to overcome in this area, these kinds of worlds could become very popular in future. Why? Tao writes: “The main idea is to manage individual branded virtual worlds for their clients.” Consider the fact that no Hollywood movie gets released these days without a Web site — it’s not a far leap to imagine the day when no movie gets released without a browser-based virtual world. Tao also points out a related problem that will have to be solved: “If more and more seperated virtual worlds come up it will get very annoying to join them. Itâ€™s not like Second Life where the next community might be just a teleport away. And multiple accounts are already a problem with all those web2.0 apps these days. Editing your profile, finding and inviting all your friends again will be joined by customizing your avatar as nobody wants to look like a noob. This also might get costly I assume.” Indeed.