Virtual worlds, new spaces of socialization or the smell of potential profits?

Posted on 06/23/2010

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Real life is not enough! I want to escape this mean world! I want to break free! Am I becoming crazy? No. Just trying to figure out why will virtual socializing world have more and more success, what will make more and more teens subscribe to a virtual world. Last month at MetaMeets conference for developers and users of virtual environments in Dublin, Ireland, conference promoters claimed in a press release that 80 percent of Internet users will be involved in “virtual lives” by the end of 2011 (based on a study by Gartner). Quite a lot, don’t you think? Even if we can be skeptical about the number of people involved in virtual lives, let’s see why are entrepreneurs betting on this trend. There is a growing fascination for 3D virtual world, said the promoters of MetaMeets and 3D technological developments are attracting more people to virtual world. Are three-dimensional virtual worlds are the next frontier for social networks? Let’s try to imagine the scene, my avatar – my virtual me – will be able to go and watch a movie with my friends’ avatars, they will listen to music and have a coffee. That’s not imagination, millions of residents on dozens of virtual worlds are already doing so. « Virtual worlds are still in the very early stages, » says Christopher Klaus, creator of Kaneva. He compared the actual virtual life context to the beginning of MP3. « Our goal is to combine the virtual world with social networking and video-gaming. » For Klaus, Kaneva encourages residents to create avatars that are online versions of their real identities, linking photos of themselves and lists of their hobbies. Here is an important difference with Secondlife where usually people have an alternative identity. Secondlife… haven’t we heard lately that Linden Lab has cut 30% of its workforce? It is true that the number of residents is declining and the company is looking for a new breath but behind the layoffs we have to keep in mind that Second Life residents, number more than 1 million logged in at any given time. Kaneva has about 2 million members in June 2010. Both Second Life and Kaneva have the same business model. They are free to join. They get revenue by selling play money, leasing virtual land and, in the case of Kaneva, by promoting real-world commerce. Will Secondlife meet again its past success? Will Kaneva be able to create a great community (it didn’t federate great enthusiasm for the moment)? Will virtual socializing world be just a trend? Will it be profitable? There are a lot of unanswered questions. Virtual 3D socializing world is flooding with speculation but it is also a source of expectation for developers.

Virtual worlds in the fields of business and education are breeding expectations too. For example Vrising is collaborating with the National Digital Research Center (NDRC) & Trinity College to produce a virtual world learning management system. Extreme Reality Inc. has worked with Agile Dimensions LLC which is specialized in 3d immersive teaching and collaboration. On June 21st Extreme Inc. announced its business collaboration with Avination, the new OpenSim Combat Role Play virtual world.

Virtual worlds can combine many levels : gaming experience, education, business and virtual socialization, therefore we can understand that people say that virtual worlds worth a bet. Jonathan Himoff, founder and CEO of virtual world portal Rezzable, expects to see more 3D interactions on the Web involving information, people, and content of all kinds.

Check these articles:

Gamesindustry.biz/articles/linden-lab-slashes-workforce-by-30-percent

Metameets2010.com/press-release/

Extreme-Reality/press release

Check their websites:

Secondlife

Kaneva

Vrising

Extreme Reality

Agile Dimensions

Avination

Rezzable

Want to know more about:

Linden Lab was founded in 1999 by Philip Rosedale to create a revolutionary new form of shared experience, where individuals jointly inhabit a 3D landscape and build the world around them. Today this experience, known as the Second Life® world.

Kaneva was founded by Christopher Klaus. Instead of a virtual, non-realistic world, Kaneva is an extensible world that brings together the best of life and enables online connections and encourages and enhances real friendships.

Vrising is a virtual worlds development agency dedicated to designing and building experiences in virtual worlds. It works with commercial and corporate clients to enhance their digital strategies, creating new opportunities for delivering content.

Extreme Reality, Inc founded in 2007, it focuses on innovating and developing browser, desktop and mobile based virtual reality systems for business, education and community. It is specialized in strategy, marketing, technology and creative services such as simulation builds, 3D modelling, texturing, animations and social networking.

Agile Dimensions, LLC was founded by Bill Krebs to serve trainers, consultants, and teams. It specializes in 3D immersive teaching and helping others take advantage of this new medium.

Rezzable creates and manage engaging virtual world brands and destinations, including the well-known Greenies, Crimson Shadow, Carnival of Doom, Virtual Surfline, Black Swan, Tunnel of Light and many more. Each day, the company hosts thousands of visitors for live DJ music, clubs, art shows, games, contests, shopping and content creation.

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