The Virtual Worlds Blitz is Coming

March 03 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Economics   Year: 2012   Rating: 11

Chris Sherman over at Virtual World News noted yesterday that there are so many virtual world start-ups in stealth-mode that he’s lost count.

“They range in focus from virtual goods and economies to lifelogging to 2d and 3d virtual world destinations to platforms and tools companies and more,” points out Sherman, the producer of the steadily growing Virtual Worlds conference series.

Not only are myriad start-ups getting into the virtual frenzy, so are corporate giants like Google.

All this activity nicely reinforces a DFC estimate that virtual world revenues will reach 6 billion $ annually by 2012.

Even with the slowing growth of Second Life, it’s easy to imagine that between Spore, MetaPlace, Multiverse, Club Penguin, Google, Microsoft, Sony and all of the little guys, it won’t be all that hard to hit that 6 billion $ target.

Check back tomorrow for an in-depth interview with Jerry Paffendorf, co-founder of Wello Horld, one of the stealth start-ups mentioned by Sherman.

What will be the biggest virtual world in 2010?

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E-Sheep's Verbeck: "Virtual worlds won't save humanity... at least on their own."

March 11 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 11

As CEO and founder of the largest company in the world dedicated to “designing experiences and delivering add-on software for 3D virtual worlds”, The Electric Sheep Company (ESC), Sibley Verbeck has garnered big props for ground-breaking projects such as MTV’s Virtual Laguna Beach and CSI: NY Virtual Experience.

This front-row seat to the early evolution and spread of virtual worlds has afforded Verbeck a unique perspective on what exactly is going on, how fast it’s happening, and how best to navigate the bubbles of economic disruption. Coupled with a matter-of-fact demeanor and willingness to share insights, that makes Verbeck a metaversal authority with no shortage of solid advice to impart to anyone interested in the space.

He’ll be voicing his thoughts on the topic during his April 3rd keynote address at the rapidly growing Virtual Worlds 2008 conference in NY, but if you can’t wait or make the trip, then you’ll be glad to know that Future Blogger has scored this full-length interview with the shepherd himself, which we’ve also condensed into the following Q&A most related to the future of virtual worlds.

M: How do you see immersive 3D environments evolving over the near-term?

SV: While much “virtual world” energy is being put into 2D (and so-called 2.5D) properties, 3D immersive environments are going to continue to gradually accelerate in their technological progress and breadth of applications. In particular, we’ll start seeing usable 3D spaces more commonly be embedded on the Web for easier access and significant usability improvements. Over the next two to three years, we’ll see open source technologies used much more frequently that allow anyone to host a compatible 3D environment on a server and control access thereto.

While corporate collaboration will continue to be explored as a use-case, the real drivers of adoption and technology development will be entertainment and consumer commerce. Also in that time frame we’ll see it just begin to become more common to use such virtual worlds through the living room / HDTV’s, either through consoles or otherwise.

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Second Life on the Hill: U.S. House Members Seek to Understand Virtual Worlds

April 01 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 10 Hot

The following is a summary of the key moments that transpired during the U.S. House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet hearing on Virtual Worlds held April 1, 2008. This marked the first ever simulcast of a Congressional hearing into a virtual world – a truly historic moment.

Spanning the positive uses of virtual worlds (entrepreneurial, non-profit, educational, and other purposes) as well as the security implications (terrorism, child protection, privacy and illegal activities) the first-of-its-kind hearing finally came to a close at 11:15 AM this morning after nearly two full hours of position statements and riveting Q&A.

Subcommittee members’ opening speeches covered general statistics, implications, applications and potential futures of virtual worlds. Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey of Massachusetts (pictured second) noted that virtual worlds often permit people to do things that are often impossible in real life, thus empowering individuals and that virtual worlds are at the cutting edge of web 2.0 applications. As per the future of virtual worlds, the Chairman said that virtual worlds are steadily becoming more commonplace and therefore policymakers will have to continue to monitor them as they grow further while upgrading national infrastructure to foster the positive utilities of such worlds.

Congressman Stearns of Florida (pictured third) cited an interesting statistic in his opening remarks, that 40% of men and 50% of women see virtual friends as equal or better than their real-life friends. He found this a bit unsettling, and elucidated his concern for sexual predators and con-men inevitably finding their way into virtual worlds, as they did the internet.

Congresswoman Harman of California echoed many of the same positive implications of virtual worlds, but seemed most concerned with the use of virtual worlds by Islamic militants, noting that a “clear-eyed understanding is essential” in helping fight this new wave of “transient terrorism.”


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'Make Your Own' Augmented Reality Media Comes to Google Earth

February 18 2009 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

The day when anyone can create a stunning 3D Augmented Reality simulation is getting closer.  Last month, General Electric's innovative AR media campaign to promote its 'Smart Grid' platform helped to push Augmented Reality out into the masses by giving users a chance to try it at home using a printable marker download and webcam.

Now Digital Urban has featured a new Google Earth Plug-in and Printable Marker download developed by InGlobe Technologies.  The company has expanded its Augmented Reality Media software beyond Google Sketchup into the increasingly 'mirror world'-esque Google Earth.   Downloads are available on the company's ARSights

See GE's Smart Grid Augmented Reality Campaign

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Regulatory Virtual Worlds Backlash on the Horizon?

May 13 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 8 Hot

The broader Second Life consumer backlash that many predicted for 2007 (and actually occurred) may pale in comparison to the regulatory backlash coming in late 2008 or 2009.

Marking what could well be the first resounding shot in a full-fledged war on virtual worlds, and rich online environments in general, US House Representative Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) extended his crusade against online predators to the rapidly growing virtual world of Second Life , calling for “common sense reforms” that would make it harder for predators to intermingle with youngsters.

Coming on the heels of a Congressional hearing on the positives and negatives of virtual worlds , Kirk’s recent remarks are the most negative to date by a U.S. legislator and marks a serious push to regulate new digital terrain, especially during a presidential election year that looks to pit young vs. old, innovation vs. conservativism.

In a May 11 interview with a local news channel Kirk presented Second Life as “one of the fastest growing websites on the planet” adding that he’s worried “that they don’t properly screen for children.” “Parents should be more aware of this,” he said. (cont.)

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Kids and Tweens in Virtual Worlds - VW '08 Panel Take-Aways

April 07 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: General   Rating: 7

Virtual worlds for kids are an exploding market. But what do they mean for our youth and for the future of our society?

I just had the pleasure to sit through a Virtual Worlds 2008 session titled Kids and Tweens: Why Virtual Worlds Are The New Saturday Morning TV during which a panel of experts shared their thoughts on the rise of virtual worlds as the primary form of entertainment for our youth, exhibiting what moderator Richard Gottlieb labeled as a “sense of overwhelming optimism” about the growing industry.

The following are my favorite bytes and take-aways:

Jason Root, Senior Vice President, Digital, Nick.Com And Nick At Nite.Com asserted that “gaming is the new programming that kids gravitate to”, adding that Nickelodeon views it and virtual worlds “as a logical extension to the web space” and not a replacement for narrative television programming. “That leads kids into a new open-ended experience,” said Root, noting that what’s emerging is an audience “that hungers for both linear and non-linear content.”

Kenneth Locker, Senior Vice President, Digital Media, Cookie Jar Entertainment explained that virtual world experience producers “don’t create content, they create context”, meaning that the goal is to facilitate a variety of sticky open-ended experiences rather than passive consumption. “TV is a top-down medium,” he concluded, “The internet has no beginning, middle or end.”


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Journal of Virtual Worlds Research Now Online

April 08 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

Virtual Worlds News reports that an alliance of metaversally focused scholars is poised to launch a new academic publication called the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, an “online, open access, peer-reviewed, transdisciplinary, academic journal, which engages established and emerging scholars from anywhere in the world.”

The new site should serve as a nice complement to the already invaluable Terra Nova, a blog by committee of industry experts that has been been discussing the MMOG and Virtual World terrain for some time now, and the increasingly valuable Virtual Worlds News which does a great job reporting the most ground-breaking metaverse industry items.

The Journal of Virtual Worlds has put out a call for papers related (but not limited) to the following topics:

- development of new metaphors for visualizing and interacting effectively with rich information spaces
- governance and taxation diversity
- methodologies of research in virtual worlds
- education in virtual worlds, virtual worlds in education, virtual worlds in the classroom, virtual worlds as pedagogical tools, curriculum in virtual worlds


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Virtual Worlds Finally Make the Jump to Mobile Phones

April 29 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 7 Hot

This is a shot that was definitely not heard around the “real world”.

A company named Vollee has at last enabled fluid access to 3D virtual worlds, namely Second Life, via a mobile phone. Check out the video of their new service, currently in Beta:

While this product won’t matter to 99.9% of us (barring the SL addicted) in the short term, it’s a big milestone for the broader evolution of the web.

As such, we can use it to extrapolate what changes an increasingly interactive 3D web might gradually enable:

Perhaps we’ll visit real-time representations of stores from hundreds of miles away or more efficiently navigate shops in real space, or more easily find jobs that allow us to work from afar, or surf 3D social networks to see what our friends are currently doing and where, or hop into virtual games tied into real-life locations when we’re bored, or search the web in 3D and 2D as well as through text and semantic search, etc.

The main point is that as we endeavor to simulate the near term future of other domains like health, business, transporation, etc. it’s important to consider the impact of new products like Vollee so that we don’t miss the larger, more disruptive products and events just over the horizon.

New Virtual World Makes Kids Do Real Life Chores

March 05 2008 / by Venessa Posavec / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 5

Can’t get little Johnny to do his chores? Try using a virtual world as a parenting tool to instill the Protestant work ethic in him.

A California-based company, Handipoints, just launched an online community to make work fun. Targeting kids aged 4-12, the community already has 140,000 users. Parents can set up online chore charts and an allowance program, and kids earn points for completing real world tasks. They can then use those points to unlock characters and games in the virtual world, called HandiLand, or save up points in exchange for whatever rewards the parents have chosen.

Virtual worlds aren’t just about games anymore. Now kids can be motivated to do their chores, learn economics, and understand that nothing in life is free.

It’s all part of an emerging trend as virtual worlds are being used as platforms for all kinds of innovations.

What Is The Future of Media and Communication?

March 17 2008 / by Venessa Posavec / In association with Future
Category: Culture   Year: Beyond   Rating: 5

How is the digital revolution shaping the way we interact with media? Below is a cool concept video exploring how the internet has already changed the way we consume and share information. It then presents a timeline into the next 40 years, giving us a vision of how content may be consumed in the future.

Traditional information sources like books, newspapers, and even your own experiences may be fully replaced by new interfaces, like electronic paper, simulated reality through virtual worlds, and memory sharing among the masses.

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Myrl Launches Social Networking for Avatars

March 21 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future
Category: Metaverse   Year: 2008   Rating: 4

Making friends in virtual worlds is pretty hit-or-miss. Unless you’re at a specific event, you have no idea what kind of person you’re bound to bump into. To make matters worse, approaching someone requires a bit of bravery. Interacting from behind a computer screens helps, but virtual worlds are so life-like that talking to someone out of the blue takes some level of courage. Dare ask someone their real name? Blasphemy!

This morning Virtual Worlds News reported the launch of a London-based social network for the metaverse called Myrl. Created in an effort to allow users to “worldshop,” as founder and CEO Francesco D’Orazio put it, Myrl intends to knock down the barriers that make virtual worlds so exclusive from one another.

Even in its early stages, Myrl has much to offer when trying to find like-minded users/avatars. Think of it as Facebook for the Metaverse – you can post pics, share favorite places and slurls, promote your virtual start-up, make friends, and even earn “Karma” points the more you interact with others. According to TechCrunch UK, Myrl currently supports users from Second Life and, but plans to continually expand and create relationships with numerous other virtual worlds.

This social network and others of its kind will surely result in a more seamless metaverse experience for all – and allow those of us with shy avatars to finally make some friends. :)
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Interested in virtual worlds? Don’t miss this year’s annual Virtual Worlds Conference from April 3-4 in New York City for a host of interesting keynotes, demos, networking events and more. Email for info on how to get a discount on conference tix.

The Legal Issues Facing Virtual Worlds

March 29 2008 / by Accel Rose / In association with Future
Category: Social Media   Year: General   Rating: 4

Here’s a cool slide presentation by Cory Ondrejka, former CTO of Second Life who now teaches at USC’s Annenberg School, that summarizes the bevy of legal issues facing virtual worlds:

(via Raph Koster)

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