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
Not only are myriad start-ups getting into the virtual frenzy,
so are corporate giants like
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.
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
interview with the shepherd himself, which we’ve also condensed
into the following Q&A most related to the future of virtual
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.)
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
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
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.”
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
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
This is a shot that was definitely not heard around the “real
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.
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
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
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
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.
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?
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 There.com, 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. :)
- - Interested in virtual worlds? Don’t miss this year’s annual
Worlds Conference from April 3-4 in New York City for a host of
interesting keynotes, demos, networking events and more. Email
firstname.lastname@example.org for info on how to get a discount on conference