E27 Unconference: “Virtual Worlds and MMORPGs” (session 1)

E27 SG IV Unconference @ SMU
Track 1, Session 1 : 7.45pm to 8.15pm
“Virtual Worlds and MMORPGs” by Aileen & Douglas (Expara.com), Leonard (TYLER Projects)

First up, the Virtual World’s discussion (lead by Expara) talked about the potential of virtual worlds overtaking our current Internet as a predominant online platform. Unfortunately, they reiterated that “it is the future”, without providing any usable evidence (yes, the “iffy” SL economy data was cited). Participant were solicited for views on what they thought about their claim, but since the question was superficial to begin with, most of us had little to go on and agreed that it was just hype.

I joined in by explaining how 3D virtual spaces should be viewed like any other media, where they don’t replace one another, but rather used according to a one’s needs. In the case of Second Life, I explained how for the first time on the Internet, shades of identity, spatial presence and non-verbal communication could be experienced in a very rich way. This allows for SL to be a great socializing medium, which I see as a serious application of such services. We use particular media for particular needs, and no one needs to dominate over another. Judging from the Expara’s take on this, I doubt they fully grasped what I meant.

From a later conversation I had with them, I learnt that they were actually trying tap into virtual economies. Thanks to people like Anshe Chung, Second Life has been invaded by new residents hoping to make a quick buck, without truly participating in the existing culture throughout the lands. These gold-rush residents exploit the goodwill that could have persisted in SL, since they use all means (including scripts/bots) for economic gains. For example, they sometimes use multiple accounts to buy over cheap First Land meant for new residents, and reselling them for a huge profit. On the other hand, there are metaverse marketing companies such as The Electric Sheep Company and Millions of Us who seem to be doing a decent job establishing SL presence for real-life companies, yet incorporating them well into SL social/technological ecology. The bottomline is that one really has to see where the difference lie, and to use such metaverses according to their advantages over traditional textual spaces.

If only the Expara group were less guarded with their ideas, participants like ourselves would have reciprocated in kind. Granted in a user-generated unconference anything goes, but the same dynamics of giving and sharing still needs to exist for everyone to happily co-operate.

13 thoughts on “E27 Unconference: “Virtual Worlds and MMORPGs” (session 1)

  1. thanks for coming, pity we didn’t get to speak though i did speak with your dad (tell him he’s cool!) =D

    FYI, Leonard from first session is not from Expara but TYLER Projects, they have 1.3 M users from their portfolio of games now…

  2. Thanks, I’ll clear that up. OK, 1.3 million users, but Leonard didn’t get to share (or speak at all) about his mmorpg development experience. 🙁

  3. Thanks for the video, Kevin (almost as good as being there). I enjoyed the discussion on Virtual Worlds. I take the point with the gentleman (from Expara?) that the definition of “Virtual Worlds” is wider than “Second Life”. After watching the video, I am quite convinced that the participants all need to read Vernor Vinge, and the occasional “Analog” and “Asimov” magazines!

  4. Thanks for the vid, I was there at the unconference. I recognized you but I didnt get a chance to talk to you.

    I think the metaverse talk was interesting, just a tad too short. I think there’s alot of misconception about the metaverse, as seen from what the participants has expressed and I dont believe that its just hype.

    Its strange for me to see many people not being open to it.

  5. Woah Rina, your videoblog on the misconceptions of metaverses like Second Life rocks! Wish we actually met up, so much we could have talked about 🙂

  6. If there is any other discussion about the metaverse, I’m keen to go! 🙂 I think there will be one in March when Cory Linden comes to town.

    Would have gone to SMU earlier to mingle, except for some reason I thought that the unconference was held at SIM and I had a great time with the traffic.

  7. Hi Kevin,

    Thanks for the feedback. Agree that virtual worlds is another medium with its own use and will not completely replace everything / all other mediums.

    “Virtual worlds are the future” is a very strong statement to make, but we like to be a little more provocative in discussions. 😉 This statement of course is not to be taken literally. It basically just means we think virtual worlds has the potential to be a powerful and in the future, widely used medium for communication/ entertainment/ collaboration etc.

    Almost a century ago, people said that “TV is going to be the future.” They were right! (So were the people who said “the Internet is going to be the future” 2 decades back.) Not that TV ever did completely replace radio. But the TV market today dwarfs the radio market by several magnitudes.

    Also agree that SL is full of people trying to make a quick buck without truly understanding and wanting to serve the needs of the market. (Don’t think these businesses are sustainable anyway.) Therefore, I think there is a lot of opportunities for credible businesses with innovative ideas.

    Hi Marina, Preetam mentioned you were at the unconf. Wanted to speak with you but sorry we didn’t get the chance to. Will definitely be there when Cory comes to town. See you then =)

  8. Michael: Spot on… it seems that SL herald has found some flaws with Nick Yee’s SL research into non-verbal cues. Worth a read since it pertains to how similar we tend to behave in real vs. virtual worlds.

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