Oct 252010
 

Gary is presenting on an Ad:Tech Augmented Reality panel later this week in Tokyo going beyond simple AR business models (see this post from over a year ago) and current delivery, real world possibilities, and talking about a near term futures and opportunities, especially in the area of branded location based augmented reality games and services. There will also be discussions related to barriers to adoption and how to open up the market – similar to topics Gary addressed in this recent presentation to the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association Mobile board…but here is the Ad:Tech Tokyo panel (sadly Zugara had to pull out of the panel but Gary will show some of their work)

Augmented Reality – A Showcase What The Marketers Need To Know – October 28th 5:40pm – 6:30pm

“Is AR just like a lift-the-flap book?”
What value can AR offer for people and enterprises?
The session outlines various definitions of AR such as location based platform or image recognition platform and how the technology provides valuable insight for marketing. Exploring various case studies, we will discuss the current situations and issues for AR as well as its future.

Gary Hayes CCO, MUVEDesign & StoryLabs

Akihiko Tokuhisa CTO, Digital Advertising Consortium Inc. Moderator

Masataka Hosogane Executive Creative Director, Mobile Communication Development Department, Communication Design Center, DENTSU Inc.

Gary will be showing several of his Augmented Reality branding overview videos such as the recent Recognition – Business Opportunities but also one of three Location Based Augmented Reality Story developments in this space  called ‘Time Treasure” – a rudimentary, story rich LBARG (location based AR game?!) that MUVEDesign are currently story designing & coding for Android tablets. A hort 2 minute taster video embedded below…

Without giving the plot away, the structure of this game is quite straightforward. There are ten layers of time from 2050 back to 5000BC that you slowly penetrate following stories, clues and trails all based at POIs (points of interest, precise locations) around your city. The traditional MMOG talking-head quest and story givers are a unique part of this as well as a range of capture & loot quests that require you in some cases to do a little ‘real world’ grinding… ok not too much 🙂 For me the challenge as always is about creating strong ‘call to actions’ and constructing a narrative backbone to make it worth your while walking and in some cases running around town! I will do a post when this reaches a full working pilot.

We will keep you updated in the next months of progress on this and the branded client games also in progress.

Oct 092010
 


This is a brief description and support page for the October 2010 released iPad app Social Media Counts one of several non-client commissioned MUVEDesign smartphone apps.

Get it via the iTunes App store now or go to the Apple App preview page

1.0 RELEASE VERSION 1.0 – Description and screen shot

Social Media Counts is an amazing and hypnotic real time display of eighty four user, content and business metrics across social media, games, mobile and traditional or heritage media. The data is based on actual reported numbers which are listed in the embedded info panel and this rolling ‘count-up counter’ is a projection forward in time based on these real numbers. With over 40 million impressions already of the embeddable flash version across the web this counter gives real insight into the tsunami of content, proliferation of devices and the money being made from a range of entertainment and services.

Features

include the ability to switch in real time between the social. mobile, games and heritage lists as well as step forward in increments of day, week, month and a fixed view of a year ahead. You can also reset the counter at any point using the ‘begin’ button. An info screen contains a list of most of the data sources used in the counter and a web link takes you to a web page with these listed and links to the sources pages also.

Please Note: The application is intentionally not highly interactive as it is meant to be used as a display in portrait mode only, making it readable at presentations and demonstrations to others in small meeting environments as it allows easy visibility of the amazingly large growing numbers.

The app will be updated regularly – approx once a month with updated statistics where available and suggestions are always welcomed for new, remarkable figures (make sure you have a reliable per day, month or year figure though!)

For reference here are the current list of real time counter metrics being displayed:

Social Media Tab

new blog posts, members added on Facebook, US dollars spent on virtual goods globally, tweets sent on Twitter, videos watched on YouTube, iPhone apps downloaded, US dollars spent on Facebook gifts, hours uploaded onto YouTube, new Twitter accounts, text messages inside Second Life, US dollars made from global messaging & data, iPads sold, new members on LinkedIn, pieces of music bought on iTunes, searches made on Google, emails sent globally, US dollars made in ad revenue on Facebook, sms’s sent worldwide, photos uploaded to Facebook, images uploaded to Flickr, new internet users globally

Mobile Media Tab

new mobile phones shipped, US dollars generated from mobile games, sms’ sent worldwide, new phones GPS enabled, US dollars made by global mobile data, WiFi and 3G iPads sold globally, iPhones sold, GBs sent across all mobile devices, hours of mobile video watched in USA, US dollars made from all mobile services globally, new users of mobile social networks, US dollars spent on mobile advertising worldwide, new mobile subscribers globally, new portable pcs / laptops shipped, mms messages in the US, iPhones unlocked, US dollars made from mobile music, people using location mobile services logged onto the web using mobile, made from mobile video, new mobile 3G subscribers globally

Games
join a ‘social’ game from Zynga, US dollars made from MMOG players China, quests completed by WoW players, US dollars revenue from games sold in US, user2user tranactions Second Life, transactions in Eve Online, game units sold worldwide, US dollars spent on virtual goods globally, new global MMORPG subscribers, US dollars generated from Virtual World ads, logged into Fantasy Westward Journey, virtual goods created in Second Life, US dollars invested in Virtual World companies, new US kids (3-11) subscribing to VWs, messages between Second Life users, players transactions in Eve Online, US dollars net revenue made World of Warcraft, portable game units sold, user hours by Chinese online gamers, messages posted on Gaia forums, user hours by Second Life users

Heritage Media
US dollars made at the US box office, US dollars lost to US economy due to movie piracy, read a newspaper in the US, Dollars TV revenue generated globally, single music tracks downloaded, attend a US orchestral concert, US dollars made from global print ads, US dollars total spend making Australian films, US dollars total spend on making UK films, US dollars wages for jobs in US movie industry, US dollarshardcover books sold worldwide, kindle books sold just by Amazon, people in US tuning into radio, US dollars made from music concerts worldwide, US dollars made from DVD & Blu-ray in US, US dollars lost by pirated music & movies Spain, US dollars made from all music worldwide, hours of TV watched by all UK viewers, movie tickets sold US EU China Japan,US dollars spent on new TV sets in the US, printed press page views

Oct 052010
 

MUVEDesign can help you deliver a range of cutting edge projects. As well as editorial consultants and service designers (we are currently developing two in-house Augmented Reality Games plus several iPhone and Android apps) we can build and develop for clients across the following platforms:

APPLE SDK

We are registered iOS 4.1 developers with several apps coming out via the App store soon. We can also place paid apps through onto the store for clients

ANDROID SDK

We are part of the Android development community and can develop applications for android tablets and mobile devices and distribute into the Android market for clients

GEO LOCATION DEVELOPMENT

MUVEDesign are registered developers on both the Layar and Junaio location based browsers that work on Android and iPhad platforms. We can also develop Junaio Glue, marker or pattern based recognition

MARKER & IMAGE RECOGNITION AUGMENTED REALITY

We can develop simple AR marker webcam services using the industry standard Flash AR toolkit or utilise some of the latest technology such as Qualcomm’s Augmented Reality SDK which we are beta registered for

GAMES AND VIRTUAL WORLDS AND SOCIAL MEDIA

MUVEDesign can naturally build a range of social media sites such as WordPress/BuddyPress networks, Drupal or Joomla installs and is well known already as a key Second Life developer but also can create standalone games using software such as Unity – for iPhone, Web, Standalone Mac & PC and even Wii games.

Jun 292010
 

Personalizemedia.com just posted a detailed look at a video entitled Augmented Worlds Video Part One – Recognition. The focus is looking specifically at the business model implications of the widespread use of a large tablet AR device and super fast, always on tagged/recognisable content. There are other videos in the series covering education, games & stories as well as utility near futures – but though it would be cool to cross post the video here too! Enjoy and read more about the video on the link above

AUGMENTED WORLDS Pt.1 - Business Opportunities: RECOGNITION.

An ‘iPad 4.0 – like prototype’ stroll around an augmented Sydney. Video, music devised & created by GARY HAYES of MUVEDesign.com – there are some key assumptions with this video detailed here –

ASSUMPTIONS WITH THIS CONCEPT

OK this tablet device with camera is running on a very fast connection, instant video and image so we are assuming city wide wifi or 4G type service connection. Also some elements pop up immediately so we can assume the user in the video (me) has setup some preferences or it has learned what type of service I like so it gives instant fulfilment vs dropping into endless menus (more on the interface next). Also the device is extremely aware of its location to a few inches, so we can assume that some of the ‘recognition’ elements are speeded up, being tied into precisely where the user is stood/orientated ‘combined’ with recognition – this will speed up the overall process vs using only Kooaba like Smart Visuals Recognition which puts a lot of pressure on server-side processing.

Notice on the  of the interface I have put the words “CONNECTED TO: Sydney CBD People and Places cached data” which is basically pointing out that the speed of recognition to data display is super accelerated when all information is pre-cached, and the way intelligent caching works means the more popular the ‘target’ the faster the response. Privacy – there are a few sequences here and in the longer video that show people being ‘recognised’. Obviously a real concern at the moment, so the concept video assumes the users being targeted have given their consent to outdoor recognition…I know this is a post in itself (see one of mine recently) but lets assume like TagWhat and FourSquare like services, users are allowing their ‘trusted’ friends and companies (for benefits) assess to being recognised – at least for the purposes of this concept!

Oct 232009
 

A cross-post from Gary Hayes’s Personalizemedia Site (with permission!) … As promised a more specific ‘commercial’ follow up to my previous post on this topic which was more ‘story’ centric. I am developing and producing a range of Augmented Reality (or if you prefer AR, ‘blended or layered media’) applications at the moment. I have also been asked to present at a few conferences and create a detailed white paper on the implications of AR for government & business looking at privacy, legal, copyright & crime issues. As readers of this blog will know I also lecture, run workshops and work with creative teams to come up with future ‘social entertainment’ based around virtual worlds and augmented reality.

But the purpose of this short post is to simply list and try to categorise the many types of business Augmented Reality apps appearing in the market. The first manifestations of AR appeared in the late 60s, became real in the 70s and by the 90s were already being used by major companies. Now portable computing is finally powerful enough to deliver AR to anyone who has a smart phone or latest generation PC or console. But first my simple definition of Augmented Reality.
Information, 3D models or live action blended with or overlaid onto the physical world in real time. A camera & attached screen is used to view the combination of reality & real time virtuality. Devices or systems commonly used for AR include

But the purpose of this pretty detailed post is to simply list and try to categorise the many types of business Augmented Reality apps appearing in the market and to try to identify opportunities.

Augmented Dollar

Augmented Reality Business by Gary Hayes

Continue reading »

Oct 182009
 

Because who used to be our audience are now co-creators and spending time across a sea of media and devices. This counter from MUVEDesign’s Gary Hayes gives a brief insight into the torrent of social and anti-social content that only the best professional transmedia properties will be heard above the noise. Contact MUVEDesign for a consultation!

May 262009
 

A cross-post from Gary’s main media site Personalizemedia

Tran-social-media-play [tran-soc-shuh-mee-dee-uh-pley] noun, verb

1 noun – a new form, a means of collaborative communication through play in constructed shared ‘media-rich’ environments

2 verb – taking part in game-like activity across and within online and offline social networks and media portals.

Can we truly create meaningful immersive media ‘experiences’ for others? Ones that last, are memorable, have impact & emotion and keeps the ‘experience players’ coming back for more? I am currently building services, working on papers and delivering courses on Experience Design and this post is a quick summation of some of the background thinking and good case studies.

Life is filled with so many exciting twists and turns. Hop off the straight and narrow whenever you can and take the winding paths. Experience the exhilaration of the view from the edge. Because the moments spent there, that take your breath away, are what make you feel truly alive. © 2000 Stacey Charter

Filmmakers and marketeers are clearly moving into #TranSocialMedia Play in a big way with a triple whammy at the moment of Star Trek, Terminator & Lost (fan) ARG’s and a raft of social media campaigns across other film and TV properties (some much better than others!). I have written about worlds immersion and cross-media design many times in the past but this post looks at the addition of social play into the mix – a permanent fixture.

Continue reading »

Feb 232009
 

What may save TV may also truly grow Social Virtual Worlds. As online audiences continue to ignore TV and vanilla/social virtual worlds suffer from a lack of direction, perhaps the marriage of the two will save both from irrelevancy? A report by Gary Hazlitt in various TV branded virtual world spaces. (original post on personalizemedia)

twinityspiritThere have been several forays by TV properties (gradually losing their audience and associated ad revenues) into social virtual worlds over the past two years. I don’t just mean branded one-off events but actually setting up shop, building a familiar and representive space for the ‘users’ to play in. These forays range from at one end, simple branded spaces pushing episodes on screens through to actually running variants of the TV format to be played out by participant avatars in a detailed build -with many points in-between. But before the meat of the post (a couple of new entrants) here is a quick list to give you an idea of some of the shows and channels that have tried, had some success or failed. As I have been involved in a few of them and visited all, I have listed ones I think have had most impact (engagement) through to those who didn’t quite get it (reversioning).

  1. NBC’s Gossip Girl
  2. MTV’s – Laguna Beach on There.com (also Hills, PimpMyRide etc)
  3. Big Brother – PersonalizeMedia detailed report & at launch
  4. Showtimes The L Word
  5. CBS – CSI:New York and from TechCrunch
  6. Weather Channel – Info, simulations and Extreme Sports area
  7. Australia’s ABC TV Island – Channel & some programmes (eg: Librarians)
  8. NBC Universal Media Island – Channel & concerts & events
  9. London Live – the first music show to appear on the cyberchannel: Virtual Life.TV
  10. SkyNews Island – News Set role play
  11. The Money Programme BBC screening
  12. Channel 4 – Radio Station
  13. Sundance Channel – Virtual screening room
  14. Inhabited TV 1997! – BBC, BT, Illuminations and others
  15. many more…0ver to you and comments!

twinityspirit01There is a rule of thumb regarding TV execs and virtual worlds or serious games initiatives – do not let the TV folk take control as they have too much ingrained baggage around non-participatory media and the resultant compromise is often of no use to anyone – get people who understand game play (and be aware that often excludes traditional game developers) and social media involved or face the consequences. The ones above that really worked allowed the participant audience to really ‘live’ in the shoes of the characters either by having activities similar to the protagonists, meeting the ‘fictional characters’, a social space that resonated with the shows aesthetic or a great set with game-like elements. I have talked a lot about Mixed Reality Entertainment in the past and how one of the most innovative uses of virtual space is to extend the TV or Film property into a 24/7, participatory environment. The main reason for doing this is to drive traffic to the TV but also to keep existing followers loyal to the branded property. As an example there is more detail about the reasoning on my post on Big Brother (good and bad) in Second Life (Witnessing the Birth of an Entertainment Form) as well as posts nearby on CSI in Second Life and many of MTVs properties in There.com (TV Property Branded Virtual Worlds – The Beginning). There are moves around the world including BBC and many European broadcasters who are creating worlds alongside and in some cases in front of the TV episodics and this is the important point. Promoting films with games or virtual world spaces has a very limited life span, forging a strong link between virtual world events and TV episodics is to me a virtuous circle – especially considering the 200 plus worlds populated by the youth audience who are typically turning off TV – teens and tweens. Earlier there were many experiments of TV/World hybrids and I was involved, as mentioned before, in the Mirror. Here is John Wyver (then Illuminations) talking about that (remember this is circa 1997!).

The other key element that contributed to the success of The Mirror, much as in real life, was the provision of regular “hosts” for the space. These needed to be frequent visitors who spent a significant amount of their time in the world, and whom users could have some reasonable expectation of encountering when they logged on. These hosts would greet new entrants, introduce people to each other, point out activities and generally help people around. More than this, however, over time they became the core of the community of the world, encouraging people to return and beginning to develop the particular language and culture of The Mirror. Needless to say, they were the saddest to see it turned off after seven weeks – although a number of relationships begun virtually have continued in the real world – including at least one marriage and one recently born child.

Recent company start-ups or collaborations also suggest that there are moves afoot. Icarus studios are squarely aiming at the TV/VirtualWorld hybrid and about 18 months ago Endemol & EA teamed up to create Virtual World TV formats (VirtualMe) based on Deal or No Deal and Big Brother. Also there have been a plethora of immersive film launches (play-in-the-set-type builds) across the metaverse and I Legend, Digital Hollywood, Iron Man, Quantum of Solace and Transformers spring to mind as I write – but as I said this post is more to do with a continuous, what happens on TV resonantes into the virtual world and what happens there is reflected into the TV episodics. (I regularly consult on this specific area so won’t go into any more detail!)…

habbo_heroes_image2

So, it is interesting to see this trend continuing as new world Twinity starts to do more experiential ‘film’ property marketing and even more ‘demographically focussed’ the current series of Heroes being extended into Habbo

The agreement was brokered by the William Morris Agency and marks the first time ‘Heroes’ has partnered with a virtual world.

..but not in the usual way. As reported by LA Times “‘Heroes’ hops on to Habbo’s virtual world” they will be introducing a virtual-only character Syn Anders who will act as a bridge or guide to the TV series. NBC themselves give more detail here.

While following directions from a mysterious virtual messenger, the new character will take the audience on an adventure as she discovers the history of ‘Heroes’ through a journey that travels back and forth between Habbo.com and the ‘Heroes’ Evolutions site. “We’re excited to work with Habbo to introduce a new character that will extend the enormously popular and Emmy® Award winning ‘Heroes’ interactive story beyond the official Web site on NBC.com,” said Stephen Andrade, senior vice president, Digital Development and General Manager, NBC.com. On Habbo.com, fans of the show will be able to interact with the new virtual hero through a variety of in-game activities. Habbos participating in a weeklong quest will discover their own special powers and will be recruited as new heroes. Those who successfully complete the mission will be awarded various virtual prizes. On the ‘Heroes’ Evolutions site, the new virtual hero will be woven into several of the in-universe, interactive extensions of the on-air show, including a character profile, the Primatech Paper Assignment Tracker and new chapters of the ‘Heroes’ graphic novels.

This is a great use of virtual worlds and it also shows that you don’t need richly rendered environments to be able to engage with participants in these spaces. Also in terms of the ‘linking’ paradigm, it is close to ‘my’ level 3 wikipedia cross-media definition

Excerpt “Cross-media 3.0 – Bridges. – The truest form of cross-media where the story or service structure is specifically authored to drive the audience using strong Call-To-Actions, across media devices to continue the journey. The content placed on the other platform is critical to staying in touch with the experience and the narrative bridges tease you towards investigating or moving to another media form/platform. Obvious examples include a TV show that ends suddenly and gives you a URL to explore more. It may be an SMS that teases and points you towards a live concert in a city square which then leads you to a TV show, then to a podcast then to subscription emails. The trigger, or bridge, is the critical component of this in motivating the cross-media action.”

twinityspirit02Onto Twinity and the images here and above are me playing around in the pre-build set of the recently released and not universally praised film The Spirit. Although it grossed $10 million in the first 4 days it was pulled up for being unemotional and 2D. Well part of the problem generally with many big features now is that audiences have changed and want something more experiential – especially with ‘comic-noir’ films – why not let them ‘live’ in the story environment (my wikipedia item)? Twinity though have teamed up with Will Eisner studios to do this event (not in any way my ideal episodic but potentially a way for the Twinity user base to ‘create episodic, comic-noir’ machinima on-going?

CineStar Spirits you Away to Another World – CineStar’s CUBIX cinema in virtual Berlin is the premiere address for all movie-related events in Twinity. The cinema is currently showing the trailer and other exciting movie material from the upcoming premiere of The Spirit, a movie based on Will Eisner’s cult 1940s comic book series, which will be coming to a cinema screen near you from 5 February. Fans of the movie can get their hands on exclusive Spirit merchandising: including posters, standees, and an incredible Spirit mask that lets you see special visual effects inworld. Find more information here. Save the date and come to the opening party!
Date: Monday, 2 February
Time: 17:00 Berlin, 11am NYC, 00:00 Singapore
Where: CineStar CUBIX

twinityspirit03Twinity (by Metaversum, the German created virtual world) are a long ways from a mature stable platform, hence being in beta for the past 12 months or so, but are already exhibiting the best ‘world-led’ event-based, user activation. This in my mind is high on the list of reasons for likely success over many of the areas that over-hyped Second Life suffered from in the early days. OK the world is quite big and empty and many ‘social’ tools are not yet available inworld but the kind of activity quoted below (calling for videos, images, stories etc: attached to some well know brands) is great first step community building and more importantly getting a growing community to market for you. Even I had a go at one a few months ago – video embedded below 🙂 BTW Metaversum you really need to improve the video tools (detached camera please!).

Submit Your Artwork and Win! – Take part in The Spirit Screenshot and Machinima Contest and win an exclusive film poster signed by cult film director Frank Miller or The Spirit action figures.
Things Are Looking A Little Different Around Here…
Wear the mask and see Twinity through the eyes of the Spirit! – Use Twinity’s screenshot and recording tools to create incredible Spirit- inspired images! To be eligible to win the contest, screenshots must be created while wearing the Spirit Mask and its ‘visual effects’ must be demonstrated in your machinima. Screenshots may be submitted in jpg, png or gif formats.
Sensational Prizes – You have the chance to win sensational The Spirit prizes! Three prizes will be given out to the lucky winners of the Screenshot and Machinima Contest:
* 1st prize: The Spirit action figure and film poster signed by Frank Miller
* 2nd prize: The Spirit film poster signed by Frank Miller
* 3rd prize: The Spirit action figure
To take part in the contest, all you have to do is:

  • Submit your screenshots together with your Twinity name to quest@twinity.com or
  • Upload your movie to a video sharing website, for example “YouTube”, then submit the link to your uploaded video together with your Twinity name to quest@twinity.com
  • Competition deadline: 28 February 2009

We’ll celebrate the winning entries with a Winner’s Gallery party in the CineStar Event Hall! Artwork will be displayed in the CUBIX cinema during The Spirit promotion. Keep an eye on Twinity’s Event Calendar for further details!

Of course I would encourage all TV producers to think about their current audience and whether they want to reach them this way. More importantly you need to think of the appropriateness of creating inworld characters or environments for them to exist in – serious games (from documentaries) and childrens episodics are hot ones at the moment . The real effort is more about having great characters that are persistant in the space but beware of bots or NPC’s (non player characters) pretending to be real, this can have a strong counter productive effect. More later.

Feb 102009
 

As I have mentioned on many of my blogs (especially Personalizemedia) virtual worlds (as 3D navigable spaces) will only really take off when there is an effective, easy to use, existing web browser implementation. We already have early entrants here such as Yoville, Vivaty, NewLively, Habbo etc: but these suffer as they are not particularly customisable or graphical true 3D. The other half way houses include Weblin, RocketOn covered in posts here. Exit Reality is another over integrated browser world, which does look much better than the above as it turns web pages into 3D space, but still not easy to use.

“Imagine a business Web site where you can see what visitors are looking at and go and talk to them. Imagine a classroom with educational content like a real 3D exploding volcano and students physically located all over the world. Imagine a family or staff spread around the globe meeting up in a virtual space and being able to see each other and share photos, video and documents. The scenarios are endless with virtual worlds and until now, have been little more than pipe dreams to the average Web user,” says Vincent Teubler, co-founder of Gogofrog.

gogofrog01I am aware of over 15 new worlds that are heading in the right direction and turning more immersive virtual worlds into social, business, educative and networking 3D windows inside browsers. One that has just press-released today is gogofrog (co-founder comes from Melbourne), with a tagline ‘Virtual Simplicity’. Its heart is in the right place and with 30 000 already using it might quickly become a dominant new player?

Gogofrog is breaking with convention to offer a new type of web experience. The basic idea is that you create your own 3D space (pad) that you can decorate the way you want and to reflect your personal style. In Gogofrog you can move from pad to pad discovering sites created by others and chat with people you meet along the way. You can also create your own place where you can invite your family and friends to visit and hang out.

It still has a few lessons for learn from the demise of Google Lively, but several area addressed already. Keen to know how it connects the ‘pads’ properly (vs non-linked rooms) and how easy the customisation (vs importing jpeg images) tools for the 3D elements are. The full press release gives a lot more information and shows how they are across the need for personalization and integrating existing social tools inside the environment (especially video conferencing etc) – this service and the others just about to peek out are definitely worth watching. Just before the release here is a slightly reversioned Gartner Cycle showing how browser worlds are going to have more significance over the next two years.

Gartner Hype Cycle SVW

Virtual Worlds as Advanced Social Networks, Business and Education Tools Possible with Commercial Launch of Gogofrog

Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) February 10, 2009 — The power of virtual worlds as a means of advanced social networks, sophisticated business tools and education tools is now accessible to all Web users with the commercial launch of Gogofrog. Two years after its Beta launch, Gogofrog has taken the advice and input of its global user base of more than 30,000 to remove the prime impediments to making virtual worlds a mainstream Internet tool, access. Fully browser-based, Gogofrog enables anyone with an Internet connection to set up their own world: simple worlds for free and complex worlds for as little as a $10US monthly subscription. No software at all for Users or Visitors to download.
News Image
“Imagine a business Web site where you can see what visitors are looking at and go and talk to them. Imagine a classroom with educational content like a real 3D exploding volcano and students physically located all over the world. Imagine a family or staff spread around the globe meeting up in a virtual space and being able to see each other and share photos, video and documents. The scenarios are endless with virtual worlds and until now, have been little more than pipe dreams to the average Web user,” says Vincent Teubler, co-founder of Gogofrog.

Teubler was an early convert to virtual worlds and envisaged the power of worlds beyond the traditional realms of fantasy game play. These worlds traditionally require users to download software and usually participate in a single often poorly regulated world. Whilst businesses, educators and users of social networks saw the potential, Teubler believes the need to download software, poor security and costs associated with participating and developing content or real estate have all contributed to severely limiting the broader use of virtual worlds.

“Due to their complexity virtual worlds have faced a mountain of problems in reaching beyond game players and the odd company with deep pockets,” Teubler says. “As a browser-based platform, Gogofrog users and visitors to the various worlds need only have access to the Internet to fully participate. Since its Beta launch, Gogofrog users have built simple 3D spaces to meet with friends, students and customers. They’ve set about decorating their spaces with photos, simple objects and their writings and have variously created places to meet, educate and do business in.”

Among other enhancements, the commercial launch of Gogofrog includes greater communications tools.

“Anonymous text chat lends itself to fantasy game play but not much else. Our users demanded real-world communication, so we enabled avatar-to-avatar controlled webcam communication. It doesn’t get any better than that. You can request and start a webcam chat with anyone in your virtual Web space — friend, family, colleague or visitor,” Teubler says.

Gogofrog also features a variety of user-defined security measures. The capacity to communicate via webcam is a big security bonus not found in other virtual worlds, as an avatar’s profile can easily be matched against them with a simple webcam chat. Gogofrog further allows users to set who they will allow in their world. With the click of a button, users can set it so only people they know — friends, family, students or staff — can enter their world, or they can set it so only those who know a password can enter. Teubler says the latter was especially important to educators who wanted to ensure their students would have a completely safe virtual experience.

Gogofrog also found participation is crucial to users, so the commercial site enables users to participate in the world’s economy.

“Many worlds already have buoyant economies as a result of allowing users to participate,” Teubler says. “Users need to be able to personalize and brand their worlds and potentially sell items to the broader Gogofrog user and visitor community. Gogofrog allows users to sell their images, scenes, avatars, avatar clothing and accessories and 3D furniture and objects. Everyone can make real money through their contributions.”

With user feedback continuing to be incorporated into Gogofrog’s software development roadmap, Teubler believes his prediction of virtual worlds becoming a highly sophisticated, commercial and entertaining part of social networks and the mainstream Internet is fast becoming a “virtual” reality. For more information about Gogofrog, visit www.gogofrog.com.

Contacts
Vincent Teubler Co-Founder Gogofrog
Melbourne, Australia
http://www.gogofrog.com
+61411265715

Monica Dodi
CEO Gogofrog
LA, California, USA

Feb 102009
 

A nice presentation from Pierre-Olivier Carles, who does a good job of talking about a key ROI for companies today, saving money by being greener but also getting ethical brownie points for being greener.  He talks more about the presentation below on the blog post on Stonefield InWorld entitled  ‘Virtual Worlds Make Companies Greener“. The highlight of the video for me is a very simple and clear look at doing business and life inside a virtual space. Enjoy

Feb 032009
 

cnn_001I received an email from Karen iReport (Second Life name obviously) that CNN have now moved on from a small ‘hub’ presence in Second Life and onto their own island – which now includes a ‘classic’ automotive theme. It is great to see a positive growth move from CNN given the exit of Reuters not so long ago – I quote from her press release / email to me.

As a matter of fact, CNN is no longer a hub within SL, we have moved to our own island!

The new space features ‘in-world’ geographic elements and meeting spaces, including a virtual drive-in theater, complete with a snack bar and vintage cars where visitors can view recent in-world iReports, pick up iReport gear to dress their avatars and check out the iReport.com/secondlife page.

As you can see, as others are abandoning their presence in the SL community, CNN’s mission for iReport within Second Life remains as it did upon launch in 2008: to provide Second Life residents a way to identify and share news and events happening within their virtual community through the submission of ‘SL iReports’.

To celebrate our expansion, please join the in-world iReport staff and SL residents on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd, from 12 noon ET noon to 6 p.m. ET (9am SLT – 3pm SLT). We’re going to have an open house including some very special guests, and island tour (click here to view screen shots of the enhancements) and even some dancing!

Hope you can make it…

and more from the official release on the CNN site

CNNBuilding upon the popularity of iReport in the virtual world of Second Life, CNN has relocated to its own island. This island features new ‘in-world’ geographic elements and meeting spaces, including a virtual drive-in theater complete with a snack bar and vintage cars. CNN’s mission for iReport within Second Life remains as it did upon launch in 2008: to provide Second Life residents a way to identify and share news and events happening within their virtual community through the submission of “SL iReports.”

Jan 292009
 

I have talked a lot about Mixed Reality Entertainment on my media blog personalizemedia and how one of the most innovative uses of virtual space is to extend the TV or Film property into a 24/7, participatory environment.  The reason for doing this is to drive traffic to the TV or Film but also to keep existing followers loyal to the branded property. There is more detail about the reasoning on my posts on Big Brother in Second Life (Witnessing the Birth of an Entertainment Form) as well as posts nearby on CSI in Second Life and many of MTVs properties in There.com. There are moves around the world including BBC and many European broadcasters who are creating worlds alongside and in some cases in front of the TV episodics. So it is great to see this trend continuing as the current series of Heroes being extended into Habbo

The agreement was brokered by the William Morris Agency and marks the first time ‘Heroes’ has partnered with a virtual world.

..but not in the usual way. As reported by LA Times “‘Heroes’ hops on to Habbo’s virtual world” they will be introducing a virtual-only character Syn Anders who will act as a bridge or guide to the TV series. NBC themselves give more detail here.

While following directions from a mysterious virtual messenger, the new character will take the audience on an adventure as she discovers the history of ‘Heroes’ through a journey that travels back and forth between Habbo.com and the ‘Heroes’ Evolutions site.  “We’re excited to work with Habbo to introduce a new character that will extend the enormously popular and Emmy® Award winning ‘Heroes’ interactive story beyond the official Web site on NBC.com,” said Stephen Andrade, senior vice president, Digital Development and General Manager, NBC.com.  On Habbo.com, fans of the show will be able to interact with the new virtual hero through a variety of in-game activities. Habbos participating in a weeklong quest will discover their own special powers and will be recruited as new heroes. Those who successfully complete the mission will be awarded various virtual prizes.  On the ‘Heroes’ Evolutions site, the new virtual hero will be woven into several of the in-universe, interactive extensions of the on-air show, including a character profile, the Primatech Paper Assignment Tracker and new chapters of the ‘Heroes’ graphic novels.

This is a great use of virtual worlds and it also shows that you don’t need richly rendered environments to be able to engage with participants in these spaces. Also in terms of the ‘linking’ paradigm,  it is close to my level 3 wikipedia cross-media definition

Excerpt “Cross-media 3.0 – Bridges. – The truest form of cross-media where the story or service structure is specifically authored to drive the audience using strong Call-To-Actions, across media devices to continue the journey. The content placed on the other platform is critical to staying in touch with the experience and the narrative bridges tease you towards investigating or moving to another media form/platform. Obvious examples include a TV show that ends suddenly and gives you a URL to explore more. It may be an SMS that teases and points you towards a live concert in a city square which then leads you to a TV show, then to a podcast then to subscription emails. The trigger, or bridge, is the critical component of this in motivating the cross-media action.”

Of course I would encourage all TV producers to think about their current audience and whether they want to reach them this way. More importantly you need to think of the appropriateness of creating inworld characters or environments for them to exist in – serious games (from documentaries) and childrens episodics are hot ones at the moment . The real effort is more about having great characters that are persistant in the space but beware of bots or NPC’s (non player characters) pretending to be real, this can have a strong counter productive effect. More later.

Jan 272009
 

I was looking for one place on the web that had a list of the mix of male and females across the ‘game/virtual world’ space. I have actually found it useful to quote many of these stats to clients who still believe console games, online ‘quest’ based games and virtual worlds are still the domain of twenty something, slightly overweight, couch potato, anti-social males. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are lots of Australian centric insights (eg: SMH here “Never too old to play“) But these are more global or US based. Read on and in no particular order!

“Games Women Play” Sep 08  from the Edge

  • Online casual games bring in 150 million women every month– roughly half the population of the United States.
  • Nearly two-thirds of women casual players online are over 35.
  • Women play casual games 5 to 10 hours per day – significantly greater than the 7.4 hours per week by a survey by the Casual Gaming Association.
  • Competition, rather than simple relaxation or escapism, motivates them to play.
  • Female players who are 18 and older represent one third of the game-playing population while male players who are 17 or younger represent only 18 percent of casual gamers
  • Playing casual games is often the first thing women do after waking. They check their ranking and play for on average of 2 ½ hours every morning.
  • Women engage in trivia games with the family members but play action games alone.
  • Most women players are married or in a relationship and have children.

Online Gaming Popularity Grows Among Youngest and Oldest Female Segments in the U.S. ComScore report.

  • Significant user growth among teenage girls between the ages of 12 and 17 and women between the ages of 55 and 64.
  • Growth in the 12 – 17 age range was 55% compared to the total female online gaming audience rate of 27%
  • The over-55 age range grew 43%.

BBC 23 December 2008 “Battle of the Sexes”

  • It found that the most hard-core players are female, that gamers are healthier than average, and that game playing is an increasingly social activity.
  • Despite gaming being seen as a male activity, female players now make up about 40% of the gaming population.
  • The study (detailed link here from Wiley interscience) looked at gender differences in more than 2,400 gamers playing EverQuest II.

Industry Facts from Entertainment Software Association ESA

  • The average game player is 35 years old and has been playing games for 13 years.
  • The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is 40 years old.
  • Forty percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (33 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (18 percent).
  • In 2008, 26 percent of Americans over the age of 50 played video games, an increase from nine percent in 1999
  • Sixty-three percent of parents believe games are a positive part of their children’s lives.

GameBoy by Gary Hayes

Women Embrace Casual Games from RedHerring “Casual Gamers Anything But”

  • Spend as much as 20 hours each week playing their favorite games.
  • More than 70 percent said they play at night, and 58 percent have no children living at home.
  • Results from the Harris research reveal that 67 percent of the women over 40 who play games do so at least four times per week. Nearly half play every day.
  • Some 60 percent say they would rather play a casual game than talk on the phone or do projects around the home, while nearly 50 percent said they would rather play a casual game than go to a movie.

PDF report by Pew Internet. “Adults and Video Games”

  • More than half – 53% – of all American adults play video games of some kind
  • Independent of all other factors, younger adults are still more likely to play games.
  • Among older adults 65+ who play video games, nearly a third play games everyday, a significantly larger percentage than all younger players, of whom about 20% play everyday.
  • Gaming consoles are the most popular for young adults: 75% of 18-29 year old gamers play on consoles, compared with 68% who use computers
  • Computers are the most popular among the total adult gaming population, with 73% of adult gamers using computers to play games, compared with 53% console users, 35% who using cell phones, and 25% using portable gaming devices.

BBC 17 Sep 2008 “Online gamers are not unhealthy

  • The “couch potato” image of computer gamers is unfounded, with many in better than average shape, claim US researchers.
  • More than 7,000 players of the online game EverQuest II were quizzed about their health by scientists.
  • They found gamers’ body mass index (BMI) tended to be lower than the US average – with many taking “proper” exercise more than once a week.

Driving Force in Video Gaming: Women and Baby Boomers. Reported on PC World Aug 2008.  IBISWorld claims that:

  • 38 percent of US gamers are women
  • The average player is 35 years old
  • 24 percent are over 50.
  • The percentage of female video gamers climbed from 33 to 38 percent in five years bolstered in part by Nintendo’s Wii, but also “interactive group games” such as Singstar, Rock Band, and Lips, as well as The Sims, The Movies, Nintendogs and NeoPets.

Demographics of the top 3 games on Facebook – from Bret on Social Games

  • Scramble which is the only game among the top three developers dominated by women(63%).
  • The age of Zynga players is spread more evenly among the three age segments, but with ~50% in the 22-25 age bracket.
  • Blake Commagere’s Monsters games also have ~50% of their users in the 22-25 age bracket.
  • They also have a fairly even male-female ratio.

Second Life demographics and usage – reported by Lost in Bananaverse

  • 83.79% of the population is 25 years and older, and the older users spend far more time in Second Life than younger users
  • Females spent nearly twice as long online in Second Life as males. Females make up 45.5% of the Second Life population.
  • Total user hours for April totaled 29,069,684 hours
  • Those 45 and older continuing to be the heaviest users on average.
    • 45 and older: 70.17 hours per user per month
    • 35-44: 66.06 hours per user per user per month
    • 25-34: 55.55 hours per user per user per month
    • 18-24: 37.84 hours per user per user per month
    • Teen grid: 24.67 hours per user per user per month

The demographics of World of Warcraft (useful but old 2005 data from Nick Yee)

  • The average age of the WoW player is 28.3
  • 84% of players are male
  • 16% are female. Female players are significantly older (32.5) than male players (28.0)
  • On average, they spend 22.7 hours per week playing WoW.
  • There are no gender differences in hours played per week.

ESSENTIAL FACTS ABOUT THE COMPUTER AND VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY 2008 SALES, DEMOGRAPHIC AND USAGE DATA (full report from ESA at Scribd)

  • 13 is the average number of years adult gamers have been playing computer or video games. Among most frequent gamers, adult males average 15 years for game playing, females for 12 years.
  • 59% of gamers play games with other gamers in person. This is a rise from 56% in 2007 and from 51% in 2006.
  • The average age of the most frequent game purchaser is: 40
  • 56% of online game players are male 44% are female.
  • What is the One Type of Online Game Played Most Often?
    • 12% Other
    • 47% Puzzle/Board/Game Show/Trivia/Card
    • 16% Action/Sports/ Strategy/Role-Play
    • 14% Downloadable Games Such as Bejeweled and Diner Dash
    • 11% Persistent Multi-Player Universe

Women are hardcore gamers from bNet in 2006

  • Electronic Arts’ casual game site Pogo.com draws 11 million unique users per month. Fifty-five percent of those are women.
  • On the subscription side, 75 percent of the more than 1 million subscribers are women over the age of 35.

Study: Women Gamers Outnumber Men in 25-34 Age Group – from GameDaily 2006

  • Consumer Electronics Association study found that 65 percent of women in the 25-34 age bracket play video games, while only 35 percent of men in that group said that they play video games. The key factor involved with these findings is the increasing popularity of casual games, especially among women. (These casual titles are typically found on web portals like Yahoo!, AOL Games, PopCap Games, EA’s Pogo.com and elsewhere.)
  • Women were found to be slightly less likely than men in the 25-34 bracket to play traditional console games on systems like PlayStation  or Xbox.

Old (2000) but interesting item on ‘gender bending’ in games from womengamers.com

  • 6% of subjects play female characters for 25% or less of their gaming time
  • 24% play females for 26-50% of their gaming time
  • 15% play females for 51-75% of their gaming time
  • 42% play females for 76-100% of their gaming time
  • 12% did not answer this question
Jan 212009
 

We are well into 2009 and there is a lot of news popping about the likely growth of social virtual worlds and their adoption. As a tangent game based virtual worlds are also still in relative growth as covered in SMH’s post Video games thrash movies and DVD, referring to the shift in Australia and reflected in the rest of the world, of more money spent on interactive vs passive entertainment ” video games industry is now double the size of the box office and more than 40 per cent larger than the movie disc industry in Australia”.

But back to social virtual worlds and I have quickly mapped some dates and SVW events (most are recent) onto a slightly modified Gartner ‘hype cycle’ curve. For the uninitiated here is a brief wikipedia definition.

Since 1995, Gartner has used hype cycles to characterize the over-enthusiasm or “hype” and subsequent disappointment that typically happens with the introduction of new technologies. Hype cycles also show how and when technologies move beyond the hype, offer practical benefits and become widely accepted.

Gartner Hype Cycle SVW

Of course in reality we have really been through a sine wave quite a few times since 1987 through 2005 but since the relative maturity of services like Second Life, There and others true and robust applications are emerging, beyond the traditional ‘gamer/entertainment’ use. MUVED created a post a few weeks ago showing widespread investment in a range of niche virtual worlds and this trend is seemingly continuuing apace. Raymond de Villiers, CEO of Wisdom Games is very bullish about the use of these worlds for business communication in a post entitled Growth of Virtual Environment Expected in 2009…

Continue reading »

Jan 192009
 

A presentation I gave last month at the Online Networking and Business Collaboration conference. This is one of twenty or so I did on a similar topic (engaging with virtual world inhabitants and game players) through 2008. The presentation broadly looks at 4 key areas

  1. The Actual Audience – who they are, what their demo and psychographics are
  2. The Market – dominant players, investment, in world currency and evident holes in the marketplace
  3. Some key case studies – what has worked, how things could be improved and
  4. A little bit about branded entertainment futures and how Virtual worlds will be more ‘merged’ with TV, film and the 2D social web.

virtual_world_shopping_hayesCase studies included Best Buy, McDonalds, Nivea (Splinter Cell), MTV There, STA Travel, Fosters, Accenture, ABC, Intel, Jeep, Dodge, Habbo, Big Brother, Kelly Services, Gossip Girl, L Word, Football Superstars, Webkinz, Barbie Girls, Stardolls, BBC, blast theory,virtual office, club penguin, vside, little big planet, weblin, rocketon, imvu, ps3 home, second life (various including The Pond)
There are more presentations under the LAMP & Project Factory umbrella across social media, new form entertainment and virtual worlds at Gary’s slideshare account.

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