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

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
Nov 052008
 

…and a little end of 2008 Virtual Worlds, State of Play… it has been suggested several times recently that games & social virtual worlds especially will really suffer in this economic downturn and may not survive. Which leads to the point of this post to put things in a little perspective.

IS THERE REAL INVESTMENT?

First lets look at investor confidence in them. From Virtual Worlds Management Reports there was $1 billion US invested in 35 virtual world companies between Oct 06-07 – and since Oct 07 to the present day there has already been $918 million trusted to the success of this particular industry. This breaks down roughly as:

  • Q3 08 – $148.5 million invested in 12 VW companies
  • Q2 08 – $161 million in 16 VW companies
  • Q1 08 – $184 million in 23 VW companies
  • Q4 07 – $425 million in 15 VW companies

Continue reading »

May 122007
 

NOTE: Based on my sticky post ‘The Brand Owners Guide to Joining the Metaverse“.

As promised a rough transcript of my keynote talk to CeBit last week based on my experience of actually building some Second Life sims, talking to those who use them and creating branded environments that have more usage than any others inworld, so far. There will be a video and/or podcast at some point from CeBit TV but for now lots of ‘nice’ words and this YouTube video I uploaded…


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Jun 202006
 

…and the never changing human.

Senor Hontar: “We must work in the world. The world is thus.”
Father Altamirano: “No Senor Hontar…thus have we made the world. Thus have I made it”
Final lines of the film ‘The Mission’

There have been several events this week that have focused my attention on the nature of immersion. Within AFTRS and LAMP I have been giving presentations to traditional storytellers and filmmakers about cross-media alternatives to the linear ‘tale’. I have also been preparing to chair the Mobile Content World Australasia next week while today I saw a great presentation from Philip Brophy on “Sexual Robots and Plastic Humans in Anime” – and I have been getting further into the rabbit holes of Second Life (SL) and World of Warcraft (WoW). Now this combination of things has drawn me into trying to answer the age old question of “What defines an immersive service”, why do some experiences keep people hooked until the wee hours, why is TV, particularly getting a bad rap, why films in cinema have a level of ‘temporal’ engagement and why games (especially Mass Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games MMORPGs) keep you entranced. This post may turn into the usual stream of conciousness – but hey thats the wonderful world of blogs. Lets look at some stats before I go any further.

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May 122006
 

Second Life ARGOk the title sounds a little ‘space cadet’ and paradoxical but bear with me on this one because the implications go way beyond the focus of this post which is a quick orientation and guide to non-scripted but organised ‘social play’ inside a virtual world and a great way to plan a Real World Alternate Reality Game – or run a special form one inside the vr world. As you may have read on my previous post “The Personalization of Second Life” there are a few shared, virtual spaces that are infinitely personalizable and customisable. Second Life is the leader in this area and so has become the focus of many activities that require represention – a sort of ‘real as it gets’ for doing real world-type things in – a place to create something representing the real world, our physical world. (As a tangent I personally believe we need to move towards creating new and non-representations of our real world as most folk in SL tend to midly enhance their RL existences, build precise replicas of the first life or a few enlightened ones are planning singularity! – I will not go into that rabbit hole as I posted about the Human 2.0 upgrade a few months ago).

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