Jan 152009
 

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’

As well as the increase in venture capital investment across all virtual worlds, the time spent in them, measured in user hours, is growing too. While this is partly due to existing users spending longer it is often the about the typical new user who after the initial log-in hurdles becomes highly engaged for 3-18 months or longer with a particular personally resonant virtual world service. Virtual worlds that offer something beyond mall-like activities (PS3Home springs to mind) or just a glorified chat channel (there are quite a few in this category) will obviously increase engagement. The personalization factor, to make the virtual space YourSpace either by customising other community members work or by creating it from scratch yourself, naturally increases your personal investment. Second Life has always been about Your World and one of the major driving factors is aspirational lifestyle and peer appraisal.

We partly escape, we are often out to impress, we love the control but most importantly we like to co-create and communicate with those we like on our terms and in areas we make.

Increase in User Engagement Second Life

Linden Lab who run Second Life have just published figures looking at 2008 and as in several presentations I have been giving around the world, it shows that SL and other worlds are far more ‘sticky’ than traditional 2D social networks such as Facebook and MySpace. From the Linden Lab (second life creators) Blog:

Second Life Residents logged nearly 400 million hours in 2008, growing 61% over 2007
Thursday, January 15th, 2009 at 12:33 PM by: Zee Linden

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Oct 122008
 

OK you may have spotted quite a few characters living on this post 🙂 Originally there were ‘video-real’ talking, salesy character centered on the page courtesy of CLIVEvideo but I still talk about them more below.

A few months ago I blogged over in personalizemedia about the new kid on the intranet block, those ‘layered’ social virtual worlds. Quite simply they are communities of pseudo 3D avatars layered over the 2D web (browsers). I noted that these services are a transition to a ‘live’ collaborative web 3.0 world as this is more of a “let them dip their toes in” before committing to a higher bandwidth, more fully rendered 3D world such as many of those on my sticky video of the 08 metaverse.

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Sep 082008
 

As part of a commercial report on the evolving range of social virtual worlds I recently ventured into fifty plus worlds to sample the creative, business and educational potential. My video is an indicative capture of each world/environment as a seven minute video for 2008 posterity. It demonstrates how ubiquitous, popular and streamlined many of these spaces are becoming across the intraweb / ‘cloud’. With over 300 million frequenting or registering for the non-game based worlds over $900 million of new investment last year in 2nd and 3rd generation services there seems to be no stopping them.

75MB MP4 Download available at http://www.justvirtual.com/SVWS_2008.mp4

A few immediate things that struck me on my travels:

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Jan 032008
 

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Virtual Worlds Necessitate Corporations Develop Personality followed by Gary’s top 15 tips to becoming human in the metaverse (and 2D socio-nets).

I have been doing a lot of work moving brands, properties and companies into Second Life recently and in the process I am often forcibly reminded of the divide that naturally exists, in these new worlds, between ‘the corporation’ on one hand and ‘the individual/community’ on the other. The 3D Virtual World is being used in many ways by the natives (aka the public, a bad definition I know), living out their fantasies in a very chaotic but social way. In strong contrast to that we have companies who are naturally bland, characterless, faceless and in the worse cases anti-social.

American Apparel

It is not all bad as we are seeing something very positive emerging and being played out as both sides manouver and become better aligned. We are also seeing the next phase as the early mistakes pull out and leave the new entrants to learn from those errors. So I have collected some of my thoughts below on how companies need to approach the development of their personality.

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Oct 122007
 

From the Telstra media release 9 March 2007

“BigPond enters “Second Life” virtual world – BigPond today launched Australia’s first major corporate presence in the online virtual world, Second Life, with the unveiling of ‘The Pond’. The Pond features islands with uniquely Australian themes and recreations of iconic Australian landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, the Outback and Uluru. On the islands, ‘avatars’, the 3D virtual characters that people create to represent themselves in Second Life, can enjoy a range of activities including car racing, scuba diving and ice skating. At The Pond, avatars can socialise, join communities with shared interests, go shopping together at The Dome Shopping Mall, and even go dancing at the Illusion Club. They can take a boat trip or relax and have a drink in the Outback Billabong Bar. The 3D nature of Second Life enables full participation – so avatars won’t just look at the Sydney Harbour Bridge, they’ll climb it…This project was developed and produced by Gary Hayes…”

Built very quickly over 5 weeks in Jan/Feb 2007 and launched in March 2007, it was within months the most popular branded group sims in Second Life.

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Dec 122006
 

The Relentless March of Channels and Formats into Second Life

bb 07

Rather than just referring to the many standard press articles about the growing number of companies or formats that are setting up in Second Life (the media’s favourite MUVE at the moment) I have been ‘living it’ so to speak. My inworld blog JustVirtual provides an inworld perspespective, my avatars POV, of close encounters with the outside world’s ‘brand immigrants’. They are indeed seen that way by many residents, not disimilar to any alien brand entering a real ‘developing’ world. The recent companies include NBC, Philips Design, IBM, Reuters, Endemol and others that suggest that the next generation of entrants are moving in, with a far more robust and serious vision than the first wave who were just pushing product.

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