Wagner James Au Online world Journalist/Blogger, New World Notes/nwn.blogs.com
Robin Hunicke Lead Designer, Electronic Arts
Robert Scoble Evangelist, PodTech.net
Susan Wu Charles River Ventures
Is Neal Stephenson’s “metaverse” here, and is it the Net’s next generation — or just a glorified game? Once gamer-only turf, 3D virtual worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft are now attracting millions of players– and millions of dollars from corporations, academia/non-profits, and government agencies, interested in the marketing, research, and prototyping possibilities. Is this the future of the Internet, and if so, where do we go from here?
Wagner: some examples – Rupture=WoW plus MySpace. create a social world that sits on top of the MMO, could be an identity placeholder. CyWorld, 18m accounts, 90% of South Koreans under 30 have an account and log in daily. have an identity and an avatar. SL – lots of mashups with HUD and web data. eg a digg ratings tool for objects, can track what people like, there are others with places. Twitter is in SL as well, with twitter huds.
Robert: Twitter is like the doubling penny; twitter was doubling in size every month.there’s a lot of things that are doubling. SL does not have a large audience but it is the doubling effect that is interesting. There are some principles that I look for, that I am attracted too. The audience knows a lot, there;s more SL knowledge in audience than in the panel. when the audience is smarter, things get better. on the book, we sent it to the audience before the editors and we got it grammar checked and fact checked. and we got better product than if we had sent it straight to the editors. and it makes people own it and they start being an evangelists. that attracted me and my some to SL, he was building things very quickly getting adept. Families want to work together with their kids, they want t build together, my some took to it faster than I ever could so, one principle can your audience can get involved and extend the world. And encouraging that game companies getting into it, letting users build stuff, ie Sony Home world. Different to WOW where you cannot build. the other interesting thing was the physical architecture..each island was a linux blade user, which could hold around 50 or so. compared to the centralised worlds, the would can grow out. the early behaviour was interesting, people would try for a small , but it was boring. but the business model is dragging people back, I can sell things and monetise it. I can get people to come back in the system and there is a profit motive for me as a content producer to get people there. OUtback, an australian world, is coming out later this year. one problem is that people think it is just software and they can cone it. but it is not, what makes propel interesting is the people that are involved. Twitter was seen as lame as there was no one to talk to, once you have the the people it becomes interesting. it is a way to interact with friends. it is the audience with the technology..and thats what is interesting. I hang out and build stuff with Eric Rice, we can share together even if not in same place. So outback is attractive as they may be able to fit more people in, but need the people. Outback could 10000 people on one world.
Susan: on P2P you are not going to have an item based business model?
Wagner: Robins works on EA, SIMS.
Robin: in approaching MySIm i thought a lot about user interaction, and what people could bring into the game. it;s a user created experience, we have designers that will be in the world but you can customise. games are strongest when you can be the designer. Thinking about the panel, I wonder if web2 to 3d would be a good thing and I’m not sure. I wanted to think about my user experience. I like being able to find things differently, so not sure. If you had unlimited bandwidth what would you do? Combining all the worlds; as a content provider it would be awesome if they could deliver the focused experiences and open it up to creativity. it would be a lot of realities, 3d could be awesome to share everything. but the constraints are the aesthetics, constraints are not obvious, so what kinds of constraints should we be thinking. in WOW there is a lot of UI, In RL, we do not see everything, so would a 3d would be more real if you could not see anything. Look at the wii, it is simple people think things will work that the right thing will happen and that is about removing all the clutter. in this reality, every user is a designer. think about the time streams – can a user parse all of this. look at the costs…look at how many servers run to run the worlds – think about the energy costs. i like that we are always in augmented reality. 3d is possible but is it right. why would we go 3d, why are we not thinking about small lightweight techs that allow presence and not just want to create everything again in RL.
Robin – looking at gender difference, it could be culture whether girls go to consoles or creative stuff. do we want to solve the current problems, or do we think about the experience our kids will have. I have a lot of benefits from this world, but not a lot of other people do.
Susan; we as a tech society see tech as the solution.
Robert: eric talks about story creation, about an online story experience with the 3d tools.
Susan: yesterday we talked about avatars, it changes the experience to being an interactive narrative. it changes the perception, the skills about game design and relevant to product design
Susan: lets not male assumptions about 3d; in next 3-5 years every media is going to be building a 3d world. looking at SL and deciding that that is the model. it;s a misinformed model. studying how people are evolving online. 1st. information sharing to interaction (2.0) so to me 3.0 is immersion. the cognitive barriers between peoples online and offline lives are dissipating. everything we do onine is real. we need ot create products that create better online engagement. 10 years ago, a text MUD was really real to me, i had an immersive time there. what is hitting our brains is the content and the stuff we add on top help with engagement or detract from them..the text based MUD is when I had the most immersive environment. Nw. MySpace is an MMO, same kind of interactions. Gaia is web2.1 – interaction with avatars, text that evolved into a rich community then with a graphical layer on top. Telp, Flixter, we make transition from web page to web place. we will demand more emotional engaging, more immersive, more emotional experiences. so is 3d the answer..it;s just a tool, not appropriate for all situations, there are different ways t think about presence, such as social or collaborative presence. my BlogLog is 3d social presence. Twitter is 3d social presence, you can feel you are part of some greater environment. do all virtual worlds look fully 3d. things can be simpler,. webkinnz etc. A recent study looks at factors in immersion – 1 was role engagement, its about storyline and engagement. last on the list was physical presence. average player is 22 hrs a week in environment. But now, kids are far more comfortable living online than we are different understanding of time, identify and place. brain plasticity makes it impossible to predict the future.
Wagner: about environ friendly…having virtual worlds may reduce travel. IBM use the world for meetings. Avatars help with the meeting dynamics.
Robin – getting avatars to emote is extremely difficult
Robert – there is an architect teaching in SL, can build models.
Robin – when you can build a structure, you have an analogy, Matt brown, a designer, says be aware of the obvious example, so architecture in 3d is easy, IBM meetings may not be right. I hear a lot of ‘that will never work’ so what works for our kids what makes them more whole?
Susan: twitter demonstrates that texting allows connections.
Q: can transportation be reduced from virtual worlds.
Robert: hearing it for 20 years that computers will reduce travel.
Robin: I have to do some travels..I travel way more because of games etc.
Q: immersion in the narrative; I fascinated about how you understand what people do with sport; it connects people on one level. what is you advice on building a NFL community online.
Robin: you need to understand the relationships; what role does team play in your daily lives. need to understand that relationship before can give advice
Robert: i like hanging in tailgate parties, so help with that?
Robin: let people share their expressions.
Q: meetings conferences etc has drawn me to virtual worlds. where do you see SL going, eg with voice. companies etc.
Wagner: numbers of SL predicted around 3m next year (assume can scale). companies are having to struggle for relevance, most people are ignoring this. Electric sheep L Word island, where people can watch it is doing well, one of the few. we will see more small communities emerge.
Q: interesting in conversion between desktop and console based worlds. open vs closed worlds. can’t take characters worlds.
Robert: xbox team did not see a market, console is not a precision experience, consoles are distant.
Robin: console is about relaxing, hanging out, far more social less precise and tweaky than pc experience. control is different between the 2. we are going to have problems as designers and users. we need to look at what aesthetics are and do as much as possible without all the clutter.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.