Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My virtual life

With all the time I spent talking about virtual reality communities like Second Life, ARGs (Alternate Reality Games), and MMORPGs (pronounced morpegs) as well as the time I spent on Friday afternoon in Habbo Hotel, I no longer feel a virtual reality virgin!

So first off, there was the excellent NMK event on virtual reality communities, ARGs and MMORPGs which really was food for thought. We explored everything from early text based games, discussed the difference between virtual games and virtual worlds (plot vs space to create), and the latest in ARGs from the likes of PerplexCity.

Michael who heads up PerplexCity took us through a virtual journey and showed us examples:
World of Warcraft (which is massive 21.7m entries on google) and Huxley

Second Life, Habbo Hotel and Korea's Cyworld (where 90% of Koreans aged 16 to 24 have logged on and where $300k a day is spent on virtual stuff) and has now launched in the US

Webkinz, which is where tamagotchi meets Ty beanie babies - you buy a plush pet, it has a unique ID, enter the ID on the website and you're in the virtual world as that plush pet

Test Drive Unlimited, which sounded a bit like Trackmania which I worked on 3 years ago and although I don't generally like driving games, I could really see the appeal of Trackmania because of the element of sharing and racing on each others racetracks

Naughty America The Game which is out soon is the 'adult' version of virtual reality which looks like virtual swinging to me from the home page!

The Nokia Game which started well, but fizzled out.

Virtual Laguna Beach from MTV which is a virtual spin-off from the TV show

All in all, a really good intro to the virtual space.

If you're interested to know more about what went on during the day, then check out Jemima Kiss's round up on Paidcontent.org and also Tom Hume's postings from the various sessions on Second Life, Esther's academic viewpoint (and the full paper can be found here), Michael's intro, Tom's thoughts on it all.

Virtual networking at Habbo Hotel

So with all that in mind, when I was invited to a virtual networking event to celebrate the launch of the new mobileYouth report, I could hardly say no. So I toddled along and met the other 'oldies' in the MY hotel room and experienced Habbo Hotel first hand. Firstly, it was a bit weird working out how your avatar moved around. Then when everyone's in the room and talking at the same time it could be confusing. Also, you couldn't have any one2one side conversations with anyone (or at least if you could, I didn't work out how) which at a normal networking event is exactly what happens. Still, I got to chat to the W2F team, Tomi Ahonen, and a couple of folks from AOL and a fair few other members - some of whom I'd met recently at Swedish Beers (a real life networking event).

Because it's browser based, Habbo Hotel is more accessible than most virtual worlds. But it does mean there are limitations such as the conversations aren't stored for long enough so it can be tricky to keep track of a thread. And you keep being 'bobbed'. There are certain words that automatically get moderated and replaced with 'bob'. As in 'hi te...bob...bob..the....bob...s.....t'. We got used to that fairly early on. We also got thrown out of the room a few times which was annoying, but I gues that's a technical issue.

I did enjoy the session and a big-up to the mobileYouth guys for trying it. I can see a virtual environment could work as a discussion space for projects or for learning. Trouble is, as it's computer based, you've also got your email and MSN running, your landline and your mobile's going and you've got t'internet which means there are a *lot* of distractions. You think you can multi-task but you can't really - it needs focus for you to get anything out of it. As the saying goes, you get out of something what you put in. And this is certainly true for virtual networking. Still, I think it's worth exploring further. Screenshots, courtesy of Jan, are here on flickr.

Links added 2 Nov 2006

Jan's write up of Habbo Hotel Session is here.

And check out Roo Reynolds, Mike Butcher and Broadstuff for their take on the NMK event.


  1. Anonymous8:07 am GMT


    Picked up your link to my blog on Broadstuff, so thought I'd respond :).

    I enjoyed the 2nd Life event, though there is a darker (OK, more venal side) to it which didn't really come out in the hoopla - I have blogged about here.

  2. Hi Alan

    Thanks for commenting and for the link. I think the whole tax thing is *very* interesting...


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