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NASA wants a MMOG

01.21.08

Recently NASA published a Request for Information for developing a massively multiplayer online game. The virtual world would be aimed at students and would “simulate real Nasa engineering and science missions”. According to the RFI, “A high quality synthetic gaming environment is a vital element of Nasa’s educational cyberstructure”. “The MMO will foster career exploration opportunities in a much deeper way than reading alone would permit and at a fraction of the time and cost of an internship program.”

According to the document, games are becoming more and more important in education and could be useful for teaching a range of skills. “Virtual worlds with scientifically accurate simulations could permit learners to tinker with chemical reactions in living cells, practice operating and repairing expensive equipment, and experience microgravity,” it says.

The document calls for a game engine that includes “powerful physics capabilities” that can “support accurate in-game experimentation and research”.

NASA is already present in Second Life, mainly aimed at interaction with interested students and scientists.

The deadline was 15 January so for those who would have been interested its too late i am afraid.

6 Business Models for the Metaverse

01.20.08

Digado wrote a very nice article about possible business models for Virtual Worlds. In short, those are

  • Inworld Economy: buying and selling virtual goods
  • Business Integration: conferences, meetings, brainstorms.
  • Brand Presence/Avartising: presenting your real life product, service or brand in a virtual world.
  • Content Creation: thats what we are doing :)
  • Services for Virtual Entrepreneurs: tools that make business in virtual worlds easier, like SLexchange and OnRez<
  • Create your own Virtual Environment: branded virtual worlds like Mattels Barbie Girls

Just thought it was a nice piece to share!

Teaching pupils with special need on the Teen Grid

01.17.08

For Waag Society [Lost in the] Magic Forest developed a complete island on the Second Life Teen Grid for the project Self City. The goal of this educational project has been to test a new method for teaching pupils of the Special Needs education branch from the age of 12-14. Many pupils have such a social-emotional or very light mental handicap, that they cannot function properly in a group. One of the goals of special education is to lead these youngsters back to regular education or a work situation. Most of the existing methods are not suitable for this group of pupils, as they are developed for groups.

We developed a complete city on the island with a movietheatre, (fake)gambling hall, basketballcourt and a Heads Up Display (HUD) to assist the pupils in their interaction (see screenshots). The scientific findings of the new teaching method in Second Life have been gathered in this report (Dutch only): Research Report Self City

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Virtual theft punished by Dutch police!

11.14.07

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Now thats interesting, the first arrest for virtual theft is a fact back here in the Netherlands. Five Dutch teenagers have been jailed because they stole for about 4000 euro of virtual goods in Habbo Hotel. The virtual criminals hacked the account of other residents and moved the virtual furniture to their own rooms. Virtual burglary, in that sense!

Curious what will happen, will a judge send them to a virtual jail? However, interesting to see that the police is treating virtual goods like real goods, makes sense of course…

Virtual worlds on the updated hype cycle

10.31.07

Every year Gartner updates the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, included the newest technological trends and developments. A few months ago Gartner published the Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2007. Interesting to see that according to Gartner web2.0 is already passed its hype (but this may be due to the typical 18-24 month lag between the U.S. and Europe).

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Gartner identifies three key technologies:

  • Web 2.0: The community, technology and business innovations of the web continue to evolve and specific approaches and technologies have progressed including wikis, mashups, enterprise RSS, social network analysis and collective intelligence. The product and platform underpinnings have been more tightly defined in the 2007 hype cycle, with entries for web platforms and Web 2.0 workplace technologies.
  • User Interfaces: A number of emerging user interface technologies are entering serious commercialisation, including electronic paper (for mobile devices and signage), gesture recognition (as incorporated in the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Surface) and virtual environments/virtual worlds (such as Second Life).
  • Mobile: Mobile and wireless technologies, devices, and services continue to be an active area for emerging technology groups.

According to the Priority Matrix (see below), ten of the 36 key emerging technologies examined in this year’s hype cycle have been designated as having a transformational business impact and should be strongly considered for adoption by technology planners in the next ten years. These ten includes virtual environments:

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I had the strong feeling that the virtual worlds are passed its hype, but actually perhaps Gartner has a point here. Its Second Life that perhaps blinds us a bit in our ‘post hype depression’ while indeed the whole spectrum of virtual environments is still not over its peak. And they define ‘portable personality’ as still in its early stage, presuming this also includes the whole thing with interportability of avatars and profiles this is indeed something that only just now is starting to develop with quite a big technology push of companies like IBM and Philips. What I think is interesting is to look at all those new technologies that are now starting to develop in the ’slipstream’ of Second Life. Mashups with television, widgets in virtual worlds, mobile services for virtual environments (or the other way around), etc….

Wheelchairrace, anyone?

10.09.07

The Dutch Fund for Sports for Handicapped (actually I have no idea if this is the right translation) offers a wheelchairrace! So,  take your wheelchair out and see who can roll the fastest!

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Virtual Worlds Landscape

10.09.07

Bumped into a nice map of the virtual world landscape. Based on criteria of Business, Entertainment, Social and Game, Fred Cavazza made an inventarisation of the virtual worlds. I like it because it sort of nicely categorizes the different worlds out there, at least based on their most important features. Ofcourse one can argue that for example WoW is also a strong social environment, so its just a good overview. Additions are welcome ofcourse!

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Italian music video set in Second Life, but i dont speak Italian!

09.14.07

So here we have a music video of an Italian singer. The poor girl wanders around in Second Life, it all looks quite dramatic but hey, I dont speak Italian! Can someone help me translate this??  The band seems quite popular in Italy, she’s 16th in the popcharts!  Would this be the first ‘crossreality’ music machinima?

ING Asia asks residents for new logo

09.06.07

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Well, a new logo for their inworld Cha-Lounge. Earlier this week I was on “Our Virtual Holland” for one of our projects. Our Virtual Holland is the collection of sims with which Dutch ING Bank has established their presence in Second Life since the beginning of this year. I bumped into a group of residents voting on a variety of logo’s. Now it seems that ING Asia/Pacific started their own lounge here, the ING Virtual Cha Lounge (”Cha” meaning “tea” in many Asian languages. According to their website it will “be a place you and your friends can hang out and share a cup or two, learn more about cha, and even get a free cha gift”.  They started a logo contest for residents, where you can design the logo for the Cha Lounge and win a bunch of prizes (L$100,000, a framed certificate of appreciation from ING, signed by the judging committee, a tea collection and publication of the logo in ING blogs and newsletters). A nice example of involving the community i would say…

World Trend Map

09.04.07

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Ok, its a bit old news for some of us. But I just had mine delivered home, a nice big A2 version of the World Trend Map by Information Architects Japan. The 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective. A nice piece of work, stick it on the wall and stare at it…

A nice clickable online version can be found here.

Kaneva about Kaneva

08.30.07

 Virtual World News published a very interesting interview with Christopher Klaus, CEO of Kaneva about the presence and future of Kaneva. Some key points I picked up:

  • Kaneva’s vision from the beginning is about online creativity
  • Combining an MMOG platform into social networking and integrating together media, people, and the 2D structure of a social network into the 3D environment
  • based on shared spaces (hangouts) or private  spaces
  • building blocks provided but no 3D modeling and texturing tools
  • 18-34 age range and about 50/50 male and female
  • casual games will be incorporated
  • integrating rich media possibilities
  • revenues from microtransactions and virtual goods

Klaus about interportability (more…)

Catching up with some recent news…

08.27.07

We have been away for a few days because of our visit to the Sarajevo Film Festival (yes we also produce old-school feature films), so now back in town! Some interesting news items I encountered the past days:

Business Week published an excellent article about Second Life, which for me was quite a relief after all the biased bad publicity of recent months. Mitch Wagner writes: (more…)

Dutch research shows strategic advantage for businesses

08.21.07

Recent research of the University of Utrecht on why companies establish in virtual worlds showed that Dutch companies feel they have a strategic advantage on competitors. Also they find themselves innovative and feel it gives them a better insight in the behaviour and preferences of tomorow’s customers.

At this moment, at least 34 Dutch organizations and brands are active in Second Life, 29 participated in the research. Almost half of them have a background in media or services. The participants expected to gain a first movers advantage above competitors and made them more innovative. Next to this,  contact, communication and curiousity are other reasons for virtual presence. Dutch companies also work a lot togethe and prefer to cluster their activities (like on ING Banks Our Virtual Holland). Budgets ranged from 2000 - 30000 euro.

The pressrelease can be found here (in Dutch though)

Big bucks for virtual worlds and online games

08.17.07

Now we see that the hype around Second Life seems to have calmed down a bit,  new startups are being put in the spotlights. For the last period of time new virtual worlds like Awomo, Doppelganger and Twinity seemed to get quite some media attention.  And not only that, also some big bucks. Awomo welcomed Sir Richard Branson as sugar uncle, aiming at 1 billion valuation, Doppelganger received several rounds of financing from venture capitalists, online gaming developer Trion announced 30million, Multiversed raised 4 million. Next to this, one can clearly see that big media companies are taking position in this industry. Disney took over Club Penguin for 350 million (+350 when targets are met) and MTV is planning to invest 500 million the coming 2 years in gaming (after their announcement to invest 100 million in online games and virtual worlds).

So it seems we will see an overload of virtual workds and online casual games the coming time, where big media companies buy into startups and new initatives in order to stay close to markets they obviously have a hard time tapping into themselves. Hope it wont make another internet bubble..



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