Thursday, October 7, 2010

Too much coffee

So this is my second post in one day which means I really have had too much coffee.  Anyway straight to the point.  I read an interesting article on Dusan Writers blog about why he believed LL isn't about to sell.  One of the rumours floating about lately has been that Microsoft have been making overtures into buying Second Life.  Dusan said something that got my mind going though.  He spoke about investors or buyers potentially having a user base of their own to combine with SL.  Here is what I wrote on Dusans blog...


"Really interesting post Dusan and something you said made me start thinking. I will preface a bit, many of my friends play video games regularly and most do so online. They play against people from around the world and often use voice. But there is no real social environment for this. I also read a while back that the video game market has surpassed Hollywood in revenue. I remember reading that in one month World of Warcraft made more than the entire run of the first Iron Man movie. So when you mentioned Microsoft as a partner who could bring in existing users to SL as a product, then it made me think of XBOX live. This might be fantasy daydreaming but imagine taking online gaming to the next level where you don’t just go online when you want to play, but rather live in a social environment like SL and combine that with the opportunity to play while there. Combine the social aspects that SL has mastered with the massive appeal of online gaming. I could almost envision my groups of friends horsing around in the virtual environment for hours before deciding to play XBOX games or whatever. I don’t know if I am explaining myself very well, but rather than separating being online only when you want to play a game, to being online regularly in a virtual world built to accomodate the successful elements that already exist in sl, (relationships, user creativity etc) with the mass appeal of social online gaming that currently has no real social atmosphere to hang out in. Anyway just a thought."

Then I began daydreaming a bit more and started to see some more connections.  So here are a few more things.  When my friends play games the games themself often have elements where you bling up your character.  So for example in Tiger Woods golf they buy new shirts and shoes and stuff.  In other games they unlock logos or emblems to put on their character.  I asked once whats the big deal in unlocking those logos and they told me they do nothing at all they are just cosmetic things.  So that means players just like to dress up their characters.  SL lets you dress up too in a big way.  I could see people going shopping with friends or alone more like RL for these same additions but in the Second Life economy rather than by the game itself.  Another thing is that with mesh it would not be too difficult to use our SL avatars in any game the Xbox makes.  It would just be sticking the golf swing animations into our avatars instead and letting us upload them to the game.  Not rocket science.
     If you go to the video game store near to you then you will see that PC games are relegated to a tiny sliver of space now with Playstation, Wii and Xbox ruling.  Makes no sense because none of them can compete with the raw computing power or graphics of a good PC.  What is killing PC games slowly is that they are solitary.  You play alone at  your PC where the other consoles are social.  There are up to four players unless you link up more and then you are all in the same room or you can use the internet to link up.  So I think the social aspect is extremely strong and will trump pure graphics and quality.  SL is if anything a social platform.
     Another thing is that apparently gamers are not kids.  They are adults with money with a huge chunk in the range of 30-40 year olds.  SL already is mostly adults and business, educators etc, so combining a new user group that already has money to a functioning economy sounds like a good idea to me.
If the future of humanity is going to include a virtual world which is an integral part to everyday life, then I could totally see combining these two things right now.

Here are a few things Dusan said that I have taken from his blog....

- There are two things that will drive the valuation of Second Life. First, it’s a social media platform. It connects people. Key to this is that when it connects people, it does so at a level of engagement that can’t be matched.
- Second, it has the largest virtual goods market in the world. Virtual goods are the future and we see it with Zynga and we see it in the fact that the market has grown to exceed a billion dollars.
- As a social media platform with a large virtual goods market, we’re sitting on gold. The problem is, we need more users. And in order to get more users, we need to get more people in and we need to make that fast and easy to do.


Another thing I have often wondered is when the first video game star would arrive.  Right now people watch the worlds top athletes perform on TV.  We cant really associate with them because we are average human beings with normal genetics.  They are separate from us in that they are generally way out of our league in ability.  We can't really associate with them.  But in the video game world I think we could all be a bit closer in skill, which then should make it more appealing.  Training involves buying the game and playing it. When someone beats you in a game you can appreciate their skill on a first hand basis because you understand the skills needed to succeed.  Its no longer abstract and unattainable.  But how could someone become a video game superstar? first you would need a venue with enough users to hype the results worldwide.  That's what SL could be.  It has around 1 million users log in each month and if you combined those users with the online video game population you suddenly have a market where video game sport could thrive.  To be a recognizable star in video games you need to stand out with a character that is distinguishable from all the other competitors.  The nature of SL as a creative economy allows for just that, and if you cant buy the look you want then make it yourself or commission it.  Ok I can't blog all day.  I am actually going to see Ronnie Burkett tonight who is a brilliant Marionettist? puppeteer?   Look him up and go see him if you ever have the chance he is amazing.
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