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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

selfcity.jpg

selfcity_sl_hud.jpg


Duran Duran Second Life Machinima

01.09.08

For the Duran Duran‘Falling Down’ Video Mash-Up Challenge” a machinima movie has been shot in Second Life. It’s a great video that contains shots of the official video for the track as well as artwork of the new album. If you look closely you will see familiar places in Second Life such as Extropia Core, Maya, MetaXpand and many others. Check out the video below:

Oh and if you look closely you might recognise me as well :)

Virtual theft punished by Dutch police!

11.14.07

virtualtheft.jpg

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).

gartner2007.jpg

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:

gartner_priority_matrix_emerging__3.png

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!

rolstoelrace_001.bmp

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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Audio from the Virtual Worlds Session@PICNIC Amsterdam

10.05.07

Thanks to my collegue Frank, here after all the audio of the Virtual Worlds Session

Some notes after the Virtual Worlds Session@PICNIC Amsterdam

10.04.07

Last week I was part of a panel discussion about virtual worlds at PICNIC in Amsterdam. PICNIC is one of the biggest cross media events/seminars in Europe with a very impressing lineup (ranging from Mr Sir Richard Branson to yoga guru and activist Woody Harrelson).

We recorded the audio for an nice podcast but it seems the output from the audio mixer was far too low. I will try to fix the audio, but let me just share my notes:

Jack Myers, author of the book “Virtual Worlds: Rewiring Your Emotional Future” talking about how Virtual Worlds are becoming an embedded part of our culture. Jack discussed how marketeers unfortunately try to bring their traditional marketing models into a changing media landscape. He stated that those marketeers need to rethink what they are doing and come up with new models for marketing, with a much more customer approach. Marketeers, CEO’s and other decision makers are in that sense confused and overwhelmed by the new media opportunities but are not changing their scope. This has leaded to marketing and branding initiatives in virtual worlds that focussed on experimenting and learning but not actually implementing and making true emotional connections with a community. Jack pointed out the importance of understanding virtual worlds and stressed that particularly virtual worlds for tweens offer huge opportunities. This age group is growing up with virtual worlds, online and serious games and online communities, which demands a radical reorientation for marketeers.

You can download Jack’s presentation here

David Burden of Daden discussed what happens when video games meet Web 2.0 and virtual worlds meet geospatial maps of the planet? David discussed the Metaverse Roadmap and stressed that the internet is mainly about Information where virtual worlds are much more about Experience. The ROI should therefore be more defined along the lines of creating experience and engaging your audience. David also showed some interesting forcast stating we will be moving from a media/social space to a transaction space, a entertainment space and ultimately into and agent space and a dream space.

Download Davids presentation here

After these two presentations there was a panel discussion (more…)

Platform virtual worlds launched in the Netherlands

10.03.07

 A few days ago a new initiative was launched in the Netherlands called Platform Virtuele Werelden (Platform Virtual Worlds). Its an initiative of EPN, a Dutch research institute and has the goal to gain and spread knowledge about virtual worlds and its possibilities to companies, governments, media and a wide audience in general. Also they strive to define and understand the meaning of virtual worlds and 3d spaces to society.

The platform is formed by a consortion of companies and universities, including Technical University Delft, University of Amsterdam, University of Twente, Erasmus University Rotterdam, ING Bank, ABN AMRO Bank, Philips and the City of Zoetermeer.

A very good initiative showing that virtual worlds are taken seriously and that those major institutes and companies were not blinded by the post-hype depression we seemed to be in the past few months.  ;)

Metaverse 1.0: Setting the standards

09.18.07

Last week I spoke with Jean Gelissen, Senior Director Strategic Partnerships at Philips Research about the Metaverse 1.0 project. I have combined the notes of this meeting with the information I took from the project presentation.

Metaverse 1.0 is a project developed within the framework of ITEA, a strategic pan-European programme for advanced pre-competitive R&D in software for Software-intensive Systems and Services. Metaverse 1.0 has the purpose to set global standards among real and virtual worlds and bridging the gaps within virtual worlds and between virtual and real worlds.

Metaverse 1.0 is an initiative of Yesha Sivan, an Israelean entrepreneur and professor at the Tel Aviv University. Metaverse 1.0 is pushed by the Metaverse 1.0 consortium, which includes over 40 participants of large and small/medium enterprises as well as several research institutes and universities from 8 participating countries. Among the participants are Philips Research, Philips Design, Forthnet, Alcatel-Lucent, Telefonica I&D, Siemens IT, Barco, Geosim Systems Ltd., Technical University Eindhoven, Utrecht University, Technical University of Twente, Fraunhofer Rostock, Nazuka and Bertelsmann. IBM will also be involved in the next phases.

The Metaverse1.0 project will provide a standardized global framework enabling the interoperability between Virtual worlds (as for example Second Life, World of Warcraft, IMVU, Google Earth and many others) and the Real world (sensors, actuators, vision and rendering, social and welfare systems, banking, insurance, travel, real estate and many others). Currently the consortium is also talking to ISO, the International Organization of Standardisation. (more…)

Sony Home @ E-Day Rotterdam (incl video of the beta version)

09.15.07

In the past months we have already been able to get some insight in Sony’s coming virtual world Home. It seems they will launch Home somewhere around 14 October. On 13 September, Folkert Langeveld, marketing Manager Playstation Benelux, gave a presentation about Home at E-Day in Rotterdam (where we are based btw!) and gave us some more details.

Home will be completely in HD, free of use for PS3 users and mainly focused on interaction, gaming and competition. Home will offer a game room where residents can play minigames and a variety of public spaces like a cinema where film and trailers s in HD will be screened. Also, residents will have their own private apartments they can decorate themselves with a variety of (preset) objects. Residents can launch and download PS games from within Home and play against eachother. In Home, residents wiill have a PSP that they can use to control their environment, change your looks and upload pictures from your harddrive to hang them on the wall of your virtual apartment.

Langeveld pointed out that Home will be a controlled environment. As for now, there is not so much users can create themselves, even though he pointed out that “the creation of games is more and more influenced by the users and users will have more and more influence on the games”.

Sony is planning connect offline sales to the online world. Think of buying clothing in a fysical shop that has a barcode attached, with which it can be brought into the virtual world. Sony will allow external brands to advertise within Home and to offer custom and sponsored events. Residents can buy products through the PS Store and Sony is considering to offer a consumer-to-consumer marketplace in Home.

With millions of sales of the previous game consoles Sony ofcourse has a potential great user base for Home. By bringing together games, film and music in a social environment, this could just very well boost the sales of the console but moreover of the games they’re going to offer for download. The graphics and movements look amazing, so this will be tough competition for Second Life and the likes. The fact that it will be a very much controlled environment with (as far as I can see) hardly any possibilities for resentents to create their own content, I am sure that the possibilities for self expression, creativity and community building in Second Life for example will stay very appealing to a lot of users.

Here a video of the presentation where Langeveld showed the beta version of Home live (its a bit dark unfortunately)

Sony Home@E-Day Rotterdam

(video by www.ckmextended.com)

Heres another video, same presentation, different camera angle :)

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?

Warner Bros. Entertainment will launch their own Virtual World: T-Works

09.07.07

 After Mattel, Daimler-Chrystler, Viacom, Disney and many others, Warner Brothers will also launch their own virtual world called T-Works. T-Works will bring together all of the key characters from the Studios animations in an immersive online environment. Think Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera and DC Comics.

According to the press release, T-Works will offer fans tools for self-expression and personalization in order to “brand” their digital lives anywhere on the Web. They can “incorporate a custom avatar into their lives, whether it’s on T-Works or utilized in the participant’s digital world (MySpace, Facebook, etc.).”

Some other features T-Works will offer:

  • Immersive virtual worlds where users interact with each other and assume a cartoon identity based on existing characters
  • Video channel featuring hundreds of hours of animations and series
  • A personalization channel to serve all aspects of fans digital lives from customizing social networking profiles, portable widgets, desktop applications and more
  • A games channel with over 125 games featuring never-before-seen character match-ups
  • Video Mash-Up Maker where users can create and share their own cartoon remixes
  • A reward system that gives points for all activity that the user does both within the virtual worlds and throughout the site

Now that is ofcourse a major player to enter the Virtual Worlds market, Warner Bros obviously has some prety good cards in their hands with their rich base of wellknown characters and cartoons. Some tough competition for Disney here. (more…)



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