So what exactly are virtual worlds? Virtual worlds are avatar, digital replication of you, based environments that involve multiple players contributing together to make a world. These worlds call for individuals to work together to shape the environments and give it life. The main virtual world game I am going to be talking about is Second Life. Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely created by residents. In this virtual world meetings, conferences, research, projects, and career exploration are conducted.
I thought the developers of the game Second Life were just using that term for their game because it sounds like good marketing phrase for a game. But after doing my research it shows that this is not just a name of a game. It really embodies what this game means to its users. Since its launch is 2003 over 15 million people have signed up for the service. But Second Life doesn’t really count these users anymore, form their “simultaneous users” the people who are active on Second Life everyday, their count is about 68,000 users. Users in Second Life are spending an average of 23,000 hours a day playing this game.
So you might think why should I care about virtual realities, I know I was thinking the same thing when we started talking about this subject, but the truth is these virtual worlds are crossing over into the real world. Users in Second Life retain full ownership of their virtual creations. And with issues such as crime, vandalism, harassment, and exploitation taking place in these games and individuals in real life going to jail in the real world, there is nothing unreal about that.
Also as interactive media professionals the growth of virtual world games such as Second Life embodies the growing appeal reflected by today’s society on new model for media entertainment, which is don’t just sit and watch, do something, get involved, get active. We have to understand how to capitalize on this if you want to stay relevant in the field. We have to sit back and analyze why users playing these games. Some people are just in Second Life because their jobs require them to be. Having meetings in the virtual world can save money because it cuts down on the cost of operation a business has to pay for.
But for others what is the draw to this game. Maybe our friend McGonigal from the beginning of the semester theory is really true. Maybe video games do let us build a bigger network and allow us to feel more comfortable about being socially active. Maybe individual’s needs are not being met in the real world so they have to go into the virtual world and get gratification. Regardless the theories one thing is for sure, users are on the Internet more then ever before and they are interacting with more people than ever before. Now I am not going to argue if this a good thing or bad thing, that is for another blog, but as developers we have understand how these virtual worlds and social networks are working and like the example of IBM taking its meetings viral in worlds like Second Life, how we can utilize and imply these technologies to our life that is going to be beneficial.