browser-based virtual worlds

All posts tagged browser-based virtual worlds

With the recent announcement of Linden Labs (you know the company behind Second Life) to begin restructuring, one must wonder what the future has in store for our friends. Does this really translate to the end of all the hype surrounding virtual worlds? Well as most of you know that follow this blog, I have long predicted the VW hype to trend downward. The news that Linden Labs will more actively pursue browser-based virtual worlds, doesn’t really surprise me (our CEO has been beating them up on this for some time). It seems as though this future for VW’s is inevitable, in my opinion it’s not a matter of if, just when. The large client download that virtual worlds tend to entail does not entice the critics nor skeptics, however once browser-based virtual worlds become more of a reality, those skeptics may be hard pressed to not change their minds.

The second announcement from LL entailed the fact that SL may become more integrated with social networking, again not a big surprise to most as I and many others have been predicting this for a while. With the meteoric rise of social networking the past few years, I believe this only to be a natural progression in the right direction.

What happens if Linden shuts down the enterprise sector of the company? Why wouldn’t companies go for the enterprise edition of Second Life? The opportunity for Second Life to be big is still there, despite the downturn of the hype cycle that exists now. If Linden Lab is able to introduce a valuable social networking integration within a virtual world, many may adapt to the idea and become believers. As for the browser-based usability access of a VW, if it is done right it has great potential. Time will tell if Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, has the ability to re-capture believers and reel in the skeptics.

By Ed Heinbockel, President and CEO (Head Heretic), Visual Purple, LLC

I’m witnessing some interesting virtual world developments of late. Not a scientific study to be sure, but a real, on-the-ground reality check. Quite simply: The emperor has no clothes.

Real companies and organizations with real training budgets are making real evals of real VW solutions. What they’re learning is an anathema for many in the VW community.

So here is the deal… Collaboration, since the beginning the holy grail of virtual worlds, is taking a backseat to the realities of building real world training for today’s digital workforce.

It’s not lost on those who have built VW applications as to probably why the collaboration drum has been beat so loud, for so long. Think about it: what else can you do in a virtual world unless you have the technology to embed logics to faithfully drive story, objects, behaviors, experiences, etc???? Well, about all you could do is co-op your friends or colleagues to join in and have a social, I mean, collaborative experience. I know, this is heresy. But then again, I’ve always been a bit of a heretic.

Collaboration has its place to be sure, great examples are what you can accomplish in Qwaq, Forterra and some SL apps by Rivers Run Red. But when it comes to real, high fidelity VW training invoked in a browser being dished up from a remote LMS with demonstrable results, what I’m hearing today is “…collaboration with a fence around it would be fine down the road. But right now, budgets are tight and we like virtual worlds because they cost-effectively deliver a compelling training experience that plays to today’s gamer savvy workforce. And realistically, all my people are very busy, dispersed and scheduling them all to be in world at one time is nearly impossible.” Dovetailing with this is a pervasive non-tech company corporate fear that the training will largely become a social experience. Message received. Get good asynchronous training in the hands of people now and prove the efficacy of VWs for training and learning. THEN walk the collaborative path…baby steps, collaborative baby steps… oh, and don’t forget your emperor’s, er, avatar’s clothes!