Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Virtual World Futures - Pervasiveness

To make it into mainstream use, virtual worlds must seamlessly integrate with the rest of our online lives. These days, we routinely jump between dozens or even hundreds of sites and apps every day, bouncing back and forth between PCs, tablets, phones and smart TV devices. We are almost never solely focused within a single application. Instead, we are completely immersed within a seamless networked web of social networking, messaging and nonstop multi-media consumption. On the PC, we are gravitating away from apps to cloud-based services accessed through a browser. And almost every successful online service and application can be accessed from our mobile devices. So when I think of the virtual world future, I see one that seamlessly integrates with the rest of our pervasively networked lives. This means browser-based and mobile access, with a much more friendly user experience than provided by current virtual world platforms.

Here's a quick little concept video I put together in 2009, imagining a world where our avatar identities become ubiqtuous:


Will Burns said...

...and offline lives. A virtual world identity has to hold relevance outside the context of virtual worlds for it to become ubiquitous. This includes the bigger context of online interactions, but in order to become ubiquitous, it must be as common as the name you use on your email, or associated as a pseudonym in the real world, much like Mark Twain became synonymous with Samuel Clemens.

The biggest hurdle to that ubiquity and perceptual validity outside of the context of virtual worlds, which makes up just a tiny fraction of total possible users in the world, is ironically the rigidity of remaining completely anonymous vs a middle ground of pseudonym.

Until that middle ground is more prevalent, virtual worlds will continue to remain in the bubble it cannot really escape, no more real or valid than Saturday morning cartoons.

Ultimately it is a prison of the community's own making. What seems normal to the 100,000 users of SL seems suspect to the other 6+ billion people on Earth. The best way to bridge that gap is actually to bridge it via pseudonym association. Take what the majority of the public thinks is legit, and associate in a way that plays up to it.

Then you'll win over the rest of the planet.

Botgirl Questi said...

Hi Will, I agree with you about pseudonymity versus anonymity. For instance, my Botgirl identity has at least as many Twitter interactions with people who are identified with either wallet names or non-SL pseudonyms.

That said, if the 3D virtual world paradigm is ever going to take its place along the 2D Web, social networks, etc. in both personal and business life, there will probably be more wallet name identities than pseudonymous. At least on twitter, there doesn't seem to be any conflict between the two.