September 20, 2006
An idea that my partner Steve Arnold and I have been brewing for a while is the emerging opportunity for “virtual worlds.”
What the heck is a virtual world? Think MySpace meets World of Warcraft (or, in other words, a mix between a social network and a massively multiplayer online game, or MMOG).
The meteoric rise of social networks shows that a heck of a lot of people out there like to connect and commune online. And the MMOG phenomenon shows that there are some significant audiences out there who are willing to spend a ton of time immersed in online roleplaying games.
Where this seems to us to be pointing is the emergence of “virtual worlds” which on the one hand have the 3D representations of MMOGS, but need not be “games” as typically conceived (ie, “men in tights” role playing/quest based games). Rather they are online communities where people can interact in a much more graphically represented, real-world like environment than the static profiles of the current social networks.
A good example of this is Second Life.
“Tasty Research” has a good post on this, suggesting that MMOGs are, in effect, a “Third Place,” described as “somewhere besides home or work where people can socialize and feel comfortable.”