Republished: Raph Koster on the “mainstreaming” of virtual worlds

Posted on 6 February, 2008

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 This post originally appeared on Dan’s Glass Houses blog on October 29th, 2007.

There’s an excellent post on Raph Koster’s website where he considers just how close to becoming mainstream ‘virtual worlds’ really are (which of course raises the issue of what is and isn’t a virtual world).  Raph sums things up nicely:

“The bottom line is something that has been known for a very long time. Chat is never enough. Try to find a real-world business built on social interaction without something to do, and what you will find is that successful social (or “third”) places generally rely on a shared activity: drinks at the bar serving as a lubricant, bingo at the church, bowling at the lanes, a movie to ignore, and so on.

So, is there hope for mainstreaming for non-entertainment apps? Absolutely. But in my opinion, it’s not going to come from pure social virtual worlds. Entertainment is going to continue being the key driver.”

I’ve seen this in my Schome work in Second Life so couldn’t agree more.  Without the wide range of events that take place the island would be a shadow of what it is.  As with other environments (including games like World of Warcraft) the social interactions that originate on our Second Life island continue beyond the virtual world in which they begin.  The Schome forum for example includes genuine social chit chat but the largest part of conversation focuses on the many ‘things’ that the community actively engages with in Second Life.

Virtual worlds are great, as long as there is something to do in them.

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Posted in: Cyberculture, MUVEs