Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Virtual Worlds Day One

So day one is finished: it was not exactly as I expected. There was little representation from game worlds; most of the attendees were involved in social networking sites, content creation, and other virtual environment-type pursuits. Here are some highlights:

Keynote Speaker Anthony Zuiker, creator of CSI: Gave an entertaining speech laying down the most recent approach to marketing CSI by connecting TV, online, mobile, and gaming platforms to give a total media package. Build the content and they will come.

Edward Castronova's Perfidious Economy: The speech was meant to get the attendees thinking about policy issues in virtual worlds. He played an old economics game with three volunteers (me being one of them) involving the pooling of common resources to illustrate that whether dictatorship or democracy rules, often, the result of external organization is more resources for all. He argues that the fun of MMOs comes from this sharing of common resources. I thought his argument that placing an external structure on a virtual economy could increase resources (here being not only wealth, but also fun) was an interesting contrast to the usual murmuring complaints of those that think that the players should be able to do whatever they want.

Sean Kane's IP Wealth and Pitfalls of Synthetic Worlds: It was essentially a refresher from my copyright course, covering the many layers of copyrightability within virtual worlds with two big take-aways: 1. Copyrights are cheap at $45, so just get one; and 2. Copyright vigilance is a lot cheaper than litigation - so hire a lawyer!

Blake Lewin's Announcement of a Partnership between Turner Networks and Kaneva: Lewin described Turner's business model as aggregating content to suit a particular niche audience, and then using this audience to sell advertising for other products that niche may enjoy. Turner has used Kaneva to create a virtual environment for propagating Turner's licensed content. Inside this virtual world, there were screens everywhere constantly showing Turner content. These environments range from a hypothetical TBS building (very funny), to a TNT land (knows drama), to a recreation of the Family Guy house for watching Family Guy with friends. It will be interesting to see if people will sign in to watch TV with friends --> will the experience be the same as actually watching it with friends?

Overall, the day was a success and I am looking forward to tomorrow.

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