Your own Virtual World

A group photo of a “Linkshell” guild in the game Final Fantasy XI: Online.

How would you like to be able to build your own virtual world? Run a virtual trade show, hold a conference, build a haunted house for Halloween, create events, hold customer events, perform sales pitches, the list is endless. My friend, Graeme Thickins, is out at Demo ’06 right now and has been posting about what he finds cool out there. Today’s post mentioned Multiverse, a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG)
or virtual world platform which you can use to build whatever world you can imagine.

I’ve spent time in Second Life and have enjoyed wandering around. I’ve been very reluctant to invest time and effort there, since I can see how easy it would be to become addicted! That still doesn’t take away from the fact that virtual worlds will be places where people’s consciousness is located. Maybe infrequently. Maybe often. But if you’ve tried virtual worlds in the past or you’re ‘living’ in one now, you can see how powerful the social interactions are within them. (Note: the most recent cool event was Stanford Law professor, Larry Lessig’s, lecture within Second Life).

What will these worlds look like 20 years from now?

I’ve mentioned before that I’m slogging through Ray Kurzweil’s book The Singularity is Near. He points out the obvious: that Moore’s Law continues through 2020 and the exponential increases in computing power will result in computers 1 million times more powerful than what you use today (Kurzweil comes to some amazing conclusions from this and other data, but I digress). Broadband is exponentially increasing and expecting 100 megabits per second by then is reasonable.

These forces mean one thing when it comes to MMOG’s: the resolution of them will increase to the point that it may become difficult to distinguish the fantasy of a virtual world from reality. Think the Pixar movie The Incredibles and imagine the realism of animation like this 20 years from now. Now imagine you’re within that world and interacting with machine and real characters. Further imagine those characters look nearly identical to a real human being.

No question that our consciousness is going to be mapped on to and within virtual environments. How soon, how quickly, and how powerful these worlds will be is anyone’s guess…but this is very, very cool.

What world would you build? Think of your business or organization right now. If you could connect people within either a closed or an open virtual world, what would it be? What would happen within it? Would it be a democracy or would you be the dictator? Would you make money from it or make it free? Use it for sales pitches or customer support?

UPDATE 2/8/06: Wired delivers this interesting article on “Making a Living in Second Life”. Well worth a read and it makes my point of the power of these new virtual worlds and the possibilities of using them.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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