Archive for August, 2007

Second Life in Wired

August 2nd, 2007 Bartman No comments

How Madison Avenue is Waisting Millions in Second Life is a great piece by Wired that examines the boom of Fortune 500 companies within Second Life, with numerous quotes from advertising execs about their organization’s SL presence. Some choice quotes:

“Many places you go, there’s still nobody there,” he concedes. That’s certainly the case with Coke’s Virtual Thirst pavilion, where you can long linger without encountering another avatar. “But my job is to invest in things that have never been done before. So Second Life was an obvious decision.” M. Donnelly, Coca Cola exec.

“My initial impression was, ‘Don’t people have better things to do with their lives?’ Then I said, ‘Stupid! You’re not the audience.’… “I think we’ve had 1,200 visitors [since May 2007],” Stern reports. “People tell us that’s very, very good. But I can’t say we have very precise expectations. We just want to be there.”" D. Stern, Commissioner of the NBA


Of those, only about 1 million had logged on in the previous 30 days (the standard measure of Internet traffic), and barely a third of that total had bothered to drop by in the previous week. Most of those who did were from Europe or Asia, leaving a little more than 100,000 Americans per week to be targeted by US marketers.

Once you put in several hours flailing around learning how to function in Second Life, there isn’t much to do. That may explain why more than 85 percent of the avatars created have been abandoned.

“We have basically not made any sales calls,” says Sibley Verbeck, founder and CEO of the Electric Sheep Company, which has built in-world presences for such clients as AOL, Major League Baseball, the NBA, Nissan, Pontiac, and Sony BMG Music. “We would like to. But we can hardly keep up with the Fortune 500 companies that are contacting us.” S. Verbeck, CEO of Electric Sheep, SL in-world design and development firm

“The learning is now,” Jaffe says. “You are a pioneer, and with that comes first-mover advantage” — that chestnut from the Web 1.0 boom. And the paltry numbers? “This is not about reach anymore. This is about connecting. It’s about establishing meaningful, impactful conversations. So when people ask, ‘Why Second Life?’ I ask ‘Why not?’”

“For people who’ve grown up in analog, Second Life is not that hard to understand,” says Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo, a consulting arm of the global ad giant Publicis Groupe. “I have a store in the real world; I have a store in the virtual world.” In contrast, the kind of digital marketing that actually works requires a conceptual leap.

I highly recommend reading this article. Even though it focuses on marketing and advertising, a lot of the knowledge gains these sectors are acquiring are good lessons for educators. Especially that final quote. A quick 2-word swap, and it’s just as applicable to us:
“In contrast, the kind of education and training that actually works requires a conceptual leap.”

Categories: Second Life Tags:

The Shark Game Continued

August 2nd, 2007 Bartman No comments

I started my game and charted a course for my boat around 4pm eastern today. At 8:47 I received an email from the game that my crew spotted a shark named “Melissa”. Curious how the mechanics of the game grow, I logged in to the game to check out my options. The game provides a 3-hour window to login and act when the crew spots a shark.

Since I haven’t done anything yet in the game, I only have 2 crew members and no money. I was presented with three different options:
- Send one crew member into the ocean for surface observation (Danger: Low)
- Send one diver into the water to collected data (Danger: Very High)
- Send two divers to do a short recon dive (Danger: High)

I chose two divers. Remember, the goal here is to collect certain types of data related to sharks. After I chose which crew members to send into the water (I only have 2, so it wasn’t a hard choice!), we entered a new design mechanic: the Role Playing Game (RPG).

Upon clicking the “proceed” button, the game rolled the dice for me to determine the outcomes of the mission. It was a success, and I immediately received a call from my funding agency, congratulating me and providing me with additional money. I then received an email from the CEO, providing a small bonus, and personally asking me for some data on shark aggression.

Remember at the start of the game, I had to choose to work for one of three funding agencies. I chose to work for one that “appreciates dramatic images and video of dramatic shark encounters”.

Also, I received points to allocate to my crew. I could add a point to either:
- Stamina – allows the crew member to participate in dives more frequently. Each dive takes a toll on the member’s stamina, which refuels over time. (NOTE: I’ll probably toss a tired diver into the water at some point just to see if he gets eaten. Nothing like testing the system).
- Skill – provides a better chance that the diver will obtain additional research on the shark. Remember, the more data collected, the more points you score, the more money your agency provides, etc.

The voyage continues…

Categories: Games Tags:

It’s Shark Week!

August 2nd, 2007 Bartman 1 comment

Every August Discovery Channel runs a series of shows about sharks for one week, dubbed “Shark Week”. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Shark Week, which I’ve been watching every summer for as long as I can remember, sitting at my parent’s house on the floor with my big brother, watching (and learning) all sorts of trival things about sharks.

I had some time today to check out the Discovery Channel website, and spent a bit of time poking around their game section, prominently featured on the front page. It was no surprise to see that a shark game, “Shark Runner”, was ranked #1 this week. I figured this was some goofy flash game where you chased around sharks in the open ocean.

Well, I was somewhat right, but had no idea how advanced the game is. The basic premise is that you are a shark researcher, and your job is to head out to the Pacific Ocean and collect data from great whites that have already been tagged. Some mechanics of the game (many of which hold true to successful game design):

Customization: you pick your association among three different shark research organizations (all with slightly different motivations). You also get to customize aspects of your boat and your crew.

Persistent: the game is going whether you are logged in or not. If your boat encounters a shark while you’re logged off, you get an email or SMS alert and a certain amount of time to login and resolve the encounter (collect data I assume).

Level-up or Upgrades: after you have a few encounters, you can go back to shore and upgrade your boat, your crew, and your technology to gather more data on future expeditions.

Competition: similar to Desktop Tower Defense, you can invite a friend to Shark Runner to compete against (called “Rivals” in this game). You can compare scores based on a variety of criteria to see who has the best shark-hunting skills.

Real-Time: This is probably my favorite component of the game. The sharks you are tracking are real sharks, and you’re tracking their movements in real-time within the game. So when my make-believe boat charts a coarse and crosses the path of a great white being tracked, that great white is actually in that specific area at that moment in time. Pretty cool convergance of game mechanics + real-time data.

The only issues I have with the game so far:
- It’s hard to tell if your boat is even moving. It appears as though this is a ‘set it and forget it’ game. Chart a course, go away for several hours, and come back to see if you’ve encountered a shark (or check your email/SMS).
- Registration. I guess this is a necassary evil, and something I had to do before I could chart a coarse with my boat. Luckily they handled it well and it’s fairly quick and painless.

Categories: Educational Technology, Games Tags: