Over the weekend I caught up on some of the great material at the ReLive08 conference in the UK last week. Roo Reynolds, previously of IBM fame, and now “BBC Social Media smarty pants” did a great round-up presentation.
In it he cited Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbin’s REALLY helpful presentation on comparing virtual worlds. I highly recommended it. Skip over the first few slides. The interesting conclusion on slide 46 is that two of the often cited virtual worlds, World of Warcraft and Second Life, are different in practically every “facet” that Robbins has identified. In other words, they are hard to compare and contrast in a meaningful way as they differ so much.
I think that this approach potentially gives us a common language and approach to analysis of virtual worlds and which ones might serve well for what purposes. As Roo noted it also educates us to a great new word (new to me anyway!) – Stigmergy.
If you do a quick analysis using her method and compare the real world with Second Life, they are largely similar. What does that mean? Is SL a good place to start for trying out things in the real world?
Ted Castronova’s talk suggested that it’s even better to use games rather than open-ended worlds like Second Life, for experimenting. His presentation is also recommended.