Social Media Gaming and the Changing Landscape of Virtual World Viability

The virtual world industry can be a very contradictory one, where trail-blazing developers often allow vision and possibility to run ahead of market feasibility. Raph Koster's Metaplace project partnered with the virtual education firm 3D Squared to promote higher standards of hands-on technology education nationwide, but fell victim to a lack of profitability in the short-term. I even applauded Metaplace for its innovative approach to embedded virtual world spaces just hours before Koster publicly announced Metaplace's scheduled closure.

Now a similar fate has befallen There.com, which recently announced its scheduled closure after twelve years as an interesting playground for fun and research. This stands in sharp contrast to the success of social media developers like Playfish and Zynga, the latter of whom is on track for a highly-anticipated public stock offering and its most profitable year to date.

I've seen a few articles about how the closures of hyped worlds like Metaplace and There.com portend the end of the virtual world "hype cycle," with aging platforms like Second Life and new entrants like Blue Mars facing an uphill fight in a bad economy. The Escapist even reports on how advertisers are running from the current virtual world business darling, Playstation Home.

But this is unnecessarily negtive. One need only take a look at the booming market for social media games to see that the current trend is not so much the end of virtual worlds as a transition towards innovative new ways of delivering content.

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Video: Your Thoughts On Our Appearance on Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe

Pixels and Policy would like to thank Paisley Beebe and everyone involved in the production of Tonight Live for the great interview we had on Sunday, February 28th. Paisley asked some great questions about the evolution of virtual currency and its importance to the real-world economy, and we even got a chance to give due credit to the virtual currency work of Jon Matonis over at The Monetary Future.

Below you'll find the recording of the show, courtesy of Treet.tv. Would love to hear your thoughts, and we'll be putting up some further analysis a little later in the week! Thanks to everyone who came out to see us and for all the great commentary we've received via e-mail and Twitter!

Virtual Education Advocates Find Support for Innovation Across Continents and Economic Landscapes

Virtual worlds are considered
a pleasure of the developed world. After all, they require broadband
internet connections, powerful computers, and the luxury of free time. One
education company is working to change that by bringing stripped-down
mobile classrooms to the rural backroads of Latin America.

ClaseMovil hopes to do in Latin America what many forward-thinking distance-learning companies are doing in the run-down inner cities of the United States. By lowering costs and increasing access to education through virtual classrooms and telecommuting teachers, virtual classrooms offer the promise of quality learning regardless of geographic or economic handicap.

By taking its cue from initiatives already underway in America, Clasemovil showcases a very interesting trend – across land masses and ideologies, languages and cultures, virtual education is gaining steam.

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