There are several topics around virtual worlds that I plan to get to in this blog, but I haven’t been able to find the time recently. Nevertheless, I recently answered a long series of questions from someone who is writing a book about virtual worlds, so I thought I would put out one of my responses for discussion.
The question was about the future of virtual worlds and social networks. I responded:
I think we will continue to have separate 3D virtual worlds and 2D social networks, but we will have some 3D virtual worlds become strong social networks.
Minimally, you can imagine moving something like a MySpace page to a 3D MySpace room, along with objects that you can inspect and possibly take or copy. Rooms can then be grouped in apartment complexes and you could relocate as necessary. For example, your room could be in a complex related to a college or high school, and then you could relocate it to another complex that is devoted to something like Latin American music. The point is that the apartment complex, as I have termed it, will allow you to wander around and meet people with similar interests or profiles.
A social network could use virtual world technology to meet its goals, just as it uses web technologies today. Indeed, a “social network” used to mean people meeting up in real life and interacting! I think a better question would have been “how will social networks evolve to make use of virtual world technology to extend their functionalities.” I gave an example above.
One topic that I hope to get to sooner rather than later is mentioned over in the Dark London blog:
But I believe there is a fourth rule that makes a 3D space a ‘world’ and that is it needs to have some kind of mythology, in the broadest sense of the term.
I’ve been thinking about this for weeks and I think it is highly important. Some virtual worlds will have a single, all encompassing mythology, while others like Second Life might develop separate mythologies for some of the distinct regions. Are mythologies what ultimately make some virtual worlds more “sticky” than others, to use the early web marketing term?