Massively Multiplayer Online(MMO) used to be about dragons, character leveling up, the odd spell. Second life has changed the model an introduced some new patterns that are there to be explored.
MMO’s got a mention in IBM’s Global Innovation Outlook as one of the strands of conversation about the changes ahead for the world.
Games have always been a part of my life, I have grown up wth them. However I also do ‘serious’ computing. Now, though, it is impossible to ignore the elements in Second Life that provide real collaborative computing in an immersive commercial environment.
In this environment people make money, selling things to other people. Shops and malls are forming in the virtual world, people are providing services, writing code, designing objects all to exchange for the Linden $. The unusual aspect is that the L$ trades both ways with the real world. So you make money in game, you make money in real life. A real economy?
People are making money, but they are also being extremely creative and innovative. Its not a single big product or killer app that makes the money, its volume sales of interesting objects and function.
The environment also considers those who wish only to contribute and open source thinking is rife in the virtual world. As a creator of an object in this world (which is in effect code) you are able to place it in world, sell it, offer it to the anyone, give it to people but not allow them to alter it, make it a perishable item. In normal terms it has an extremely rich access control mechanism.
The guys can also scale, more people subscribe…. they add another server/world/island.
All of what is in the environment is created by the users (most of whom subscribe). Where else do you get thousands of customers to self build your product?
A few of us are in second life, taking a look around, seeing what is happening and actually experiencing it rather than just reading about it, enjoying as well as researching. The facts an figures are more eloquently explained in this Google tech talk. It may not or may not be the coming of web 3.0, but some of the potential that is being created and exploited here cannot be ignored.