Games and Business – Changing the Game

My amazon delivery arrived today of Changing the Game by David Edery and Ethan Mollick.
Changing the game
For many of us in this growing blended industry of metaverses, virtual worlds, serious games and such like this book may well be a busmans holiday. However, it is packed with evidence, facts and figures and useful imagery to help convince those who seem to think any game play elements at all in business really dont fit.
Well they do IMHO. Take a look at what David and Ethan have to say, as a great deal of business and academic experience is captured in this book.
One key element they point out is that the only way to understand anything at all about games is to play them or observe them very closely. The surface descriptions of many of the tasks and the game terminology often masks the true deep use and depth of advantages.
It is once again fitting nicely into the serendipity of life as I was having amny of these same conversations with the various visitors to my BAFTA studio session yesterday. You dont just have to make games and related environments you can use them.

Virtual Worlds London – metarati and moving coffee – Day 1 Part 1

Monday and Tuesday this week were the virtual worlds london conference So the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre across the road from parliament in Westminster was a hot bed of metarati activity.
The main conference hall is a very impressive UN like stage and sets of tables. It was hard to gauge numbers in attendence but it seemed quite busy.
The opening keynote was Mark Kingdon the new Linden Lab CEO. I had heard Mark talk at the birthday celebrations but it was also good to see him and hear how he saw Second Life now.
The pitch had to try and balance the potential of people in the audience not knowing about virtual worlds and the more experienced industry people too.
He showed lots of numbers and spoke about the growing peak concurrency and improved stability.
Mark Kingdon @ vwlondon
He also indicated that whilst not a product announcement as such that 1st Quarter 2009 woudl see the beta of the behind the firewall enterprise Second Life. Of some interest to us in eightbar as IBM has been part of that drive and research as we have some servers behind the firewall so I guess we are alpha participants 🙂
The drive to a more corporate approach and the enterprise market whilst not losing the creative and eclectic set of public communities is an interesting balance for Linden Lab to take. Some people did comment that the many Linden’s in attendance and Linden stand was very suited and booted as we say.
There was also a joint strategic partnership that saw Justin Bovington from Rivers Run Red take to the stage showing the immersive workspaces video and explaining it for the audience.
Also in the keynote M Linden finished on a very good point that these virtual environments whilst very much about people and integrating with others can also be a place fo great solitude and personal reflection.
Ren Reynolds(Now a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts (FRSA) many congrats!) twittered “@epredator virtual worlds as pause to think, now they are doing my pitch ! oh and behind F/W see Biz Case i did 3 years ago! ” and I was reminded of a post I made back in 2006 about remembering to relax in Second Life too.
After this the next session was “Trends and Numbers – Where is it all going?”. Each presenter gave a pitch. Harvey Cohen from Strategy Analytics showed some research results mainly around what ubiquity meant and needed to be and how we were not there yet. Nic Mitham of K Zero showed some of his excellent charts on worlds, demographics and those new middleware platforms coming of age very soon. Then Steve Prentice from Gartner aimed to remind people of my favourite opener “this is about people”
Steve Prentice @ VwLondon
Think purpose not volume, think value not numbers, think people not physics.
(Being very much on the receiving end of trying to justify what this is all about these are things I am very much tuned into. It is almost a description of what to do with your evangelists too).
We then all went for coffee and expo time. The expo was a little odd in layout, it was over two floors that we sort of corridoors, sort of mezzanine levels. The natural flow was not to go from one floor to the other as the electives were either in the large ground floor hall or the 4th floor in more of a long office. The moving coffee reference in the title was because each coffee break the coffee would rez on a different floor to induce a green dot effect and have people mingle around the stands with some sort of engineered distribution. Of course virtual worlds, whilst getting more serious and business like, tend to attract a more up and at ’em audience and I am not sure the coffee moving was very popular.
The expo had a few stands but was no where near as large as the US expos. IBM did not have a stand either though there were a few of us there speaking. The biggest and most populated and staffed stand though was the Second Life one.
The first elective I attended was Defining Your Strategy: what does ROI mean to you. Chaired by the ever present Corey Bridges of Multiverse. Phillipe Moitroux of TAATU, Divinia Knowles of Mind Candy and Peter Haik of Metaversatility were the panelists. Phillipe showed a presentation ot TAATU and explained some of how they used their 2.5d flash world to integrate with marketing and media campaigns.
Corey was challenging the panel to give numbers for ROI and taking the stance that there has to be ROI for investment to be proved. Mind Candy’s Moshi Monsters though is in early take up phase, to get buy in before any monetization so there were no figures, as you would expect. Peter indicated that some of this need to be looked at as presence and that the ROI is complicated to show in that case. This led to some discussion from the audience about the balance of how to measure PR vs how to measure marketing. It made for a prickly but good start and Peter was up for arguing with Corey over the need and intent for some of the virtual world projects. Of course multiverse is more about building virtual worlds and metaversatility is about doing things in them so that is comparing two different things really anyway.
I then left the main hall and tooke the lift to the 4th floor (again bypassing the expo) for the “future of virtual collaboration in the enterprise”. Bernard Horan of Sun, Rupert Key of Malden Labs, Chris Collins Linden Lab and Paul McDonagh-Smith Nortel talked about all the various projects and directions for enteprise virtual worlds. Chris obviously added and re-iterated the keynote mention of the 1Q beta, Paul talked about the various Nortel projects and products emerging, Bernard covered many of the aspects of using multiple platforms and Project Darkstar, and Rupert described how some of the more rigourous software engineering was coming into play. He used the SOA (services orientated architecture) word first and ESB (enterprise services bus) 🙂 Small cheer from me there.
For me this session was more about the “coming of age” as Tish said, of the enterprise virtual world. All these great companies, all active, bought in, selling solutions, building solutions. Its not going to go away and may be the biggest driver for VW take up. Not everyone will play a game who works in a office, their kids might be in the kids worlds, they may explore a social media platform. However, many more people use email at work, use computers as tools of the trade. Injecting virtual worlds into that points towards the ubiquity we are straving for. That also starts to make this a “platform”, onto which new innovations will occur. All very exciting for this metaverse evangelist.
The post lunch session began for me with the “Rise of Mirror Worlds and Mirror World Applications”. Now dont get me wrong I like mirror worlds, but I was more taken with the sort of augmented mashup approach that David Burden of Daden took in showing the mirror world potential than initially the approach of Alex Wrottesly of Near and Mirko Caspar of Metaversum (Twinity). Alex was basiclaly coming out of “pseudo stealth” and sharing the Near concept of a 100% accurate model of a city with managed shop fronts and interiors for all the parties involved in the real place. Twinity was showing virtual Berlin and the sort of activities and popularity of having a real place to socialize in.
David showed google maps mashups with aeroplane arrival data and layering of reality with augmentations from various places.
David Wortley from Serious games was moderating, but I was late getting into the room so only caught the end of of his intro.
Near was challenged on the need to be 100% accurate all the time. How does that get to happen. Self management by store owners in real life seemed to be part of it. An interesting focus. Also Kevin Aires asked if someone did not have a real presence surely they could not participate. (I was thinking that too as IBM does not have any shops, not does Amazon). The answer was that if they were not in real space they would not be in the model, though it raised the notion of people buying up real estate in order to occupy the virtual model which might have a wider reach that the real place. Complicated conundrums.
Personally I think that accurate models of real places do make sense, its what the Ordnance Survey spend a lot of time creating. A sort of managed wiki approach for store front owners may seem an overhead that they may choose to not enagage with. However, an accurate model, instrumentated with whats going on the real world, a paraverse as our Collegue Peter Finn refers to them makes alot of sense. Maybe populated with openspime data. That is accurate and valuable. Though virtual tourism and visiting places clearly has its attractions. I love driving at speed around the Project Gotham version of London on my Xbox 360.
The penultimate session was virtual worlds as interactive television. I missed some of this due to another gathering elsewhere. However the gist seemed to be that television needed to adopt a way to engage with the audience and that various projects try to do this in various ways. The problem often being that simply repackaging an experience based on a TV show of film doesnt work very well, but that creating an engaging all platform experience is veyr hard to do. I was reminded of the sort of conversations that Tim Kring of Heroes fame was having in LA. He suggested that hollywood was not very good at seeing the potential, but merely treated everything as being able to shrink wrap it in the next format. Film, to DVD. etc. He, as a story teller and creator wanted to layer across all the engagement points.
The final keynote was a call to arms for the Virtual Worlds Roadmap. This needs a post in its own write as we all need to get on board with this across the industry and help. Victoria Coleman (Samsung), Sibley Verbeck (electric sheep company), Jeffrey Pope 3Di, John Hengeveld (intel) and (at last I got to meet him for real and he is now busy helping NASA work out how to deflect extinction level event asteriods from Earth!) Bruce Damer were all on stage giving their view. The main aim is to gather together and cut through use cases to understand and help people come to terms with which applications need to be built for which case.
(In my own humble way I have been trying this with my reverse ICE model)
The gathering up to now have been physical ones as people got together to solve break the problems up, but we very much need to all get involved and spread this voluntary effort across the metaverse community. I certainly would like to see the 6000 IBMers all contributing from the virtual universe community in the near future.
It’s here the virtual worlds roadmap. lets do this!
Long post… Day 2 next post

Virtual Forbidden City – Live. History in the making

The virtual forbidden city project, beyond space and time has now gone live.
This has been a fascinating journey to follow, that is as much part of the history of my involvement in virtual worlds as anything.
forbidden city
Way back in 2006 John Tolva and I bumped into one another again, having both worked together on Wimbledon and also having helped with another of the projects that came to Hursley for some extra development skills from Rob and Daz and many others.
John had hit the nebulus Second Life on the same day as I had, for no reason that we could fathom. We then noticed one anothers blog posts.
So the famous virtual world serendipty that I have learned to trust kicked in veyr early.
John was exploring options for the project that rolled on from his previous one of Eternal Egypt. John specializes in running large innovative projects that use the web for more philanthropic reasons as part of what is called corporate community relations.
So there we were in SL, I had my personal shiny new island Hursley and he and his team were looking at how they might represent the forbidden city in the growing world of the virtual, non game metaverse.
So I loaned the team the island, and a massively detailed chinese build started to form in the sky over the next few weeks whilst they procured their own official island.
That island then became the venue, after the 2006 innovation jam, for our CEO Sam Palmisano to announce virtual worlds as one of the top five findings from this virtual chinese palace, and getting this all on the cover of business week.
So Second Life proved a testing ground, but the development then moved platforms to a more controlled environment. The team chose Torque. (Yes the very same platform we used for the initial CIO metaverse work so you can see how this flow is going!). As this was a service that was focused on one subject in many ways, like a game, it does not need the full dynamic nature of SL. Also the scaling of this needs to work in a different way, running on and with underlying IBM infrastructure this becomes part reference account for being able to build and run things. Being torque the client download is large(ish) as it contains most of the reosurces you need as there is no need to stream the forbidden city all the time as its not constantly changing in structure, though new content can be delivered.
John’s post on the launch is the best reference I think (hence only a single picture here from me). You will also find it on
One other feature that I always have to mention is the ability to not just follow NPC tours, but to be a tour leader yourself. This means teachers and educators can guide a tour around adding their own structure to the experience for a willing group of participants.
Enjoy Beyond Space and Time

Eightbar live at virtual worlds london 20th/21st October

This coming Monday and Tuesday eightbar will be live at Virtual Worlds London. Whilst there is no specific stand there will be Rob and I and few other collegues around and about to come and talk too.
Rob is on a panel on Tuesday morning in the enterprise stream Platform Integration Considerations for
Enterprise Virtual Worlds and then I follow that with a solo effort on “Business Process Management
How do you manage a virtual worlds presence for an organization.”
We also have Chris over from Ireland to talk about Security and Technical Issues.
I have just finished reshaping my pitch, as BPM is usually just one element. Though I believe I have enough interesting things to cover and a bit of future too. (I worked in an IBM emerging business unit on BPM about 5 years ago).
So see you there, feel free to grab any of us to talk and support Rob on his first VW conference panel.

Handheldlearning 2008 – Virtual worlds for educators

This week I was invited to join a panel of presenters to talk to educators from all sorts of establishments. Handheldlearning2008 was not specifically about mobile devices so it covered a whole host of subjects. One of them was of course virtual worlds.
We gathered for out session at the Brewery centre a the Barbican (horrible to get to from waterloo on a tube)
The agenda was as follows:
Virtual Worlds and Social Networks
From Second Life to Endless Ocean, from Habbo Hotel to Bebo and
Facebook, learners and teachers have a variety of alternate worlds where
they can socialise, collaborate and share information. This session is an
opportunity to explore, debate and understand the implications of these
systems for teaching and learning.
Featured speakers and panellists include:
Cindy Rose, Senior Vice President, Walt Disney Internet Group, EMEA
(Alan Welsman European Marketing Director came instead as Cindy was not able to come for personal reasons)
Ian Hughes, Metaverse Evangelist, IBM
Dave Taylor, Developer, Imperial College, founder of SciLands
Kurt Squire, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Ron Edwards, CEO Ambient Performance
Kathy Trinder, Research Fellow, Glasgow Caledonian University –
danah boyd, Social Media Scientist, University of California (Berkeley) –
Donald Clark was our moderator/wrangler/continuity agent. (The last education session had Dave, Ron and I chaired by Donald, so we knew what was what)
We each did a presentation. Alan from Disney was up first, explaining some of the disney properties and where they fitted in the whole social network and online space. I liked the concept that putting things online was still living Walt’s dream. As Walt Disney sought to create immersive fantasy worlds on film, so they are doing so now online. He showed the video that was played in LA for the fairy virtual world coming to europe next year and alluded to Cars (much more up my street).
I then did a pitch a bit different to my normal “what virtual worlds are for” and aimed at the various things IBM has for education rescources., innov8 (SOA/BPM game) and the recently launched Forbidden City. I also talked about rehearsal studio.
When it got to questions we had a very long Q&A session. Mostly around the fact that IT departments are stopping things happening. I have to admit I was rebel rousing a bit. IT policy is “not a law of physics its just people”. Whilst we are “lucky” in IBM to be able to explore, its an essential to get innovation and adoption. I suggested that waiting for official sanction and permission was too late, people should just get out there and explore.
Next up was Dave Taylor from imperial college. he showed the great pieces of work in Second Life around scilands and health. He also finished wih Robbie Dingo’s starry night video. I love this video.
After a break Ron did a pitch about Ambient Performance, he showed the brilliant Augmented reality demo on the N95, and then linked with Dick Davies for a live Forterra Olive demonstration.
Finally Kurt Squire did a very intelligent and passionate pitch about his experiences and research around deeper forms of engagement with students over the web.
We then split to panel, turned our chairs around and were joined by Kathy Trinder and danah boyd.
We therefore had a passionate panel who cared about virtual worlds, games and social media. So we had lots of conversation, and some disagreement on subjects. danah is of course very well known in social media circles, and I was very happy to be on a panel with her. Much of what I talk about is not based on actual research, but my personal experience.
The general conversation was that teachers and educators really do have to engage with social media and virtual worlds. They should not replicate what is going on just for schools, but should be the eyes on the street out there. Being moderately literate in the ways of the latest generation is the key.
I am not getting at anyone in the audience but we had a question/statement. It started badly “I have never used one of these virtual worlds or games but all I see is children totally immersed and not communicating”. Before the panel could explain the odd elements to that conversation the audience joined in and said how wrong that was. danah then used an anecdote that a mother complained here two daughters never talked just sat on their laptops and typed away. When the daughters were interviewed it turned out they were in fact talking to one another but that the mother was to controlling so they sought a quiet back channel.
Things that engage and immerse are not wrong. The greatest change though is that the immersion is now with other people. Whilst you can think it is all space invaders, you versus the machine, that is but one facet. Gaming with other people counts, and extend way past the game itself. The game is merely a background frame of reference.
We had quite a discussion (familiar to many metarati) on the notions of identity. The problems thrown up with people choosing to look or act in a certain way being mixed up in many peoples minds with who they actually are. Kathy was leading the charge on this, but many of us joined in. I am very passionate about the difference between roleplaying and my online presence as epredator. It may have visual interpretations, but that should not be confused with who the user is. as I often point out people can be dishonest in real life. Many of us choose to be upfront and honest wherever we are.
The underlying elements are the same as faced by enterprises, the problems faced by education is the same, with different subtle elements.
We cant access x,y,z. We need to control x,y,z, We dont have time for x,y,z.
The basic principle that education needs to change and embrace the devices and fabric that already exists, not resort to simply creating and procuring new devices. That of course, as was pointed out by danah, need to be balanced with creating a social void of the have and the have nots and the can and the cannots. – Role play to protect the future

Ok, so I only ever seem to be writing about Virtual Worlds. This is something related, yet different but that has some intriguing elements.
Superstruct is an Alternate Reality futurology game being acted out in the next few weeks across many touch points that we are familiar with in the internet. (props to @csven for reminding me to follow up on my registration for this)
This initial video shows the basic premise for the problem that needs to be solved. I guess in these times of doom and gloom facing extinction as a race might not add to the mood, but the purpose of this exploration is to write the story of 2019. Roleplaying as yourself, but in the future. An interesting dynamic. as very often my head is off in that sort of space it makes sense to join in.

Anyway, see what you think. As with all ARG’s its a thing to dip into and out of and run along side your regular flow of web activity.
As the quote goes “Thinking is one of the hardest things to do, which is why so few people seem to do it”

Put that block there – VW/RL input devices

The great thing about middleware and infrastructure services is that once they are in place it becomes very easy to have an idea, then implement it. Rob had been working on the MQTT broker interfaces for various platforms, providing handy API’s that means people could just use the pub/sub messaging. Taking a role as a user of the system I had already implemented the piece in the previous video allowing me to publish messages and subscribe to messages from real world activities in front of a video camera. (This is of course the same technology that AndySC has brought to the fore with his real world experiments, but with a little twist).
In a quick 10 minute test we managed to move from just recieving messages that an event had happened to change that to where the event had happened. So a message is generated with some coords in it, some where other then the virtual world. In this case a camera position.
That is consumed in opensim and translated into a RezObject event by the subscribing script.
In short, cubes and spheres are rezzed in space relative to the control object based on receiving a message from the real world about where they should be.
The image shows Rob and I in opensim with a whole load of rezzed cubes and spheres each one has been created by effectively pointing in real life at a web cam.
It feels very strange to make these things happen, its should not though as we are often making real things virtual, even as I type this on a real keyboard it is creating virtual characters on my screen, however it feels very different in the context of a virtual world for some reason.

Services, PLM, Virtual Worlds, multi-million deal

We are just seeing some rather good news for the virtual world industry stating “IBM today announced it has signed a multi-million IBM Global Business Services agreement with the Fashion Research Institute (FRI) to implement a first-of-a-kind Virtual World Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) Enterprise System.” The full story is here on marketwatch
It is really good news and I am very excited for the team that have been working so hard on this from both companies. We reported on it a while back when it appeared on the street which may have not shown teh full extent of the emerging partnership.
Well as its out on the wires now that all looks good to me and I know that everyone in the entire industry is excited, this is credibility and growth and innovation.
Over at the rebang blog there is also some discussion of Virtual Product Life Cycle Management too.
It’s not quite 3d printing, but very closely related to the entire product life cycle and delivery using virtual worlds. Who would have thought it eh>

Unconferencing in the Hospital for VWF

Rob and I travelled up to London today to take part in the last minute, but very worthwhile, unconference for the Virtual Worlds Forum. It was held at the Hospital club in London.
The venue was very busy and buzzing with people all willing to share, network and present.
Unconferences are probably very scary to many people. The agenda and direction forms dynamically, based on what the visitors want to cover. Generally any of these are attended by the interested and the dynamic, not the apathetic.
This one worked very well. We had a matrix on the wall, done with masking tape and added postit notes for the agenda.
I added top left session 1 a discussion of 3d printers and the future of manufacturing. Whilst a small attended session the important thing was the attendees really wanted to discuss this.
Ann Marie from Anarkik3d was at the session and Mark Simpkins. Hi to you guys. Mark had a clear interest and researched background (and knows Roo ). Ann Marie designs jewelry and works with haptics and virtual environments. Check out the videos on the Anarkik3d website its very exciting work.
Rob did a session on intraworld messaging with pub/sub (MQTT) opensim and unity and got a major power gathering including Linden Lab and of course Adam Frisby a driving force in Opensim from Deepthink(note correction apologies Adam 🙂 ) who was wearing a t-shirt.
Unity3d were major sponsors of the event and we had a great demo and chat with those guys as Rob is a Unity3d guru now.
The other conversations were varied and all interesting, including a rather unusual lunch with Christian Renaud, Dave Taylor, Bobby Clay, Jeff Barr and Dave Taylor in a Souk somewhere near covent garden.
So well done one and all and I personally really found ths useful and I know that I met some new people and re-enforced some other friendships and working relationships. That, after all, is the point.

Come jam with us

The IBM global innovation jam 2008 is on now for the next few days. Lots of interesting topics to come and tlak about (loads of virtual world related ones too).
You can register here and come share with the world. (*Update. In my haste I appear to have not noticed that whilst this is a large innovation jam is has been restricted to certain large organizations – sorry for misleading in anyway, my bad)
I just posted about changing the supply chain model with 3d printing from virtual world distribution. Come and tell me why I am wrong 🙂