How do these three mediums converge in the coming year(s)?
While IM, text and email are firmly planted into our daily rituals (unless you are under the age of 21, where communication is via a social network site). Recently, the question of this convergence bubbled to the surface as I spoke with a 17 year old and found out he and his friends rarely, if never, used their email accounts? His group of friends, not unlike other people his age, supposedly converse via the platforms such as Facebook. You dont use email I asked?
Is this a tidal shift in user adoption or a “stage of life” whereas once the late teens and early collegiate kids hit the work world, their email address will become indespensible…like the rest of us? Or, will Facebook (or fill in the blank social media platform supplant email and its ilk to become the connectivity factor that is dominant?
Thinking more on this subject, if social media becomes the entry point to the web and THE platform for communcation, then a more personalized experience will gradually morphy/evolve from the static experience of today. Thus, virtual worlds (or elements of these experiences – games, sticky apps, personalization via avatars, etc) will make their way into the mainstream dialogue.
Thus, I took a look at a few of the virtual worlds that are teeming with small, but very active users. Sites such as Gaia with their bobble heads focusing on the early teen market with their sticky casual games made me think the casual game market is going to continue to explode.
Club Penguin, geared towards the 6-14 year old was not that interesting but then again I wasnt the target demo! Hangout.net and the ability to personalize one’s “room” was intriguing in that its controlled experience, ie one room (unlike Second Life’s free for all) suggested personalization for the college dorm set.
There.com which was geared towards late teens, provided hip avatars that personified the zeitgeist of that age bracket – wanting to be someone much cooler than reality! Habbo was another interesting site that focused on the early teen market and had an active chat community. I wont touch on Second Life, arguably the most profound and social developed of all sites with its DYI model and functioning currency.
Other sites caught my attention, like Moove with its edgy avatars seemingly geared towards an older audience.
Active Worlds was another DYI build and linux based for the more sophisticated EE amongst us. Zwinky, which was bought by IAC was geared entirely at the tween girl market. Other sites that hit my radar were Stardoll for the late teen demo, whose consumption oriented fashionista behaviors seemed the most likely for ecommerce based revenue streams. Kaneva with their edgy avatars had a high “cool” factor.
Google’s Lively (which I couldnt access since they dont support Mac based OS….annoying) is a must see at this point, despite a lack of fanfare from those I know who have toyed with their app. Meez, a site with 3d avatars and games was another site speaking to the interactivity of entertainment and personalization,
Sites that I plan to review are Cyworld and Roma Victor (an MMORPG based on Hadrian’s wall and Rome; where in 2007, corporal punishment was instituted amongst its players for crimes against others for misdeeds).