Sep
7
2008

Second Life pwn3d…I want Warcraft for a Virtual Office. Part 1

Second Life pwn3d…I want Warcraft for a Virtual Office. Part 1

Being the geek I am, a few years back I opened a Second Life account to see what all the buzz was about. I chose one of the canned names and spent a while designing the virtual me…well, the Jenny Craig version of me.  I proceeded to take the tutorial, wandered around a bit, and logged off bored and frustrated as to what to do next.  After my first less than stellar experience, I deleted the files off my PC and forgot about “the life.”

Two years later, a friend dropped me a line to let me know that there was going to be a virtual conference held in Second Life with a strong cast of speakers and some pretty interesting topics to be covered.

So, off again I went to install the software and create my new character.  I figured that in two years, things would have improved quite a bit and the process by which n00b’s are assimilated into the world would go much smoother.

I was wrong. A glitch in the tutorial kept me from finishing the final step no matter how many times I logged out, and short of creating a new character, there was nothing I could do to bypass the initial phase and move on to the next step. Frustrated again, I logged out and figured I would delete everything again after the conference.  I did.

On the day of the conference, I took the Second life portal to the “ampitheater” where the conference was held. A few dozen avatars with names like Bobo Wieselthur and Twinkie Ochsenhorn scattered the room. Some dressed in virtual suits, some as Furries (don’t get me started), and the majority in different flavors of the original outfit choice.

I sat around for about 15 minutes while the first presentation was delayed due to technical issues, chatted with a few folks and decided to say screw it and hopped on World of Warcraft.

That’s when I started thinking.  What makes the virtual world of Warcraft so compelling and Second Life so lame? They both claim around 10 Million users (more on those questionable statistics in a later installment) so there must be some value inherent.  Both have their own economies that would probably dwarf a small country.  Both could theoretically serve as the basis for a thriving virtual office.

And that’s my jumping point.  As I ponder the differences, I keep wondering why WOW is more addictive than crack, and Second Life is about as exciting as watching paint dry.  My thought is that if we are ever going to have a compelling, useful, thriving virtual workplace for any business, it is going to need to be a lot more like Warcraft, and a lot less like Second Life.

In the following series of postings, I will be diving into the use of Virtual Worlds for business, what we can learn from a compelling experience and what we can avoid from the mundane.

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