Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Great Time To Invest in Virtual Worlds?

Location: Building the Usher Family Crypt


As I paste megaprims together in Jokaydia Grid, I read of two exciting developments for educators using virtual worlds: John Lester's job as Director of Community Development at Reaction Grid and Avatar Reality's announcement that Blue Mars will be able to launch well on the Mac OS, older PC hardware, the iPhone and iPad (and soon) even on a fast wireless connection.

Why should educators strapped for cash invest now? Although I have never been one to proclaim that anyone actually owns land in a virtual world, the situation today is analogous to the real-estate market. With competition for Linden Lab now and lower prices, it's a good time to get started.
  • In Second Life mainland pricing is very low and other closed grids like InWorldz and Blue Mars are offering service and content that are catching up to SL fast without SL's reputation for cybersex and griefing (unfair though that may be).
  • In many OpenSim grids the emergence of hypergate jumps allows connections between locally owned and hosted grids, so we have an archipelago of worlds that can scale, limited only by the number of servers distributed across the planet. That model seems to have worked pretty well for the 2D internet.
  • OpenSim stability continues to improve, in my personal experience and according to Maria Korolov's recent survey, 84% of OpenSim users would recommend the technology to others. and Mesh, groups, and other features that many SLers love (or want to have) will soon be there. With that comes the avalanche of content from Google's 3D Warehouse.
I'm sanguine enough about this moment to spend out-of-pocket for my sim at Jokaydia Grid (it's a bargain). In time, with a proof of concept there and, one presumes, a simpler UI, I want to show colleagues on my campus again why virtual worlds matter for building simulations. Then the institution can make the next step of hosting its own grid or renting space again.

By then I'll have our own hypergate at Nevermore sim, in a family graveyard beyond the House. It will resemble Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, including W.W. Poole's tomb. He's the Richmond Vampire, and his crypt is locked as if to keep something inside. I'll toss the doors open and make that our hypergate to the growing worlds beyond our bit of rented land.

Feels like starting all over from the lessons, good and bad, learned in the last four years.

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