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Flamed and Shamed. Virtual Worlds Get Real About Punishment

Kim Hart, a Washington Post writer has written an interesting article about moderation in virtual worlds – a crucial element to manage for KT&T worlds, but applicable to all ages.


Virtual worlds have often been called the digital equivalent of the Wild West, where animated alter egos can live in a fantasy frontier. But in some of these universes, a sheriff has come to town.

Slipping a four-letter word into an instant message now could land a user in a virtual timeout. Repeated attempts to make friends with an uninterested character could result in a loss of blogging privileges. And if convicted of starting a “flame war,” or an exchange of hostile messages, a user may endure the ultimate punishment — permanent exile.

A virtual world for mobile devices, called Cellufun, has established a courthouse, where rule-breakers are indicted by their peers and tried by a jury of other community members. If found guilty of a charge, such as using profanity, users must carry out varying levels of sentences, from being mute for 20 minutes to being banished.

Full article is here.

Thematistico! Second Life

In the first of this series we looked at the search term “Virtual Worlds“. Now it’s time to focus in onto specific virtual worlds and the best place to start is probably Second Life.

The graph shown right presents the Google Insights evaluation of geographical interest in this search time, and it tells an interesting (if not completely unsurprising) story.

A slow and steady gradual increase in searches from 2004 through to 2006 then basically an explosion in searches coming into 2007. The two peaks in early/mid 2007 correspond to a time period which saw the most brands enter Second Life. And, the overall shape is not a million miles away from the Gartner Hype Curve – dovetailing into the media frenzy witnessed over this period. But, with every rise comes a fall , as shown in the graph from mid 2007 onwards.

From a geographical perspective, the graph left shows search popularity in 2006. The Netherlands comes out on top, followed closely by Ireland. Dutch brands and companies were one of the quickest to move into Second Life and the resident population also moved in quickly. On an overall basis, every continent apart from Africa was getting interested in SL in 2006.

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The interactive virtual music video

The Radiohead song ?¢‚ǨÀúHouse of Cards directed by James Frost is rather interesting. Basically, in an image driven entirely by data, you’re able to watch a digital head sing the song and actually interact with the singer by changing the perspective. That’s a pretty bad explanation, so Dizzy Banjo has a more accurate one and of course a link to the video, here.

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Mapping the “Virtual Worlds”. Thematistico!

Thematic maps are lovely tools for showing data in an easy fashion – and you know us K Zero folks love pretty graphs.

So, using Google Insight we can chuck in search strings and see the global geographical popularity of virtual world related phrases and names. But a single snapshot only tells a piece of the story, so a useful function of Google Insight is viewing data and trends over time.

Let’s do that. Starting with the term “Virtual Worlds” the graphs below show the hotspots thematically. Here’s 2005.

The UK leads global interest (as far as Google Insight is concerned) with virtual worlds in 2005. The US comes in second, with an index almost half of the UK. Next? Canada, followed by Taiwan and a few Western European countries. Here we’re also starting to see the Brazilians fascination with virtual worlds.

The graph shown right is for 2006. The UK is holding its own, still ahead of North America but interestingly Australia comes in at first place. Reasons for countries like Australia and Brazil being popular? I’ll offer my thoughts here. Perhaps very large countries with a small number of large but disparate cities means these people find resonance in virtual spaces as a method of connectivity. Continue reading →

“It would cost a billion to take on WoW”

Monumental Games is the developer company working with Cybersports to create Football Superstars. is carrying a storytodayquoting Monumental CEO Rik Alexander explaining the strategic move away from fantasy-led MMO’s and towards a football-themed ‘vertical world’.


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Marketing strategies in virtual worlds: The 7 Points

Back in 2006 K Zero released the first ever strategic framework for companies wishing to deploy marketing into virtual worlds – The 7 Point Plan.

Today, the updated 7 Point Plan for Marketing in Virtual Worlds is released, incorporating the freshest strategic recommendations for marketers wishing to move into the metaverse space in 2008/9. This report is free and available on request here.

The 15 page report contains the following sections:

What is a virtual world?

Why are virtual worlds growing?

Who is a typical resident?

The media landscape

Point 1: This is marketing, so have a plan

Point 2: Design is an output, not an input

Point 3. Integrate

Point4. Giving is better than receiving

Point5. Keep the seats warm

Point6. Stoke the fire

Point7. Promote and cross-promote

Included in the report are examples of marketing campaigns in Second Life, vSide, Stardoll, vMTV and many other virtual worlds. Brands and companies in the report include DKNY, Sephora, Warner Bros, L’Oreal Paris, Pepsi and many others.

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The Virtual Worlds Innovation Awards

Virtual Worlds Management are launching a new awards programme at the LA show. These awards are to recognise companies and initiatives pushing the boundaries of the sector in new and exciting ways.

The winners will be announced at 5pm PST on Wed Sep 3. I’m one of the judges for these awards, joined byChristian Renaud (CEO, Technology Intelligence Group), Erica Driver (Co-Founder and Principal, ThinkBalm), Steve Prentice (VP and Fellow, Gartner), and Robert Bloomfield (Founder and Host, Metanomics; Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Director of the Business Simulation Laboratory, Cornell’s Johnson School, pause for breath).

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Latest Football Superstars video

Football Superstars is currently in closed beta. Here’s the latest video. The latest marketing news for FS is here.

The Explorers updated. Marketing across different virtual worlds

Over the next few months we’re going to an uplift in brands and companies marketing across a range of virtual worlds. We’re seeing a rise in companies allocating marketing budgets into the virtual worlds space primarily from brands who have been watching the space for a while and deciding now’s (or pretty soon) the time to engage.

Of course, great news for virtual world operators but potentially putting downward pressure on the prices worlds are able to charge for in-world marketing activities. However, worlds coming down the pipeline (launching shortly) may have a slight upper hand if their proposition is tightly focussed into a particular interest group/theme or demographic.

So, ‘The Explorers’ has been updated (below) to show the brands that are already marketing in virtual worlds (excluding Second Life). Also included are worlds not launched yet that already have brands signed-up to be present at launch.

In the kids, tween and early teens space, there’s been 49 marketing campaigns in virtual worlds. Whyville, Habbo andStardollhave seen the lions’ share of activity with 9, 8 and 8 campaigns respectively.

I’d like to say here that the longer a world has been active the more likely they are to have had marketing campaigns take place in them. This is true to a degree but worlds like Frenzoo (not launched yet), WeeWorld (only recently a virtual world) and Vizwoz are bucking this trend by bringing brands in at early stages of their development.

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Upcoming speaking engagements

It’s expo-nential

Virtual Worlds Expo LA (3-4 Sep): I’ll be moderating theVirtual Worlds By The Numbers: A Look at the Market Research panel (on the Hollywood track). Other panelists:Steve Prentice (VP & Gartner fellow, Gartner),Michael Cai (Director, Broadband & Gaming, Parks Associates),Barry Gilbert (Vice President, Strategy Analytics) andBrian Dunbar (EVP Client Services, Millions of Us).

VirtualWorldsEurope London (6-8 Oct): I’ll be running a workshop:Establishing metrics ?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú key performance measurement for virtual worlds and MMO. This is designed for marketers looking to build a deeper understanding of virtual world campaigns and initiatives and I’ll be using metrics from Stardoll, Second Life and a few other worlds.

Virtual Worlds London (20-21 Oct): I’ll be on the Numbers panel again for this one as well as a judge on FastPitch

Also, for attendees of the LA and London Virtual Worlds Mgmt shows we’ve written an exclusive report looking into the key strategies deployed in virtual worlds during 2008 and our forecasts for 2009, which is nice.

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