I see London’s Metro is keeping up-to-date. They ran an article this morning “scooping” the fact that “criminals” are selling items and currency for online games such as World of Warcraft and Everquest. This is old news: it has been happening ever since Everquest was released in 1999.
On a more up-to-date note, Wired Online ran an article about musicians holding virtual concerts in a MMORPG setting.
MMORPG stands for “Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game”, an online computer role-playing game (RPG) in which a large number of players interact with one another in a virtual world. Players appear in the game as “Avatars“, graphical representations of themselves.
The article describes artists, such as Suzanne Vega, holding a concert through their online avatars. The concert was attended by perhaps a few dozen people in “person” (ie. their avatars were there). This was due to the technical limitations of the MMORPG they were playing: the system simply couldn’t support any more people in the virtual concert hall. The BBC itself has also staged its “Big Weekend 2006” in the Second Life space.
Of course, a lot of the addictive draw of online gaming is to do with the grinding for cash or items and other so-called “Time Sinks“, but the social element is also very important to a lot of people. The “just another couple of minutes” effect is often to do with a positive feeling of not wanting to let your friends down, rather than purely a negative avoiding real life reponsibilities. People really are building viable communities and friendships online that often spill out into “Real-Life” interactions.
The ability to interact with, not just watch, your entertainment is clearly the way things are going to go. Check out what is happening with Windows Vista and Web 2.0. We’re moving from a publishing/ Media consumer model to a model that supports user-driven content and social networks.
Back to the concert. Sure, it was limited, but big things start small. With the gradual convergence of traditional TV technology and digital/ broadband in the near future, could this be a viable future channel for celebrities and their fans to interact?