As a Multimedia Developer and Visual Communications Instructor, I am always on the lookout for changes in the areas of multimedia development, web technology, and design trends. The latest trend being the Web 3.0 movement. Don’t get me wrong, I think Facebook is awesome, but as the new “King of the Internet” emerges, Facebook must inevitably step down. In order for us, as Web consumers, to continue our perpetual journey to the next technological plateau, we must constantly be on the lookout for the next best thing. That being said, I present: “The Death of Facebook”.
So, before i start receiving millions of angry wall posts, I want to explain why i believe this trend is coming faster than most think and what progressive businesses and organizations need to look for in Facebook’s Web 3.0 successor. Facebook has opened the floodgates to the social networking phenomena. Businesses are quickly realizing that it is becoming the most direct way to reach almost any demographic. First let me pay homage to the past by first defining the Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 movement.
Web 1.0 would be the dawn of the Internet, denoted by the emergence of millions of websites created to provide information that could be accessed online, your basic informational website. Sites like Yahoo and Google rose to the top as the place to find all information. In recent years the web has evolved from simply the use of finding information to the rise of interactivity through the Internet.
Web 2.0 also referred to as internet 2.0 is the movement of the web advanced to providing commerce, communication, and basic interaction. In this arena, sites like Facebook.com, Twitter, and YouTube reign supreme. The ability to post images, text, and video in addition to the interactive advances that emerged from Web 1.0 such as emailing, chatting, VoIP, and Video conference are quickly reshaping the way that Business and Education are being done. With this new wave of web 2.0 technologies, E-Businesses are selling, E-consumers are buying, E-Courses are being taught, and E-students are learning, all from the comfort of their own homes or offices. The need for face to face business and interaction is slowly being replaced by video chats and peer ratings. It’s a brave new world, but until recently we have only been able to access it and not really experience it.
This brings me back to my earlier statement. Although we are still a few years away from evolving passed Facebook and the like, many entrepreneurs and web analysts are looking at the development of the future of the web. Web 3.0 defines the Internet connected virtual environments that have come on the scene in the last few years.These environments are 3D virtual worlds in which users’ avatars can be used to communicate and interact with other users within the virtual environment. The most notable start has been in the video gaming arena with the rise in popularity of Mass Multi-player Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG). Since then, more businesses and educational entities are beginning to understand the impact of Virtual Worlds and how this trend is becoming more prominent in the world of marketing and networking.
Being heavily involved in video games and interactive multimedia, I have had the pleasure of experiencing the three most prominent Virtual Worlds available World of Warcraft, Second Life and Entropia Universe, as well as several others. These Virtual environments are just the beginning of the evolution of communication and interaction.
Lets start with World of Warcraft (WoW) created by Blizzard Entertainment. WoW has definitely defined the Virtual World industry. Set in an action packed fantasy fiction world of Ogres, Elves, Dragons, and mythical creatures all wrapped in an expansive and in-depth ethereal middle earth-like setting, World of Warcraft has open the doors of possibility in the realm of MMO’s. In World of Warcraft, players create an avatar, or character be it Human, Dwarf, Ogre, or there choice of the other unique character types. From there you are given charge to explore the world, learn skills, complete quests, battle creatures, raise your character’s ability level, and more. You avatar’s look, abilities, and skills can be developed in many different ways and the unique way that you play creates different options for you in the game.
The unique quality of WoW compared to other games in the is the ability to also play the game with the millions of other WoW players. This is where the advancement of Web 3.0 technologies come into play. All players online at any given time are in the same virtual world. The ability to connect with other players means that you can buy and sell items to other players, accomplish quests cooperatively, communicate vocally and through text, become a member of a group or faction, enter competitions, and build relationships based on your interaction with others. Because of the unique level of interaction i have even seen people “in-game” who are not even playing the game, but rather, are just their to socialize. The level of relationship and connections that are developed through this form of interaction is amazing.
Within the world you can use your skill to gain WOW gold, items, and prestige. Because the game is always connected to the Internet, the virtual world is constantly updated throughout the virtual world from new items and quests every quarter to Halloween decorations in October. Every couple years WOW adds full game expansions that add more area to the map and different characters and items to choose from. The business model for WoW is a th interesting. Users pay $15 a month to play, which pays for all the updates, expansions, and Blizzard Ent. pizza parties. With so much going for it it is no surprise that WoW has become the pinnacle of the MMORPG model.
So what can the creators of the future Web 3.0 king take from WoW?
1. Constant updates to the world
2. Prestige through more interaction and character development
3. The ability to do more than just play the game but to interact with other
4. The option to join and create factions and groups
5. The necessity of interactivity to accomplish more difficult goals
6. Users pay monthly fee to play
Second Life has opened the door to virtual commerce and business in virtual worlds that can transfer to real world revenue. I have experienced Second life and been extremely intrigued by the freedom of expression and the way that people interact. Second life is a virtual world that is set in a very realistic setting. You can create items, sell things, buy land, build houses, and interact with other people within the world. People can create their characters, form businesses, host parties, and make friends all within the constructs of an open ended virtual environment.
Second Life has its own currency and you can use real money to exchange for Linden Dollars (Second Life’s virtual currency). You can spend money to enhance your “avatar”, buy clothes, property, cars, toys, memberships to clubs, and whatever else someone else is selling. It has a way of opening your eyes to what people would be like if they could do anything. I have seen shy workaholics transform into sexy and savvy entrepreneurs and quiet wallflowers become the life of the party. It is amazing how people manifest their innermost being when they have the freedom to do so. When people are in Second Life they feel more comfortable and they are more susceptible to marketing. Due to this fact, large companies like Toyota and Coca Cola have already claimed property and began marketing in Second Life.
1.The opportunity for open creativity and unique entrepreneurship
2. User-controlled environment
3. Commercial Advertisement
4. Socially Driven environment
Entropia Universe is very much the same in theory as Second life, but, with the added bonus of being in an alternate reality. I use the term alternate loosely as neither worlds are “real” but Entropia Universe has a fiction based storyline that sets the pace and meaning behind the things you do. Entropia has the unique perspective of setting up “Planets” within the Entropia Universe. These Planets are actually individual businesses that invest into what is really the first Virtual World Franchise. Each Planet has a theme and members have goals and factions that call for specific tasks to be completed. These tasks such as crafting items, finding materials, hunting creatures, and interacting with other players all works toward the ultimate goal of making money but may come at a cost.
Entropia is free to play but the opportunity is also there to gain new materials and items through the exchange of real money for virtual currency credit. Players can charge credit cards and link bank accounts to the system. The most interesting thing about Entropia is that it’s world system is based on a real cash engine, so that virtual currency earned in the game is also able to be withdrawn as real money. With the right amount of time and effort one could actually make a real living through their work in this virtual world.
1. Real Money earning
2. Seemingly unlimited personal and game development potential
3. “Freedom” within boundaries
These virtual worlds are just the beginning of the Web 3.0 boom. Continue to watch as this trend begins to affect the rest of the world’s industries. At some point there may even be opportunities of employment simply to play in these worlds just to market a product or boost sales for a business.