I came to the session titled World of Warcraft Versus Second Life because I was skeptical but wanted to expand my horizons. I also thought it would help me understand my son’s fascination for gaming.
I was very surprised to first hear Cindy Hill talk about her virtual work existence when she was at Sun Microsystems. She said that nearly 50 percent of Sun employees now have no assigned physical space and work outside the Sun offices regularly—resulting in monetary and environmental savings for the company. Sun also worked to change the office space so it was more collaborative. It also changed IT so that the distinction between outside and inside is gone. But, here’s the big news: The company will be building a new office named MPK20—but it will only be a virtual building. This will be their own space rather than in Second Life, so they can maintain confidentiality and privacy. People will retain their real names. It will offer an enterprise-grade infrastructure. Design concepts from virtual worlds are now playing into designs for new enterprise work spaces—very cool stuff!
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U.K. consultant Mary Aukland talked about her experiences of playing World of Warcraft—dressed in costume. She said there are 6 million players, each paying about $20 per month. It crosses generations and genders. She plays to chill out—it’s her form of relaxation. It also has sharpened her mental abilities and increased her eye-hand coordination. She also does it for social networking. It has taught her about herself and to be more assertive. It is also a good tool for encouraging reading—something that eases my mind over my son’s involvement with the game.
For libraries, the implications concern how people are organizing themselves in guilds and how they work in teams. And here’s a thought–Tomorrow’s CEOs are all playing Warcraft now!
Lori Bell’s whole family is involved—daughter, son, and husband all playing World of Warcraft while she stays in Second Life. She had the figure of 9 million players for WofW. People frequently don’t know what to do in Second Life, since there aren’t really games—so the retention rate isn’t very high. Both virtual worlds are addictive and fun.
Liz Lawley discussed some of her concerns about both—giving just a small preview of her afternoon keynote. Her 13 year old son loves SL. For him it fills a gap for his lack of control in the real world. For her, remodeling a real house is enough work.
She said that Second Life becomes a solution in search of a problem for most adults. Take a step back and ask why you are using it. “I can’t do anything in SL that I have an unmet need for in the real world.” She’s troubled by the segregation of adults and kids in SL—while in World of Warcraft she can interact and play with her children.
But with both, you need to ask why you are using them. It’s important to at least try these environments so we understand the dialog and the issues. From games, we can learn about what motivates people.
Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief
Information Today, Inc.