Thursday, July 8, 2010

Blizzard's Push to go REAL

I recently read a post on Truth/Slant about Blizzard's new efforts to go augmented reality, which of coarse brought many things to mind for me. First up, as a 15+ year veteran of the 3D Web, as I call this, I am very familiar with the duality of our existence online. I’ve never made it a secret that behind the character name, Tessa Harrington, is the real me, Tessa Kinney-Johnson, 15+ year veteran of the 3D Web, as I call this, and the Co-Founder/COO of, a new 3D Web World software that really pushes the idea of augmented reality. Whew! That was a mouthful.

So, after all that I’m sure you can imagine what side of the fence I fall on here. I don’t believe things are as dire as Paul Tassi @ Truth/Slant would like to think as long as this is handled responsibly. I can't give a unequivocal nods to Blizzard, as I’ve not had time to really research all the details of their RealID program. I do know they give you the option of whether to participate or not with your game character. If they do the opposite on the forums, allowing you to choose if you link your game character to your RealID forum accounts, then I think that’s not only good news, but a responsible way to go about it. The linking of the two should ALWAYS BE VOLUNTARY. The only exception to this would be in the case of behaviors that, if done in real life, would constitute a crime, such as harassment, stalking and the like, and even then that should mean your info only gets shared with the proper authorities. A banned account should be enough notice to those inside and out of the game environment that someone has trespassed and have reaped the consequences of their behaviors. It also gives notice to those that would think to grief that game in retribution, that they could be held responsible in real world terms, which I think – again – is not a bad thing.

What many might not think about is that this may also be a result of a lot of legal work that’s been going on behind the scenes since the Craig stalking incident and online bullying of kids, businesses and adults. When you start seeing real crimes connected to online behaviors then our legal authorities have no choice but to deal with them in a very real way. That includes requiring gaming companies, online forums, and blog sites to rein in and establish some standards that have some real teeth.

Having said that, I think there will always be games online that will won’t tie ID’s to their gamers and I think they will become the places folks hang out in who can’t restrain themselves from being “bad”. Question is, will mainstream users still be willing to tolerate such risks these "anonymous" sites would present, after experiencing the calming effects accountability tends to have on their community. If we’ve learned anything from the last 15 years of wild west standards online, is that without some level of accountability for our behaviors, we as human beings can be just as brutal, inhuman and unethical as we can be open, caring and generous.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The 3D Evolution of the Web - Its Here

Few look at the Internet as an application by which modern human evolution is spawned, but as we've watched technology grow from the telegraph to Skype® we've seen this curious impulse to try and replicate and expand our reality into our online experiences.

How did this start? With the invention of the Web Page, a simple upgrade of the text based bulletin board, where the word ruled the day. Gone were solitary stale pages of text. They were replaced by colorful imagery, video and sound that we could click on and interact with like never before. Like a bare wall waiting for the wild spray of graffiti, we openly painted our thoughts and ideas on these digital canvasses with code and pixels.

The Techno-Renaissance had begun, yet one was still left basically staring at static wordy versions of our TV’s. People shadow boxed around each other on these pages, never truly connecting simply because they didn’t know anyone was there to reach out to. Enter Social Media in the form of MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter, and many more. If there ever was a doubt people wanted to connect, the viral growth of these community web zones settled that. Millions of people logged on daily to bridge the desperate gap of their geographically dissected relationships. They flocked to reach out and bring their clans, extended families and friends together again, and even added new people to the fold from connections that circled the globe. Yet, there was still a longing for something more like real life. People were still READING PAGES instead of SHARING WEB SPACES.

Then came MMORPG’S & Life Simulation games such as The Sims Online ® & World of Warcraft®. Millions found themselves gathering in groups, communicating, and creating experiences through game play that were tantalizingly realistic. They were sharing these spaces, but if they strayed off the script of the game it was only in a text dialogue, since they were limited to what was predestined by the game maker. That’s when the arrival of Virtual Worlds such a Second Life® gave people the freedom they craved to create their own dialogue, clothing, animations, scripts and more – to be the designers of their own game!

In this magical Camelot-like era people started valuing their avatars and their possessions in real world terms. Player accounts were sold on Ebay®, love affairs spawned real life marriages and children. Game collaborations turned into real careers and incomes, as mainstream businesses and marketing firms crashed upon the scene offering big ticket contracts. Universities and training companies forged alliances with noted artist, creating utopian vistas and innovative ways to make learning more portable and intuitive. But, this also heralded in the legal and economical concerns of real life. Separation of the “wild wild west” player class from the more reality based biz and educational sectors was desired, as well as a more biz friendly IP stance, and greater stability. They also expressed a need for security as new content theft tools threatened to decimate the low cost 3D creator market. These unanswered requests eventually lead businesses, virtual and real world, to vacate the Virtual World experience as quickly as they’d come in.

As a result of this shift and recent criminal incidents in real life that were directly attributed to online interactions, leaders in the legal, entertainment and social media sectors have responded by using systems like OpenID®, PayPal® and others as a payment and/or authentication step. Giants like Blizzard’s® World of Warcraft, Facebook, and LinkedIN push the boundaries by asking us to link to two up. Instead of scaring folks away, its resulted in them growing. Facebook registrations have increased from 30m users in 2005 to well over 400m. LinkedIN has gone from 35M in 2007 to 70m today. The world seems to understand that for the Internet to fulfill its promise we all have to accept that it can't be done anonymously.

3DWeb Worlds are the next obvious evolutionary step in merging our real lives with our online interests, offering all the tools, economy and social structure that replicates our real life existences, but giving us an affordable global reach. With that must come reality - not just the sense of being real online. Laws, business standards and real world decorum has to play a role in the evolution, and thus, why predominantly recreational virtual worlds like®, Sims Online®, and Second Life® are gone or struggling to evolve to the next phase. They all held out this Utopian ideal of open online societies with thriving economies that could create and support real businesses and careers. But what they forgot to do was institute any real world structures and standard to protect the outcome their users investments.

SpotON3D's 3D Web Worlds and Grid Systems are designed to fix this. By no later than mid August, SpotON3D will be rolling out an ambitious line of Cloud & Grid products that address the needs of many business & corporations, academic institutions, and non-profits groups as well as those individuals and creative teams who simply want to create their vision for recreational use. As we've always said at SpotON3D - 'Its not about any one grid. Its about expanding beyond any one virtual world, game or social hot spot. Its about building the 3D Web for tomorrow.

If you're a Business, Academic or Non-profit org. and would like more information email us at

If you are a creator who wants to expand and sees the potential of what SpotON3D is doing, drop us and email at Approved vendors will be given a free starter shop in our Creator Islands central market, as well as have their setup fees waved for select land rentals. Please note that these offers are limited in number and the time period they'll be offered.