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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Simplified Virtual Worlds: Nexon Maplestory

A good article in BusinessWeek online on alternate virtual worlds. In particular about Nexon's Maplestory, which is a virtual world that originated in Korea and now has hundreds of thousands of Koreans logged on at any time. The game is described as being far simpler and easier to customize than Second Life. Tailored specifically for non-techies. The form of the Maplestory avatars appear to be too 'cute' for a more cynical western audience, which may require a cultural adjustment. Maplestory is starting to gain traction in the US, with Target selling cash cards which can be used in the virtual world. This is a rare non-research connection between virtual worlds and big retail. An example of virtual worlds going mainstream as an entertainment interface.

I have now spent since November informally looking at Second Life and other examples of virtual worlds. There are striking differences between social uses of worlds and their use as business environments. Though there is also a clear similarity .. where SL works well, in business as well as social applications, is where it is stocked with lots of live avatars that link reality to the virtual space.

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