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  ‘The Lounge’ Is Dead:  Long Live ‘The Lounge’  
Posted 2007-08-14 by Tony Walsh
First, developers Evil Twin created the Pussy Cat Doll Lounge, a small adverworld geared towards promoting recording artists The Pussy Cat Dolls. Then, Evil Twin changed its name to Doppleganger. Then, Doppleganger changed the name of The Pussy Cat Doll Lounge to The Music Lounge. This weekend, Doppleganger switched its focus to vSide, a much more expansive and ambitious virtual world project which includes districts, social systems, and user-operated private spaces--vSide is large enough that it actually contains The Lounge in its NewVenezia district.

Here's hoping for fewer name-changes down the virtual road.

[Update: Virtual Worlds News reports that with the launch of vSide, Doppleganger has announced $11M in new funding and the addition of three new real-world brands to its roster of brand-placements.]
  links for 2007-08-11  
Posted 2007-08-11 by Tony Walsh
Posted 2007-08-06 by Tony Walsh
Bah, I won't be able to attend FaceBookCampToronto tomorrow. Sounds like a great way to get the creative and technical juices flowing--lots of potential in Facebook Applications still to be tapped, and Toronto's got a solid, long-lived development scene ready to take up the challenge. I noted a few familiar local people and firms on the list of attendees, wish I could join in the fun, but I've got diapers to deal with.
  Microsoft’s Cross-Platform Ad Play  
Posted 2007-07-30 by Tony Walsh
Advertising Age looked into Microsoft's "Live Anywhere" ad strategy last week, finding that audiences are being offered to advertisers by demographic or game preference rather than by platform. Live Anywhere spans the Xbox 360, Windows PC, and according to Ad Age, mobile spaces. One identity is tracked across platforms, so Live users could be targeted by personal details--such as age, sex, and location--submitted when signing up for Microsoft services. As far as I can tell from using Xbox Live in San Francisco and Toronto, users are already being targeted with local ads based on where the system is accessed (common in internet advertising).

The Ad Age article quotes an analyst, who says Live Anywhere is "easy to leverage for advertisers. You can integrate advertising that won't be intrusive, [and] you can also target ads more effectively." Well, sure, you can integrate non-intrusive advertising, but from personal experience, Xbox Live is cluttered with banner ads, demonstrating that the people in charge don't care about intrusion. Given that Microsoft's ad play results from last year's purchase of Massive--an in-game advertising company with a habit of ruining games--I doubt the power to target gamers across platforms will be used responsibly.

When I first subscribed to Xbox Live, there weren't any advertisements. Now, the service is littered with blatant ads, yet the service still costs me sixty bucks a year. A brave new wave of cross-platform ads may soon wash over Live Anywhere, but what benefit do gamers receive?
  links for 2007-07-30  
Posted 2007-07-30 by Tony Walsh
  ‘Shop OnRez’ Brings Slick Shopping Experience to ‘Second Life’  
Posted 2007-07-26 by Tony Walsh
The Electric Sheep Company has launched "Shop OnRez," its re-vamped, re-branded shopping system for Second Life fusing a web-based shopping experience with an in-world kiosk system, wrapped in a slick Web 2.0-esque aesthetic. Interestingly, the new consumer brand's only obvious connection to the Electric Sheep Company is a tiny copyright notice at the bottom of Shop OnRez web pages.

Vendors on the old "SLBoutique" system have been automatically migrated to Shop OnRez. On the plus side, the new system appears to offer improved functionality and accessibility for both sellers and buyers, increasing the lubrication of commerce. On the minus side, it appears that some manual adjustments will be required of vendors, not the least of which is re-deploying in-world inventory boxes. This isn't a big issue for small vendors such as myself, but I can imagine it could be a headache for those with dozens of boxes in-world.

The system's new Terms of Service will be of interest to any legal beagles--it seems to be at least as long as those for Second Life itself. A stellar job of ass-covering there, in my completely unqualified legal opinion.
  Study: Young People See Technology As Means to End  
Posted 2007-07-24 by Tony Walsh
MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft released summary findings today from surveys of 18,000 tech-savvy young people across the globe indicating that technology itself isn't as important as the activities technology facilitates: Namely communication, social networking, self-expression, and entertainment.

The surveys also found:
  • Marketers are as influential and important as friends.
  • Digital communications and social networking compliment, rather than compete with TV.
  • Technology enhances, rather than replaces in-person interaction.
  • Japanese young people generally don't have their own computers until college-age, but do use mobile phones.
  • Chinese young people look to the internet to connect with others, since they have no siblings.
  • Young people of Italy, Brazil and Australia use mobiles to meet up, socialize, and take pictures.
  • Danes "can't live without" mobiles or TV. The Dutch "can't live without" email.
It's worth reiterating that the surveys were conducted with "tech embracing" kids and young people, therefore conclusions like "Young people are now constantly connected," or "There is a powerful link between TV and the Internet," uttered by MTV Network's Fahey Rush are forgone, in my opinion. How would the survey have been different if the other side of the digital divide had been polled?
  links for 2007-07-24  
Posted 2007-07-24 by Tony Walsh
  links for 2007-07-23  
Posted 2007-07-23 by Tony Walsh
  AdSense For Games?  
Posted 2007-07-20 by Tony Walsh
Google AdSense is coming to games, according to notes Kim Pallister of Microsoft Casual Games jotted down during the Casual Connect conference. AdSense, in case you aren't aware, is Google's widespread ad-serving program, in use here at Clickable Culture and zillions of other blogs and web sites. It's easy to set up and can be quite profitable with enough clickthroughs.

I'm glad to hear that AdSense is coming to games. Hopefully the system will be as easy to implement as Google's traditional AdSense program--embedding code directly into Flash or Shockwave games would be ideal. One benefit of embedded ads is that it actually makes piracy of AdSense-equipped games profitable for the creator--the more exposure the game gets, the more potential revenue. AdSense inside games could also work well inside Facebook (although I've heard clickthroughs on Facebook are abysmal). Any way you slice it, the development is good for indie game-makers.
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