With all the talk recently about Second Life and how some companies are having second thoughts about the virtual world as a marketing tool, a report in Scientific American contains much food for thought:
[…] Last night at the Digital Life preview a Mattel rep–who, just to make the conversation extra surreal, actually looked sort of like Barbie–told me that in the first 60 days of its existence, the new online virtual world Barbie Girls has signed up three million members, and they’re adding new ones at the rate of 50,000 a day.
[…] Between this and the runaway success of WebKinz and Club Penguin (which, all by itself, already has a valuation of $500 million – nearly what Rupert Murdoch paid for Myspace) I can only imagine what a future populated by people who literally grew up living in virtual worlds would look like.
It’s that last bit that caught my eye more than anything else in this report.
We need to look beyond the dabbling that’s happening at the moment and what’s likely to happen in the immediate term (ie, within the next year or so).
Some companies will indeed give up now on some virtual communities – short sighted, in my view – while others will stay the course, evolving their objectives in tandem with the learning they experience.
So look at examples like Barbie Girls as a clear signal of an evolution where the digital natives are helping shape the world, both real and virtual.
Highly relevant to my earlier post today about the transition is happening.