The State of Virtual Worlds – Engage Expo 09 – Part 1

I recently attended the Engage Expo 09 at San Jose on Sept 23-24 and met up with a number of leading lights in the fields of 3D Training Learning and Collaboration ( 3DTLC) and Virtual Worlds in general. It’s a testament to the growth of Virtual Worlds or our understanding of them – that a convention organised around  them has to have 4 different tracks to address the issues surrounding their use and development.

Overall the main ideas that emerged for me  from the conference were :

  1. Enterprise use of 3D immersive interactive environments is picking up but not at the pace desired by the VW community and industry. We are ‘Crossing the Chasm’ on this.
  2. Use of immersive environments for training in Defense and National Security .
  3. Mainstream adoption is at least 3 to 5 years away for Enterprise use.
  4. Need to create unique learning methodologies for 3DTLC.
  5. Growth of Virtual Goods as an industry.
  6. Casual social games are kings of 09 ( think Zynga and Farmville etc.)
  7. The Metaverse will probably not be the Universal Set but rather a sub set of the Web ( a very important paradigm shift in thought here – hopefully will write a more detailed post on this later).
  8. Need for formulating open standards and protocol to better integrate different virtual environments.
  9. Need for standardized laws to govern virtual worlds and transactions there in.

I think these are the main thoughts I took away from the conference. There was  some degree of skepticism and fatalism in some of the early adopters but there was also a growing sense of having to deliver on fundamentals like ROI etc. Overall the mood was serious but optimistic – I personally think that 2010 is going to be a make or break year for many early players in the Industry.

I think the growing awareness of these 3D immersive interactive environments for work and the growing recognition of their utility is a very positive development. I think in 2009 – Virtual Worlds ( I like calling them immersive interactive envionments) have definitely moved beyond the exotic to be more utilitarian and this is greatly encouraging for early movers like Indusgeeks.

– Sid