Given how often the amateur versus expert issue raises itself in relation to Second Life -- whether in terms of content creation, medical research, game creation, etc -- it seems somehow appropriate to watch Raph and Prokofy slug it out over on Raph's blog. In the blue corner we have Raph Koster, till recently SOE's Chief Creative Office and Big Thinker (tm) on Virtual Worlds. In the red corner, Prokofy Neva, undisputed heavywieght champion of extended posts, big thoughts on Second Life, and continuous challenges to authority. Go read it -- it's interesting.
I haven't felt the need to post, but one sequence caught my eye. Raph posted the following:
I personally believe this is a mistaken take on things. I’ll be bold and say:
- no, it’s demonstrably less fun, to the vast majority of people, in SL than in most any of the gameworlds
- the gameworlds have historically been what has driven adoption in virtual spaces
- the gameworlds have historically been what has driven lasting innovation
- the future of the metaverse is going to come from gameworlds, not freeform social worlds
I don’t want to overstate this, but in short, I’d issue a plea to folks like Prokofy, Jerry, and others, to let go of social world exceptionalism
To which the only reply, of course, is:
Would you be willing to give up on online game exceptionalism? :-)
Since entering into the argument at this point would be silly, I'll simply pour gasoline all over the place by asking a couple of questions:
- How many people use the web versus gameworlds? (Being generous to the games, it's 20 to 1)
- Raph is quick to dismiss Second Life as "just a MUSH" -- and leaving aside the separate 3D versus text debate that I've sometimes ventured into -- I still find the claim that innovation is happening in gameworlds somewhat challenging. Given the number of announced gameworlds trying to pivot onto Second Life innovations -- user creation, collaborative creation, user markets, content markets, pay-to-play, no subscription, digital delivery, single shard, streaming content delivery -- what are the innovations in the gameworld space?
As to the question of fun or usage, debating it does seem a little silly. Second Life has show gentle exponential growth since it launched. Either that trend will continue or it will not. If it does, exponential growth combined with the fact that we address a much larger market than games means that we will dwarf gameworlds. If not, we won't.
So, do you want to bet on Linden Lab's employees plus Anshe, Perkofy, Walker, and the hundreds of thousands of other SL residents? Or do you bet on Blizzard, Raph, Daniel and the hundreds of other really smart folks making online games?
Hopefully, you won't have to make the choice, because if we do our job right, many of them will ultimately be building games within Second Life.