Recently I attended the DigitalMedia Summit at the McGraw Hill building in Manhattan. There was a lot of talk of “second screen,” the phenomenon of using your other personal smart devices to tell the world your personal 411. Along with an emphasis on bitcoin and online gambling, the search for how to engage an audience and where to monetize was key. At one panel one of the moderators, in responding to a question, admitted that he didn’t know what the next big thing would be. At that point I really felt like raising my hand, getting up, and delivering a speech about the beauty and intensity of virtual world television. Having been sober at the time I did not. However, here is the speech I would have given.
Texting and sending messages during a show, even buying a product from inside of one, are all ways that the second screen is used. It is a way we engage now because we want to be part of the show we are watching. We have made the move forward in both body language and thought, and put them into our smart lives. What is the next step? We wonder, with no time to sign up for another social network (unless they pay us!) and infographics our 411. We are all on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and the list does go on. However we don’t all have avatars…yet.
What avatars can do in the field of entertainment is different than what one can do as an audience member watching a television show, even with friends in a bar or on the latest iProduct. You as the avatar are present in the show or in the game. When you are in a virtual environment, there is an acceptance of the reality that you are in. Stanford University researchers are coming to the conclusion that our brains can’t distinguish virtual reality from actual reality. No matter how immersive a traditional game feels, there is always a separation between you and the television program. As an avatar in a virtual environment, you are “present” in a much different way than as observer solely, or commentator to your own group of friends. In this kind of environment you are there to be in it, so to speak. Virtual world television isn’t a second screen experience — it’s a “living screen experience,” one that will ask more of an audience so that it becomes a more enriching event.
This phenomenon is here because of what the technology of virtual worlds affords us: the inexpensive tools for building sets, the built-in audience that will come to take part of an immersive collective event, and the real time interaction that occurs when people are brought together for a good reason, entertainment!
You can watch TV and comment on it, sure, but with VWTV you have a different kind of access. For example, you can comment on the proceedings and influence what is going on directly in the show through a comment or question. I do not know where you are, but I guarantee you can not get Jimmy Fallon or Dave Letterman to address you directly in any studio audience. And you can not easily chat with every member of the studio audience. Let’s face it, all you can do is applaud or boo in text or voice.
When you are in the realm of virtual world television you can be:
- An audience member, addressing all assembled in open chat text
- An audience member, talking to any specific person in the crowd and possibly the host or guests
- An audience member, accessing online text chat and reporting from the frontlines of the show
- A producer of the show
- A writer of the show
- A guest of the show
- A regular member of the show
- A camera person or crew member
Plus the skills you can learn while being part of the production crew, including camera and screen capture, can give you skills which you can use for your own further career development.
I enjoy watching TV. Please do not take away my Netflix subscription as that Lost weekend I spent watching all 6 seasons was really fun!
But I am also someone who loves being productive and has opinions and enterprise I wish to share. Virtual world television has enabled me to explore a level of creativity and production I never dreamed I could do. I have over 500 show under my belt and a decade worth of experience in synthetic and virtual entertainment. The technology of virtual worlds enabled me to accomplish this on a global platform. I am one person and, while I have a very active imagination, I can only think up what I can. With you, and you, and others, what we can create becomes inspirational even as the shows and content we produce can be aspirational, that which we want to achieve, and if the prize in the game show is a virtual Mercedes Benz, well, all the better.
More importantly this is the democratization of TV, when people are able to create their own entertainment. The greatest virtual story ever told has yet to be written, and it will be fully lived in by those who can enter virtual worlds, either with an avatar or in the nearing future, with an Oculus Rift or similar virtual reality set.
What is different about being part of a virtual world television production versus traditional media? A lot. And it is the living screen that we will embrace as having an avatar becomes as de rigueur as having a Facebook account.