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GDC08: Leigh Alexander introduces us to Worlds in Motion

Michael Zenke

The Worlds in Motion summit kicked off this morning with an introduction from Leigh Alexander, the organizer of the event. Leigh is the blogger-in-residence over at CMP's Worlds in Motion, a site we've linked to many times here from Massively. In her work there, she does what she can to highlight the work of pioneers in the Virtual World industry.

This morning, she asked the basic question: What does gaming have to do with Virtual Worlds? We normally think of VWs as brand experiences, collaborative business environments, or opportunities for social interaction like Second Life. So what do these virtual spaces, the leadup to the 'Metaverse', have to do with gaming?

Gallery: GDC 08: Worlds in Motion summit | 62 Photos

She hilariously whipped out a comment that someone had left on her blog in the past:

"The metaverse includes augmented reality, life-logging, mirror worlds and immersive environments. It will be accessible from untethered devices, some of which we'll wear. The metaverse will overlay the real, and the real will appear in the virtual. Which of these emerging areas has the greatest potential for shifting how people play?"

She laughed, and said "Does anyone know what the heck that means?" The point she was making was that it's easy to slip into out-and-out wankery when discussing these issues. That probably stems from the origin of Virtual Worlds, and the concept of the Metaverse. She pointed out that the idea of a virtual environment has its seeds in fiction, with many people referring to Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash. An industry that sprung in part from one man's fiction ... hmm, that sounds familiar. "Virtual Worlds are a little like Scientology." Big laughs throughout the room at that crack.

She went on to talk about GDC as a storied pillar of the games industry, and easy fit that virtual worlds make into that mix. A lot of ways of looking at interaction and play are very new. The Worlds in Motion summit, over today and tomorrow, aim to buck the trend and think about 'the now'. Taking high concepts and translating them into real products and services "To reveal and explore ... to inject new ideas into the experiences of tomorrow."

With that done, she stepped back to introduce the first speaker of the day, Raph Koster. Who, as Leigh put it, did not come prepared with the speech she asked for ...

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