MMO (Massive Multi-player Online) Games, mySpace, Crowdsourcing, Copyright, and Business

There are so many interesting things to talk about this week that have been marinating in my brain and seems to intersect at several common points and are summed up into social networking or computer mediated communication. As we move into this brave new world our concepts and understandings of copyright, business, and education are changing right before our eyes. Take a moment to recognize, we, you and I are right in the middle of what academics call a paradigm shift. Is anyone paying attention? I suspect most mainstream businesses or educational systems have no clue it’s happening.

I’ve read several good articles over the past week that contributed to my thinking—the first was in Business 2.0 discussing the innovation happening in publishing with the advent of LuLugiving power back to the author and taking it from the publiher. I couldn’t find the Business 2.0 article published online but here is the another one written in the Washington Post. This then led me to an article on Wired discussing a phenomenon they call Crowdsourcing along with a list of companies who’ve used the technique to make lots of money from providing a conduit for people to make a sale, collaborate, or make a micro-content sale.

One of the most interesting sites mentioned that I will explore in-depth is called Second Life, it is a ‘mainstream’ version of a MMO game, and I say mainstream in the sense of online users because most of the mainstream don’t know about it yet.

What’s really interesting about the MMO games is most of teenagers are playing and business is not only good for the game developers but for the gamers. For example, if you’re a good player then what is happening are good players are selling their accounts. And although this is against the TOU (Terms of Use) for the games it happens and I’ve seen single gaming accounts selling for between 250 and 1,000 dollars each on eBay.

There is also something called “chinese farmers”, this is the practice of hiring low-cost Chinese gamers to farm virtual goods to sell to richer gamers. Its no surprise this is happening even in the virtual world where we’ve always outsourced the drudge work and games are full of such drudge/menial labor to get ahead. So the creative, entrepreneur saw a need and filled it—they have built a business on virtual items. Some say this is exploiting the gamers who play the game for the business owner but if it weren’t a win-win for everyone would the players in the third world countries be working? I’m not sure—everyone has to start somewhere.

In addition since mySpace has become such a large phenomenon—people with a large number of friends are selling their ‘bulletins’ or announcements to their friends. So for example someone who has 1,000 or more friends will be willing to post something about your product or service to their list. This is a great way to get the buzz going—but of course you have to remember who their friends will be on mySpace. And decide if their list or interests will be broad enough for your product or service. But again an interesting concept and relatively inexpensive.

Finally, another key advertising tool being used effectively on the web is buying text links on well respected, content related sites to your own. It is a great way to increase your search engine page rank if you buy links of sites with high page rank in addition it will help you get more visitors to your site at an affordable monthly price. The reason this is effective is because ALLof the major search engines determine your site’s popularity by text links and getting quality text links helps boost your site’s popularity.

The interesting thing about all these new technologies and social networks is they are not only disruptive but in most cases they are new markets all together—who would have ever thought?

Added Resource
Here’s an example of how gaming is growing, check out the—Game & Game World Championship


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