Monday, 15 December 2008

As one world ends another begins...

Recently we reported on Google's imminent shutdown of its Lively virtual world - a shame since we'd been using it here as a 'virtual common room', particularly for those in a building on campus who lost their actual common room in a refurbishment. Ah well. 

In this multiverse of parallel worlds however, it wasn't long before a new world manifested iteself in cyberspace. Sony's Playstation Home started in Europe last Friday and as a proud (partial, if you count my children!) owner of a PS3, I popped into this new 3D realm. First impressions are good, insofar as the graphics are excellent, particularly in comparison to the constantly re-rezzing Second Life. I was quite impressed with the harbour view appartment with which I was provided. Fairly minimal, but a far cry from the Glasgow Tenement of my early childhood! However, apart from that, there's little here of particular interest yet. Some venues built around the main town square and some impressive streaming video embedded into displays, but all for advertising - surprise, surprise. So the technology is there to make this a very effective world, but in all likelihood it will be used as a shop front for Sony games and media and a place for gamers to chat and swap cheats.

Of course, being proprietary and heavily dependent on the PS3 hardware was always going to be an issue, but the hint at what the platform could be capable of, especially when driven by the powerful  cell processor at the heart of the device, is tantalising, would that Sony and their developers have the creativity and imagination to reach beyond this narrow implementation. Time will tell, I guess,  but without more users, a lower price point and a concerted drive into the broadband media and education areas, my avatar might be confined to watching ads and making funny little dances.

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