Saturday, 24 March 2007

The Dope on Virtual Holland

Holland, what does it mean to you? Dope and red lights? Tulips and windmills? Well as you can see below, it is the latter of these stereotypes that has won the day in Our Virtual Holland. This newly opened collection of islands is a joint venture between the Dutch ING Bank and British virtual worlds building consultancy, Rivers Run Red. Incidentally, is ING ever going to open their own island to the rambling public? It looked complete months ago, but I've not been able to go there for ages. Thinks: maybe it's just me.... paranoid?... comes of smoking too many of them tulips.

The plan is for Our Virtual Holland to evolve into a virtual mini-state, and to this end they have been offering free parcels of land to would-be residents. Don't all rush to the website though - the offer closed on 21st March. Rather than churn out all the details here, I would refer you to this page of their website, which tells you everything you need to know (if not, try their FAQ). As is usual with SL that magic word for 2007, "Innovation", looms large. I will be interested to see what emerges.

Here is a map of the main land mass. The sim on the right is carved into plots of varying sizes (the circle indicates the windmill pictured above). I assume these regimented rows are for the use of new residents. Today, they are awaiting their new owners, and are largely bare. Many seem very small, and will surely push the inhabitants' ingenuity and innovation!

The central sim features a large building that in RL is presumably an apartment block. I feel I should recognise it - but I don't. If you know what it is, let me know and I will update this entry.

The central sim feature a large building that is a replica of the Amsterdamse Poort Office, a former ING head office located in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost [thanks for the info, Marcel]. In SL, this block contains a meeting/dancing area and an art gallery. There is a rooftop patio, for alfresco dining and escaping the hubbub in the dance area below.

Further to the West is an area of waterways, cycle paths and houseboats. On another sim there is a huge tulip (d'oh!) field. You can rent a strip of it and grow your own tulips for a small fee that goes to charity. I suppose advanced hydroponic greenhouses would not really fit well with the (slightly twee) image of The Netherlands being conveyed here. Oh... and of course, there's numerous bike hire stands.

The last sim currently resembles a map of Northern Holland and contains an office and the start of an orientation environment, still under development.

So what do I think? Well... the build quality is good, but more importantly, the idea is a novel one in SL, as far as I know. To lift a quote from their website: "OurVirtualHolland will be a place where people have the opportunity to create their own ‘Holland’. You can set up a small business, build a new house or design new products either on your own or together. We want to attract creative and entrepreneurial people and help you to explore the Virtual World. OurVirtualHolland will be a breeding ground for new ideas and initiatives on an international level. Communities will evolve, who will share experiences and work together."

You can read a list of planned resident ventures here, a report on the opening of the site.

No doubt old hands from Neufreistadt and other such venerable institutions will point out they've been doing this lark for ages. What I find interesting here, though, is that a large RL commercial organisation (ING) is driving this. In considering what they will get out of it, ING have already pre-empted my question: "ING is taking the virtual-world phenomenon seriously and expects that part of its future internet activities will become three dimensional... ING seeks to gain a better understanding of improvements it can make to products and services by assessing valuable feedback from inhabitants who will experience ING in Second Life."

So there you are. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

1 comment:

Marcel said...

Hi Aleister,

First of all, to answer your question on the central building: it is a replica of the Amsterdamse Poort Office, a former ING head office located in Amsterdam Zuid-Oost, the Netherlands (see I work there.

I hope they will do some more work on the building, especially the coloring which should be brown.

You provide a good evaluation of the newish way ING treats Second Life. I think they were well advised (a couple of SL-savy colleagues were involved) and had some good examples how not to do it).

In my post on Friday's "pre-introduction kick-off", I provide some details on what ventures have been choosen to start off with, which were thought up and will be "done" by potential residents. Please check my post at:

Best regards,