Friday, 21 September 2007

China and Virtual Worlds

If you are like me, then you probably have interests in virtual worlds beyond Second Life. So you might be interested to read this article, posted at the excellent Virtual Worlds News blog.

The gist is:
The China Recreation District (CRD), a joint government-private partnership based in Beijing, is to build a country-wide infrastructure to support the deployment of virtual worlds. As I have posted elsewhere in this blog, China is going through a massive ramp-up in its use of virtual worlds - and not just the familiar Entropia and HiPiHi worlds. There is apparently an aim to invite external virtual worlds to join the infrastructure. Anyone visiting Virtual Worlds'07 in San Jose will be able to find out more, as Chi Tai Robert Lai, Chief Scientist with the CRD, will be presenting at the forum.

The CRD describes itself as: "The home of the leading edge of television and digital entertainment in China... Formed in 2001 as Panorama Media and through consolidation offive companies and renamed CRD Co. Ltd, in 2006, CRD is one of the leading independent television and digital content companies in China."

I am sure this will raise a few questions, such as:

  • What about Chinese government insularity, open access and the Great Firewall? Inviting in overseas companies may compromise their view of security - or it may actually make it easier to police.
  • The creation of infrastructure seems a long way from the company's core competencies, although the extension of interactive media to include virtual worlds is a logical step. Why do they feel qualified and able to undertake such an enterprise? Or have I misinterpreted their intention?
  • Who are they aiming at? The "social" virtual worlders or the "gamer" virtual worlders. Given China's strong bias towards the latter, is there a planned place for the social virtual worlds?
I look forward to reading more as this story unfolds. I would expect virtual world companies to be trampling over each other in the rush to get onboard and tap in to this huge and lucrative market. Incidentally, there is no mention of this on the company website.


Wayne Smallman said...

An interesting development.

I've got zero personal experience with Second Life, or any other virtual world, but I'm no less intrigued by them.

I've written some stuff on Second Life, MMOG's and virtual worlds in general and it'd be great to get the views of a genuine VW'er like yourself.

Hopefully, we'll speak soon...

Anonymous said...

I believe that some "steps" towards a supposed modernity cannot be avoided altogether, and China has to gather momentum on other "economic factors" outside mere manufacturing..(branding the new China??!?)
Still, I do agree there are some "minor" concern about the actual positioning of such VW enterprise...and yet, it would be very limited of them to believe people will use a VW environment to exchange state secrets behind the physical back of Chinese watchdogs..a too easy to spot "trap"... it is more important to understand how that would impact the VW ecosystem and how the tech hiccups of simultaneous multiple accesses would be handled (given the potential size of the phenomena..).
However, nice one!!!!