When I was looking at which online virtual community to join, I was aware of the problems There was having. And also aware that the company’s shift in focus – primarily providing the U.S. military their virtual services – would likely bring in much-needed revenue; even while the consumer side of their business suffered. Consequently, I suspected There would make a comeback. I just didn’t think it would happen in quite the way Wired News is reporting today: There is spinning off from it’s parent company.
What will be interesting to see is whether or not There players (aka “Therians”) who have migrated to Second Life, will return there. I suspect some will. The ex-There players I’ve met have indicated to me that SL is much more “real”. This has an interesting if not unentirely surprising polarizing effect on participants. Some Therians apparently are really only interested in the social aspects of an online community – and primarily those of the “chat room” variety. While Second Life has that option, it offers much more. Other converts are finding Second Life to be more like a real “second life”, with more opportunites to learn and perhaps earn real world money in ways There apparently didn’t facilitate.
I have to admit I’ll be curious to see how There realigns itself. The new emphasis on virtual economies in the online arena might trigger a kind of Renaissance. And in anticipation of this possibility, I expect Linden Labs’ Second Life will move more aggressively to implement features on their board, such as the much-anticipated upgrade to the Havok 2 physics engine. What a great time to have gotten involved in all this!