John Carmack: "Crass Commercialization", Not High-Mindedness, Will Lead to the Metaverse

Joyce Bettencourt is a longtime metaverse developer (and Rhiannon Chatnoir in Second Life), and she got a chance to grab OculusVR CTO John Carmack at the company's recent developer conference to talk Second Life, Minecraft, and the Metaverse in general-- so let's watch:

"[H]e leans more towards platforms like Minecraft, which is coming to Oculus and GearVR as having potential to lead towards a metaverse than say Second Life." Joyce summarizes. "He mentions that the lack of implicit 'what do I do and gameplay' as downsides to SL."

That's a very valid point, something I've discussed at length here and with Second Life's co-founders -- both Philip Rosedale and Cory Ondrejka, who expressed a desire to see Second Life add a gaming system after leaving Linden Lab, and then went on to lead Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR.

Anyway, more from Rhiannon, who provokes a good point from Carmack on how the metaverse will come about:

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Educators Discuss Minecraft for Education in Second Life

Somehow this feels like an endpoint of a years-old evolution, but here's a group of educators who once advocated Second Life as a great education tool now gathering in Second Life to discuss best practices of Minecraft as a great education tool. SL is pretty excellent for group voice chats in 3D where Minecraft isn't, so maybe this is the best marriage of the two virtual worlds as education tools. (And there's lots useful advice and case studies discussed throughout).

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Compare Minecraft Player Personality With Players of SL, Europa Universalis IV, Candy Crush & Crash Bandicoot

Minecraft player personality Nick Yee

Here's Quantic Foundry's latest blog post summarizing the gaming personality of over 100,000 people. On Wedesday, I shared the results related to Second Life, now you compare that profile to players of not just Minecraft, but Europa Universalis IV, Candy Crush & Crash Bandicoot. Notably, Minecraft players put significantly less value on Design (i.e. generated content) than SLers: 53% versus 77%.

"We had about 1600 gamers who wrote down Minecraft as one of their favorite games," Nick Yee tells me. "We actually weren't planning to analyze the data like this. We included the 'favorite games' question as a way to potentially debug problems with the Gamer Motivation Profile.... But as we started to poke around with favorite games for each motivation and dug deeper, we realized how clear the profiles were. And that we had enough data not just for all the popular games, but for many niche/less well-known games as well."

Another notable finding with Minecraft: The survey respondents are actually more male than Google data suggests:

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"Kinda Like Minecraft But Not Really" - How to Introduce Second Life to a New Generation Ready to Embrace It

Hey Linden Lab and SL enthusiasts, if you really want to grow Second Life's userbase, forget about Dr. Phil or any other old school media like that, and push to get more people making videos like this;

A fun if rambling "Let's Play" video from YouTube gaming personality "everythingdigital1" who recently discovered and fell in love with Second Life (his SL name is "Dtpk"), this is exactly the kind of video that really would grow Second Life's userbase, because it's aimed at the precise demographic who are ideally suited to embrace SL. Here's why:

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The New Yorker Finally Features Virtual World on Its Cover

Minecraft New Yorker education

The New Yorker is arguably the Western world's most important magazine, while the cover of the magazine is one of the most important cultural barometers for the concerns and obsessions of its target readership (affluent, educated, influential), so it's noteworthy that its current cover carries a depiction of a virtual world for the very first time.

The accompanying article, by Chris Ware, who also illustrated the cover, captures a lot of what we were just discussing last week, or for that matter, what Julian Dibbell told me about his own daughter's experience with Minecraft:

Clara has spent hours, days, weeks of the past two years building and making navigable block worlds fuelled from the spun-off fizz of her accreting consciousness: giant ice-cream-layered auditoriums linked to narrow fifty-foot-high hallways over glass-covered lava streams, stairs that descend to underground classrooms, frozen floating wingless airplanes, and my favorite, the tasteful redwood-and-glass “writer’s retreat.” (It has a small pool.) She made a meadow of beds for my wife—a high-school teacher who craves unconsciousness—and a roller coaster to take her there.

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Why a Virtual World Educator Jumped to Minecraft

Minecraft for Education

The open forum on the success of Minecraft versus SL has attracted some really interesting reader comments, one of my favorites being this one from Jo Kay, an educator deeply involved with Second Life and OpenSim as a teaching tool:

One of the key factors IMHO is Minecraft's simplicity AND its complexity. A small child can quickly learn how to negotiate the space (without lengthy tutorials or clunky viewer software to learn) and get almost instant satisfaction from exploring and socializing, monster slaying and/or building a little house, castle, secret base etc.

Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, Minecraft allows for complex modding which has seen developers from around and world and across a huge age range creating their own versions and flavors of the game - from themed servers (Hunger Mines, Harry Potter etc) to Factions, Feed the Beast and PVP).

Additionally the extensive "metagame" that exists around the game is compelling - from YouTube stars to kids writing epic Minecraft theme stories and beyond, the eco-system of fan created media is endless and amazing and operates from beginner to elite. Kids are able to join that community easily via Twitch, Youtube, fan sites and Forums, and via coding communities like Bukkit.

... all of which leads to several advantages of Minecraft as a pedagogical platform:

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Open Forum: Why Has Minecraft Captured a Mass Market and the Education Space Where Second Life Has Not?

Desmond and Emilly Orr in Minecraft

Mimi Ito has a really interesting Boing Boing post on the rising popularity of Minecraft as an educational tool, which emerged very soon after Minecraft becoming extremely popular -- over 100 million players, in recent estimates. Then she makes this point:

Minecraft isn't the first virtual world to value player creativity. Remember Second Life? But, what makes the DNA of Minecraft fundamentally different from Second Life or WoW is that any player can set up and administer their own server. This makes the Minecraft scene a breeding ground not only for digital creativity, but social innovation. Players are building their own server-based communities in Minecraft governed by the values and rules that they develop and enforce. No corporate overlord dictating the rules of property and play here. The mod world in Minecraft is teeming with social engineering tools, ranging from chat moderation add-ons to systems that assign plots and different privileges to players to minimize griefing. Lessons in digital citizenship anyone?

OpenSim, the open source spinoff of Second Life, also enables player-owned servers, so that doesn't make Minecraft unique. Also, Minecraft player-owned servers did not exist for some time after the game launched - it was originally a single-player experience.

All that to one side, what remains true is that Minecraft has captured both the mass consumer market and the education space where Second Life and OpenSim tried and failed. So let me put the question to readers (especially virtual world educators and those who play both): Why?

Please discuss in Comments. I plan on featuring the best insights in a future post.

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Catch This Second Life Designer's Lunch Break Let's Plays (Live Right Now!)

Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Second Life designer Damien Fate is a busy guy. Between raising a family and developing regular content for the multiple virtual fashion brands under his name (FATEwear, FATEplay, and FATEstep to name a few) it's surprising that he has much time for anything else. But, like a lot of Second Life users, Damien loves playing games, and lately he's been making the most out of his lunch breaks by streaming them and doing Let's Play videos that just about anyone can enjoy.

In addition to regular Minecraft interludes with his son, Damien's also been sampling an assortment of other games. Yesterday he took a look at Jazzpunk, an absurdly fun (or just plain absurd) indie game that I wrote about here last year. He's also recently played the popular platform puzzler Thomas was Alone, as well as Double Fine's Matryoshka-based adventure game Stacking.

If you're quick you can catch Damien streaming more Jazzpunk right now, live on his Twitch channel. Otherwise you can swing by his YouTube to catch the archives. He updates YouTube very promptly and keeps everything tidily sorted in playlists, so no it's not the end of the world if you can't align your lunch break with his.

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These May Be the Most Relaxing and the Most Breathtaking Minecraft Videos You'll Ever See

Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Wait! Stop! Do not click play on the video embedded above until you have read this very important warning: This video is almost certainly going to make you drowsy. It may even make you fall asleep. If you're at work, this would make particularly bad break-time viewing. So save it. Save it for when you're at home, curled up, and juuuust about ready for bed. Why? Because it's one of the most ridiculously relaxing Minecraft videos I've ever seen. More than that, it's also showing off one of the most incredible builds I've ever seen, dubbed Imperial City. It's an absolute must-watch if you want to see the scope and scale of what can be accomplished with Mojang's humble little voxels. But it will knock you right out.

It's like if Jacques Cousteau was taking you on a tour of Paris... If he'd built Paris himself with a couple of friends... And had to keep his voice down to a soothing (and informative) murmur.

If you haven't guessed, this isn't your run-of-the-mill Minecraft video. It's an ASMR video by The French Whisperer, who's most well known for his soft-talking videos about world history. One of my first articles on Paste concerned ASMR Let's Plays, videos in which a player records themselves playing a game in a relaxing manner and speaking in a low or even whispered voice to help the viewer relax. The intersection of the ASMR and gaming communities is pretty fascinating -- or perhaps a little creepy, depending on your perspective.

Either way, if you can stay awake long enough to watch the whole thing, you may also want to check out the second and third parts of the tour. You can also download the Imperial City world file for yourself here.

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WesterosCraft World Now Bigger Than Second Life?

Philip Rosedale told me in January last year about a handful of Minecraft geeks who were building a jaw-droppingly detailed recreation of Westeros (the world of Game of Thrones, both the original books and the HBO show) on their own server, but that was when they had only recreated the capital city. Come a year later, the handful is now thousands of builders, and the vast continent of Westeros is nearly complete -- watch:

Via Kottke, who notes that the team's FAQ describes the WesterosCraft project as "currently the size of Los Angeles, about 500 square miles." Interestingly, back in 2010, the combined continent and island land mass of Second Life (which Philip co-created) was, as a virtual cartographer told me then, "1800 this means that is greater than the city area of Los Angeles (1,290" Given the virtual land loss in SL five years later, it's likely this WesterosCraft is now larger. (Which might also make it the largest contiguous virtual land mass on the market.)

Another interesting comparison with Second Life - the WesterosCraft project is so complicated, the members have GoT-related roleplay within it, and to access the world, you need to use a custom Minecraft viewer (so to speak):

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