Friday, October 13, 2006

It's all about "Mii"

Social media is greatly a matter of hype at the moment. Surely successful online community services exist and there are theories such as Prof. Orihuela's 'The 10 Paradigms of eCommunication' which are very nice abstactions of such a huge issue.
Orihuela's view(s) of eCommunication (very much related to the debate about web2.0 and social media) is:
Paradigm I: from audience to user
Paradigm II: from media to content
Paradigm III: from monomedia to multimedia
Paradigm IV: from periodicity to real time
Paradigm V: from scarcity to abundance
Paradigm VI: from editor-mediated to non-mediated
Paradigm VII: from distribution to access
Paradigm VIII: from one way to interactivity
Paradigm IX: from linear to hypertext
Paradigm X: from data to knowledge.

Many social media solutions --most of them online-- seem to be variations of a same idea. Developers create a platform (YouTube, eBay, Kaboodle, Flickr...) and wait for users to create content and make it a 'real' service. After gaining huge number of users, the developers try to attract companies like Google, sell their company and become millionaires ;). Why not if it works!? What I find interesting is that currently the whole issue focuses on Web2.0, even though there are mobile phones and game consoles in plenty not to mention other consumer electronics. Where are all successful mobile or console communities?

Even though digital games (pc, online, console, handheld, mobile) is a niche compared to online services, surprisingly few social / community solutions have been introduced to gamers. There are/has been XBox Live and NGage Arena but their fortunes are still far from the ones of WoW, Second Life or Habbo.

Reuters just (12 Oct 2006) published an article discussing about the community potential next generation consoles offer. It is a fact that gaming devices will be networked. But 'while Playstation 3 presumably follow a model similar to Xbox Live with a robust online component offering games, music and movies, Nintendo's Wii will include the tools users need to mint a "Mii," a customized, cartoony version of themselves. Mii Channel character creation software lets users choose from dozens of features, including eyes, hair, lips and eyebrows to create a virtual character, also referred to as an "avatar" in video game parlance'.

Is this any different from Habbo? Well, the innovations do not necessarily have to be brand-new ones. It seems to be more relevant to understand: when to utilize certain possibilities and how to utilize and market them. For example IMHO Second Life and There are not that much more innovative than Alpha World but still current 3D virtual community solutions are way more popular than somewhat similar services were in the 1990s.

At the moment Nintendo is a defendant at console markets. If their current position (3rd after PS2 and Xbox) has encouraged them to think different, innovate and take risks, the third position has been an advantage for Nintendo. Gamers are eagerly waiting for Nintendo Wii to hit the market. Social gaming, modern party games like EyeToy and Buzz and users as modders are the future of gaming. Hopefully Sony and Microsoft will learn something from Wii and Mii.

The number and spread of gamers (target groups) is expanding. I do not agree with research companies and 'leading media measurement companies' like comScore who (dare to) state that: In the US 'on average, gamers are 41 years of age with an average annual income of $55,000. Further, females account for 52 percent of the gaming audience. The average gamer has been online for nine years and 84 percent have broadband access at home.' Who ever the future gamer will be Nintendo Wii is nicely rebuilding the future business of interactive entertainment.

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