Innovation, market creation and virtual worlds

Submitted by Isto Huvila on Tue, 05/15/2012 - 19:34

I was last Friday in Copenhagen participating in and presenting at the research meets practice workshop on innovation and market creation in virtual worlds organised by Ursula Plesner of Copenhagen Business School. The workshop was quite excellent and gathered an interesting crowd of practitioners and researchers with insightful presentations on many aspects of virtual worlds related business. It was quite apparent that in the present post-Second Life hangover the idea of virtual worlds is broadening even if there seems to be simultaneously certain uncertainty of that what will be the next thing in virtual worlds. The evolution of the curent state of the art of virtual worlds was exemplified well by the historical review of Henry Lowood and the presentations of Vin Sumner of Clicks and Links and Claus Uriza of the Pop Art Lab on the projects of their companies and the change of that what is the cutting edge in virtual worlds.


Robin Teigland presented her interesting project on entrepreneurship with an interesting viewpoint on how entrepreneurial participation in open source projects functions as a source of social capital for both the projects and the entrepreneurs. Stephan Stephensen discussed gamification and participation in Mingoville, David Burden described the thrilling projects of Daden Limited, Mattia Crespi the challenges of Italian and international virtual worlds business, and Inge Knudsen and Anni Korsbaek their impactful educational work in Second Life.


My own presentation discussed how the market concerns of virtual world operators not only (or basically very seldom) conincide with the business interests of the companies working in the virtual worlds. The central conclusions of the presentation were that it is difficult to define success in the context of virtual worlds as a virtual world can be at the same time successful and unsuccessful for its different stakeholders, and that there is a certain paradox in the sustainability of virtual worlds. Small technical changes in the world can have radical consequences on the in-world business and even if changes tend to be beneficial for innovation the very real possibility that a plug is pulled of a virtual world is an equally real challenge for (in a sense, sustainable) market creation in these environments.


A video of the presentation has been published in