From my discussion with Pooky Amsterdam, producer of numerous series as the CEO of PookyMedia, and what she sees as the potential for virtual world television, in her own words…
I see “sit back and relax” is over; it’s “lean forward and engage.” And I think that’s something you could do in a virtual world, which is the edge of your seat, tip of your finger kind of excitement and entertainment that you really can’t get anyplace else. You can’t get that by just watching a television show. It’s a whole different thing.
I believe that the future for virtual world television is going to grow with the growth of the browser-based virtual world platforms, like
Unity3D. I believe that Samsung will have a Unity-enabled television, which will mean that if you’re on the internet on your TV and you’ve got a group of friends, you can invite somebody over through that MMO and they’ll be right there with you and playing with you. I also think that old game show titles, which have been retired, those can be reissued. I think you should be able to buy that license and maybe do a franchise television show with that you buy as an online game and invite other people on to play. I’m sure they have some capability of that already.
But I think that that will certainly happen. I think that people will, because of the cost effectiveness of it, be able to produce more and more animated shows that will have a lot of fun elements and will have certain meaning for people. Not a program that’s just being shown to you and then you can make comments in the comments section. This is a show where you’re sitting in the audience, live, and you can participate in it directly. There’s a different level of participation.
Let’s say that there was a show about parents of children who are autistic, and you develop what is a community-based show. And, yes, it has a small focus but, because it addresses issues that are very important and germane to them, it can also attract the kind of audience which will be loyal, which sponsors will be interested in, and where also their needs are met in terms of delivery of new information. It’s sort of like what happened in Relay for Life, or what happens with the American Cancer Society in Second Life. Because people can’t burden, or don’t wish to burden their caregivers or their friends or other people they know, it becomes much easier to speak to people who are also going through the same thing that they are. It is hard in a small town to find people who are going through the same thing you are, or this means you have to get in your car and go to a group. And so I think that something like a virtual world, and it being able to be part of a television platform, could encourage people to become part of a community-based program like this.
I also think that it is a very cost-effective medium. I don’t know where the economy is going to be – my crystal ball comes with no guarantee. But I do not foresee the coming five years being times of plenty for all. I see it being, unfortunately, a time of some contraction – gas prices, energy prices going up. And I think that being able to find other people who share your interest, where you can do it virtually and it can become a kind of fun, you create an identity that is an extension of yourself and have a community of other friends and reach people from all over the world — I really see MMOs,which virtual worlds are part of, becoming much bigger and so the opportunity for entertainment within that will grow as well.
I do believe that people wish to feel engaged and vital, and I think that they wish to feel unique, valuable, and differentiated. I see the growth of platforms like Facebook as a real testimony to that, with the person being able to offer their own content or comments or whatever. That just becomes a bit larger in virtual worlds. Being able to also offer entertainment and be part of a show is something that is really, really compelling. If they could have avatar-based television shows on Facebook, I think that would be huge. I don’t think we’re too far away from that. Would that be a virtual world? I’m not sure, but if you have enough people virtually in a room together as avatars, we’re going to have to call it something.
I think people are tired of being passively entertained and I think that we certainly see that is true now. To wanting to be more engaged with other people. But I think that the solitary-ness of games will expand and people will become more and more willing and wanting to engage with other people. It’s just gonna be within a virtual environment. And I think that the impetus – I’m hoping the impetus to creation, which virtual worlds could certainly manifest, will rise. But I do think that the growth of the recent web cam platforms that we’ve seen also means that people are lonely.
I mean, at some point, people are lonely. And so they will reach out and look to engage or find friends. You really do need to go to other places where you can find a community. To have a real community of a large number of people, or a larger number of friends, that’s something that I think will be increasingly accomplished online. So I’m not surprised at all – in fact, I do predict that there will be more virtual world entertainment and it will become more acceptable as time goes on.