Probably the funniest thing I’ve seen at the State of Play conference was watching a demo yesterday evening. I missed the beginning of it, but by the time I got there, Will Harvey, the Founder and CTO of there.com was logged into his virtual world with an avatar of himself (well, a somewhat more buff version of himself). He was walking around, tryng to get virtual dogs to heel, and chatting up female avatars.
The AI doggies liked the treats, but the avatars were not cooperating. There were people with dune buggies and hovering skateboards who were having fun running down pedestrians (you can’t die in there.com, but the victim flies artistically through the air, or suddenly finds itself face down through the dirt). I found it disorienting, but Will seemed to take it in stride. Will didn’t seem to mind being run over too much, but he got very cross about the person with the paint gun shooting puppies. It was entertaining to watch him pulling down menus, buying a paint gun of his own (probably helps to have an infinite supply of there bucks), and going after the evil-doer.
But most of the demo was spent trying to socialize. Will would strike up a nice conversation with female avatars, and at some point the other player (I'd write “women” but who really knows…) would ask him something about himself. He’d very modestly admit to being the designer of the game, and the conversation was suddenly over. It was clear that the other players didn’t believe him (running into a game designer on a balloon-ridden field in a Virtual World is the game equivalent of meeting Zeus in a coffee shop), and basically figured he was either a liar or a nut. Some of the other players were more polite than others, but all of them had reactions that amounted to “oh, sorry, gotta run.”
Conclusion: six years of development of VR is not the most efficient way to pick up women.