Enterprise Virtual Worlds for Collaboration

February 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Posted in collaboration, communication, Gaming, virtual worlds | 3 Comments

I was happy and surprised to see that the University of California at Irvine announced on Tuesday a $3,000,000 grant for Walt Scacchi,  Richard N. Taylor, Alfred Kobsa, Cristina V. Lopes, Gloria Mark, Bonnie Nardi and David Redmiles to study how virtual gaming worlds can help organizations collaboration and compete.

The “happy” part is because, as readers of this blog know, I am a strong proponent of how enterprises and non-gaming vendors can learn communication and collaboration lessons from online gaming.  In my entry Enterprise Communication Meets the World of Warcraft I described how communication in World of Warcraft is highly advanced compared to enterprise counterparts with regard to channels, chat modes, presence, mail, and emotes.  I also wrote a “short story” on How the Enterprise Colonized the Virtual Worlds: A Sort-of Science Fiction Story to illustrate how virtual worlds may conquer the enterprise.

I’m very interested to read what comes out of this study.  I’m a fan in particular of Gloria Mark and the work she’s done on information worker processes and interruptions, so I’m encouraged to see her on the list.

The “surprised” part is because that’s quite a financial commitment.  Compare that to the public-facing side (mostly social and gaming worlds) where, as I referenced in January, this comes on the heels of a 58% reduction in venture capital and media investments in virtual worlds.

The New University article on the grant acknowledges the size and timing of the grant with the statement “Although the argument could be made that putting aside such a large sum of money for researching a game is a waste of tax dollars …”  It correctly points out that lots of academic research uses gaming for anthropological studies, but I can’t comment on what amount would be correct.

Still, I recommend that anyone writing a grant proposal involving virtual worlds get in touch with whoever the grant writer is at UC Irvine because she’s worth her weight in gold pieces.  Not just for this, but they also received grants in 2005 and 2008 for enterprise virtual world research:

  • $80,000 grant for Bill Tomlinson in 6/05 for the “virtual raft project”. The press release said “His novel computer-technology project allows people to use a tablet PC as a handheld raft to transport animated characters between “virtual islands” on desktop computers.”
  • $100,000 grant in 9/08 for Bonnie Nardi and doctoral student Yong Ming Kow to analyze collaboration in virtual world gaming. (link)


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  1. desktop computers these days gets obsolete the day that they are shipped considering how fast technology updates::*

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  3. Hi there! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d
    ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog article or vice-versa?
    My blog goes over a lot of the same topics as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you’re interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!

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