Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Virtual Worlds and Corporate Governance

Serious Games and Virtual Worlds may require a new Corporate Governance

In my view, Corporate Governance definition boils down to one simple, but not simplistic, thing: aligning everyone in the organization with the company's main value proposition and agreeing upon a handful of value metrics to ensure they are delivering on their promises to the major stakeholders.

An increasing number of tech leaders who think Second Life could be a gold mine, are foreseeing a sizable business in providing the software, computers, and chips that power 3-D worlds, and in advising clients on how to take advantage of them to market or sell products.

However, as I more and more often make the transition between virtual and real worlds, back and forth, I’m becoming increasingly aware of the fact that not necessarily my values as a customer keep pace with these fast, frequent moves.

An anecdotal example would be my recent “acquisition” of a Nissan Sentra, in SL. It only took me a few minutes to get the code, define specs and start driving my car. This experience has probably raised my expectations concerning future purchases in real-life, at a cognitive level.

Once I've designed myself, I could walk around the virtual world and even fly. I see the world on my screen from the vantage point of my avatar. If the Web offered people the liberation of communicating with almost anyone, Second Life gives us the chance to meet people in wildly varying contexts, and do it in a body we created. In marketing terms I could eventually call this experience "extreme customization".

I could relentlessly provide other examples of most rewarding SL experiences, which would not be easily “teleported” to our First Life and therefore could not be valued against real-life metrics.

As virtual worlds are beginning to catch the attention of huge corporations, who are envisioning huge opportunities to sell products and services, I would dare to suggest that early addressing Governance implications within that digital realm would be "healthy", to say the least.