Making it Sims'le

Point: 3D virtual world environments for sharing content -- personal and media -- may finally be coming.

Imagine a senior exec at a large news media company sitting at her desk and awaiting the final recommendations of a high-priced futurist. The topic? Planning for future publishing innovations to not only stem audience erosion, but increase viewers.

"You'll need to put a game engine on the front-end of your content," Futurist says. Blank stare from media exec. "Like the Sims," says Futurist.

Will this exchange actually occur? Has it already? If we look at our Patient Zero (above), we'd have to say: Maybe.

Even before the Internet boom we chuckled mightily at lame attempts to create non-game 3D virtual worlds where participants had avatars do something like pick up a magazine and open it to online page views. Then it was bellylaughing after the bust when along came a start-up called and some clueless VCs actually gave these dolts more than 30 million dollars. (We do have to admit that we consulted another of the failed virtual world companies at one point.)

So, why do we think Patient Zero might want to eventually tip toe through a virtual world with her connected personal network, sharing their discoveries of editorial and advertising content from media companies?

Because corporate America may be embracing the notion as a better way to train and inform young employees.

As we've said in other postings, smart media execs should watch the evolution of internal communications in business as a bellwether for mass communications. Just this week we heard about two Fortune 200 companies undertaking game-engine-powered virtual world development where, for training, employees can participate in 3D simulations of their work environment and respond to the scenarios they'll face in their jobs. Even, which must have squirreled away some of that dough, is now called Forterra and says it is using its engine to create training simulations for the U.S. Army.

In addition, we're reading some buzz about the latest A.I. bots that will converse with humans, and while the stuff is dense with jargon, the takeaway is that the technology is getting a lot better.

For more on the There debacle, read this TechDirt posting.