Ted Tagami of Small Worlds demoing to Joyce, Barry and GK youth Chanel at ENGAGE.
I just back to the office from the ENGAGE Expo, which took place March 10-11 at the Jacob Javitz Center in Manhattan. I have to say that I was a bit pessimistic going in about what I was going to encounter in this period of economic downturn. And it was true that everyone who had been to previous expos noted that the number of participants was way down, with several of the key virtual world players not even showing up like Club Penguin, Linden Lab, and Webkins.
Given the commercial emphasis of the Expo, I was prepared to be bored by lots of talk about ROI, brand placement, and conversion rates. But actually there were a number of interesting uses of these worlds for education, civic engagement, cause-based marketing, and other social good applications that I came away with.
Among the interesting new worlds and initiatives being dropped soon:
- Habbo International will be participating in "Earth Hour" on March 28 to raise awareness about sustainable development issues
- Small Worlds has a number of tools that educators can use in creating educational experiences and missions for their users, connecting to other forms of social media and social networks
- Kidscom.com has been developing innovative educational experiences for young people for a long time, merging virtual activities and real world activities. Other than Global Kids, they were the only attendee of ENGAGE to bring in young people into this youth-oriented convention.
- Rapper DMC wants to hold youth poetry writing contests on his new DMC World
- Whyville and the Field Museum are partnering on the launch of a new virtual coral reef to teach kids about ecology and ecosystems
- ActiveWorlds, as the granddaddy of virtual worlds, was present, with many many educational applications of their platform
Here's the best overheard line from Engage: "Kids, you can't play here, were doing business." LOL.