Virtual guilds: the new country club?

39320580_be783088f6_m_1Could you get ahead by getting online? This Lunch over IP posting, which links to a TEDblog posting, "Learning from the New Golf," suggests groups that play together stay together. It may not be the country club set yet, but Bruno Giussani, who blogs Lunch over IP, points out that the average age of players in the United States is 30 and that 40 percent of players are women.

This is a good thing.

Oh, and it's a serious business:

Virtual economies trading in huge amounts of real money are developing within online games, as Ed Castronova told the PopTech audience last October. Companies such as bank Wells Fargo and Microsoft are apparently buying entire "islands" on Second Life and setting up "shops" there: too many people are spending too much time in syntetic worlds, doing much more than playing, to keep ignoring them.

Diego Rodriguez offers a social angle in TEDblog:

With all due respect to, in my opinion it's WoW [World of Warcraft, the online gaming world] that's really cracked the "software as service" subscription business model. For $15 a month, I can go online with millions of my closest friends and adventure around a Tolkien-ish virtual world full of elves and trolls, dungeons and dragons.  Yeah, it's geeky, but it's an extremely compelling experience... lush, beautiful, entertaining.  Amazing.

So what have I learned?  First, it really is the New Golf: WoW facilitates surprisingly rich social interactions between players.  In WoW I’ve set up meetings, arranged introductions, even asked for a favor or two.  All the things that used to happen at a country club can now occur in this online space, only with an order of magnitude more people and without the limitations of geography or tee times.

As it turns out these virtual guilds, between battle, talk shop. And why not? Sharing professional experiences among peers is a time honored practice. If the gates in these virtual lands swing a bit wider to younger men and women, so much the better.

Having watched my two young sons solve a game problem that escaped me, I'm inclined to believe that the benefits outweigh any drawbacks. And as a lapsed philosopher, I'm pleased that Edward Castronova, in addition to pioneering the study of the economics of virtual worlds, has hinted that philosophers can find fertile fields in these lands.

Besides, my swing is really, really awful.


Technorati tags: Edward Castronova, guilds, gaming, Bruno Giussani

Image: "Waiting to battle" by Cosmic Kitty