A virtual world social network?

By Peter West • 10th March 2014 12:17

Originally posted for the
Web Science COMP6051 module, University of Southampton

During the last few weeks, Team Orion have been pursuing the idea of a gaming social network. However, our analysis of existing social networks has revealed a large number of gaming social networks already available. The core team had a discussion today about the viability of GameX within this niche, and have decided that it has little unique experience to offer to gamers. Other networks are available for sharing gaming experience in the ways we proposed, and we could not think of any unique features we could add to this that would entice gamers from existing networks.

Potential features of a gaming social network – those circled in green are ones which we had not discovered in other social networks – restricting to just video, offering in-game resource exchange, restricting to short videos and virtual worlds. Photo: Team Orion

During our discussion, we offered some features that might make our network innovative and unique. One feature that seemed to particularly interest us was a social network with a virtual world. So we discussed a potential idea – a virtual world which encourages random encounters with others based on interests.

In this social network, a person starts with their own virtual universe. Their aim is to find QR codes in the real world (which may be found in adverts or in shops). When the QR code is scanned, they are taken to a virtual room where other’s who have scanned the code also reside. That room gets added to the person’s virtual universe and may be accessed at any time.

Each room has a theme – for example, horror or cars. This is decided by the owner of the room, but would probably be related to whatever item  that was originally scanned. The owner is the first person to have scanned the QR code and landed in the room. A resident of the room may “graffiti” the room with media related to the theme – videos, drawings, audio etc. These can be left anonymously or might link to the individual’s profile.

A virtual world where people may go to niche-interest rooms. These rooms are only accessible by scanning real world features (such as QR-codes) with a mobile device. Photo: Team Orion.

The social network here is the way in which individuals may connect within the virtual world. Each room is themed, and those who stay residents of the rooms share that similar interest. However, encounters are fairly random (individuals probably won’t know each other beforehand).

It’s early days, but we are far more confident with this idea! Our next post will provide some more detail on how this social network may be designed and used.