Posted by Bettina Tizzy
This is a gentle rant brought on by Vanity Fair magazine's twitter: "@VanityFairmag Don't Be Fooled by Avatar's Lame Trailer http://is.gd/2s7YX #Avatar" a couple of hours ago. For like forever, I've been known to say that if I only had access to three magazines to keep up with the state-of-play, smarter, faster, better-informed intelligentsia, I'd pick Vanity Fair, Businessweek, and Utne Reader, and that selection still stands, but it's teetering. Vanity Fair, don't make the same mistake that Chris Anderson and his Wired made in 2006. I forgive you, but hurry up and realize that avatars are ahead of the curve. Like you. In fact, your readers are mostly going to embrace their avatarhood and evangelize about it within the next three years, and that "lame" Avatar trailer and movie are going to have something (if not a lot) to do with it.
It was 1997 and opening night. I recall whispering in the dark to my companion that if Kate Winslet's aged character "throws that damned necklace into the sea, I'm going to have to leave the theater." And she did. And I did. To this day, I have never seen the ending of James Cameron's Titanic, the all-time highest grossing film at the box office. So yes, I have questioned and even suffered visceral adverse reactions to Cameron's work.
Yesterday, I watched the teaser trailer for Avatar, slated to hit theaters this December. I've spent the better part of the last two years traipsing around virtual worlds as an avatar, so I'll confess that the poor trailer was in trouble even before I hit the "play" button. My overlayed cynical filter was as thick as the bottom of a glass Coke bottle and I fully expected to loathe it.
But I didn't hate it. Turns out that I can hardly wait to see it, and it made me want to learn more about the plot, the script and how and where it was produced. It looks as real as the island of Kauai does, which stands to reason because that's where most of it was shot.
I don't play games in virtual worlds. As Metanomics puts it, I'm all over the serious aspects of three-dimensional persistent, immersive, massively multi-player online "games," such as art, architecture, business and education. I've put up with an awful lot to be an early-adopter avatar, including lag so bad that my "character" couldn't move, umpteen flying penises and banana phones (annoying griefing devices employed by sophomoric idiots), communications so shoddy that my text chat never made it to the person or people I was trying to speak with, and hundreds upon hundreds of *crashes,* to mention only a few of the ways that I have been inconvenienced.
Things are picking up for avatars though and at a high rate of speed. Stability, scalability, tools for user-created content, communication, and collaboration are all vastly improving. The number of choices an avatar has on how to spend a quality hour consistently overwhelms me in much the same way selecting an art film to screen in Manhattan does. And just this week, industry analysts at Piper Jaffray released their forecasts for virtual goods, indicating that 2009 US revenues are expected to hit $621 million (134% over 2008), and $2.5 billion in 2013. Global revenues from virtual goods should exceed $2.2 billion this year, and climb to $6 billion by 2013. I'm old enough to remember when total online (2.0 web-based) revenues were lower than that, and how so many detractors doubted they'd rise significantly for decades. Heh.
Just two days ago I finally got around to downloading the client for the new virtual world Blue Mars that's in private Beta until... sometime real soon now (maybe in a couple of weeks?), and I can only say that I was overcome and dazzled by the life-like graphics, the rolling ocean foam, the exuberant vegetation and shadows that behaved the way real shadows do. In fact, it looked a lot like the trailer for Avatar.
Virtual Space Entertainment is just one of the developers rushing to create content on Blue Mars' gorgeous CryEngine2 platform
So wait, Vanity Fair. Please tell us why the Avatar trailer is lame?
Friday, August 21, 2009
Posted by Bettina Tizzy