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Jan 30, 2005



Slightly on a tangent, but I can recommend Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow. This decent fiction read focuses on the implications of infinite life span but touches on some mmog-ish issues including reputation systems, verifiable identity, the wisdom of crowds, and content creation. And of course, most of it takes place in Disney World...


Hi Betsy,

Great article!

I think you raise the core questions very well here, as well as highlight some of the trends that we can already see emerging with the MMO technology.

There are some real risks being taken by some pretty big companies here. That said, if Disney's experience turns out to be anything like Coke's then we could see some real interesting shifts in how very large companies interact with their market base in the near future.

Fascinating stuff!



Also slightly on tanget, I might recommend a perusal of Designing Disney's Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance by Karal Ann Marling. I was able to attend the exhibit (for which this is the catalog) and was impressed by the amount of attention that goes into the design of the Disney Theme parks. Examples of chosing culturally appropriate colors for Disneyland Tokyo to creating a Main Street USA for EuroDisney that most Americans would harely recognize.

Personally, I think there are a lot of lessons about virtual environment layout that can be picked up from the way the various parks have been designed. One of my favorite lessons from the exhibit is that predicting the future as entertainment is dangerous: if you are wrong, you look foolish; if you are right (worse), you become boring. Now Tomorrowland is a little more like JulesVerneLand which taps into the nostalgia of wondering about the future.

Anyway, more on topic. I recall that when Disney produced their first TV series, it was all about Disney land with models, artisitc views and Walt walking the audience through the park. I found a link at www.museum.tv that gives details. Looks like it was pretty blatent, too.


The concept of Virtual Kingdom has certainly changed since I worked on the design almost three years ago now. The project then was a true massively-multiplayer RPG, although utilizing various Disney intellectual properties was always part of the mix. The interesting challenge was creating a virtual world that could comfortably encompass so many very different properties, both animated and live action, from (used as possible examples only) Mickey Mouse to X-games. The design incorporated a unique hardware device; player links to the world across -all- media; the effect players could have on the world, including opening up new areas at the players' pace (one of my personal crusades); and the lack of traditional leveling. Another designer, Noah Falstein, was working on a parallel design at the same time. I frankly thought VK was dead when Disney Interactive closed their inhouse development. Nice to see it survived.


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