We posted an interview today with Sherry Gunther, CEO and founder of Masher Media, which is developing a virtual world for kids, MyMiniPeeps.com. The firm is not the first–nor will it be the last–virtual world to surface out of Southern California’s technology landscape. Does Southern California have something which seems to encourage virtual world companies? Or it is just by chance that many of these virtual worlds show up based down here? Sherry told me, “What I truly feel is absolutely paramount to any successful entertainment project, is the content itself. It’s never about technology.”
Have virtual worlds stepped beyond the initial phases of technology development to where content–a strong industry in Southern California–now becoming a more important factor? Is the strong history of video game development here also giving Southern California a good position in this field?
I think it might. Some of the biggest “virtual worlds”–and I’d argue that massively multiplayer, online games also fit this category–include Irvine-based Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, and Sony Online Entertainment’s EverQuest. Other virtual worlds here: Neopets, which started in Glendale, Pasadena-based Whyville, San Diego’s Metaplace, Action All Stars in Marina Del Rey, and kids-focused virtual worlds from Torrance-based Knowledge Adventure. Not to mention, Disney–with its headquarters here–with Club Penguin and other similar efforts, as well as Mattel, with Barbie Girls. I’m sure I’m missing many, but it does seem that the influence of entertainment and content, and video game development means there is a pool of people here with the right background in this industry.