Spotlight on IMVU

In an effort to try to define social media in class we examined a social media landscape graphic. There were several sections, which showed us how diverse, and expansive social media can be past the frequented Facebook and Twitter. For example one of the least highlighted forms of social media is “virtual worlds”. There was a section for virtual worlds and one next to it for social games. I know next to nothing about either of these topics but one title did stick out to me. Recently I read Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup. Ries is one of the cofounders of a virtual listed on the landscape. I was extra fascinated to learn about what his business, IMVU, actually does more and it’s purpose as a social media instrument because I knew of it from the angle of a startup business.

IMVU is a social media because it is a platform allowing members to make 3D avatars in order to “meet new people, chat, create, and play games with their friends in various languages in the United States and internationally.” The way it works is you just sign up or you can chose to sign in through Facebook, Twitter, or your Google account and then you create an avatar. You get to choose a name and you must enter your email address. It is strictly social and essentially a way to pass the time. Through my investigation I find no other purpose for it in the way that social media can be used as communication tactics to the greater public. This would only be a communication tactic within members about the avatars and their actions within the site. If this is a fascinating and puzzling to you as it is to me check out this info video!

The most similar thing to these virtual worlds is a site we read about called Games for Change. Games for Change helps create similar “entertainment” games but these stimulate social impact. This forum elicits more purpose (in my humble opinion) than IMVU be because of its efforts to harness this tool for “humanitarian and education efforts.”

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2 responses to “Spotlight on IMVU

  • Jillian Waller

    I don’t know much about Games for Change or IMVU, but I feel like adding humanitarian aspects to entertainment games may not be effective. Although Games for Change is certainly more impactful than IMVU, it may be encouraging “slacktivism.” It makes users feel like they’re doing something admirable or helpful by playing games, when in reality their impact isn’t at all measurable

  • briannasteinmetz

    I similarly had never heard of these virtual game sites such as Games for Change or IMVU until class; however, through my research I have concluded that these game sites are simply just games. While I think adding a humanitarian aspect to the game can increase people’s knowledge and awareness to certain development issues, I do not think these games have the capacity to do much more than that. Personally, I think as a development community, we should not endorse these games and we should maintain a sharp separation between donating and helping development initiatives and simply learning about issues.

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