An oceanmaster linked me to this virtual worlds chart on the Kzero website.
It's an interesting breakdown of virtual worlds by age demographic and theme. I personally think that Whirled should be a ring down and straddling 'Content Creation' and 'Casual Gaming' but what was striking is how virtual worlds have exploded in recent years. There are a lot of companies competing in that space, and one has to wonder how many of it is due to the media gushing about Second Life at every available opportunity the last several years.
What we at Three Rings got out of it, of course, was discovering Spicy Town, which is a virtual world made by Slim Jim, the processed meat stick snack company.
Spicy Town a pretty fantastic way to spend at about five minutes. The flash-based Spicy Town is the most cracked-out thing I've seen in quite a while, featuring frightening zombie-like flailing avatars that you provide your own face for and an urban ghetto as the setting, filled with objects that you are encouraged to "kick and punch as much as possible" because it relieves your burning underprivileged rage. Or so I believe. You encounter other frightening zombie flailing avatars in this world and you can a) friend them, or b) fist fight one another behind a fence. There is a book of social commentary to be written here. Also: the progress bar when you're loading? A burning meat stick.
The demographic seems to either be angry urban underprivileged youth or, more likely, youth who idolize angry urban underprivileged youth. I suppose it makes more sense than people in their thirties-forties, since if you have ever seen/eaten a Slim Jim, you understand very well that it's not worth your time to court product loyalty from a demographic that your product will kill with heart disease within a decade.
While we've seen quite a few worlds coming out in Whirled's space, nothing that combines content creation with socializing with flash games has been seen yet. It's quite a package, and I'm very curious to see how it turns out. Hopefully, with no offense intended, it will be quite different from Spicy Town. We wouldn't want to compete directly in anybody else's virtual meat space and duke it out behind a fence.