Despite the growing body of evidence to the contrary, if you ask people to describe the stereotypical video game player, most would describe a teenage boy who spend hours a day playing violent video games in isolation. But as with most stereotypes, perception is usually very far from reality.
Take the video gamer described above. Would you be surprised to learn that the average video gamer is a 35 year old male who has been playing for 13 years? But wait, there’s more.
According to the 2008 Electronic Software Association’s 2008 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry:
- 40% of all players are women and women over 18 years of age are one of the industry's fastest growing demographics;
- Adult women represent a greater portion of the game-playing population (33%) than boys age 17 or younger (18%);
- 26% of game players are over the age of 50;
- 56% percent of online game players are male and 44% are female.
Clearly there is a huge market opportunity for the video and online game industry to meet the needs of this burgeoning casual gaming demographic. World Golf Tour (WGT) is a free online golfing destination whose goal is to be the premier virtual world destination designed to meet the needs of an affluent, dynamic and active community.
So, what exactly is World Golf Tour? Take the popularity of online gaming, mash it with the nearly 61 million golfers in the world, throw in a dash of Second Life and you have World Golf Tour. Like other virtual worlds, WGT has a variety of key features:
- Members of WGT can create a customized avatar, build a social network, create a user profile and friend other players;
- WGT also has multiplayer support, allowing you to challenge your friends or hit the greens solo;
- In addition, WGT has amazing 3D graphics that make you feel like you are on a real golf course.
- Members can also check their stats on the global leader board, participate in skill challenges.
- WGT members can compete in tournaments for prizes, sharing scores, testing out the newest equipment and reading the latest news in the golfing world.
All in all WGT is off to an impressive start. In fact the membership numbers have zoomed, with unique visitors up an astonishing 922% over last month.
LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW WGT CREATED THEIR AMAZING 3D IMAGES
A couple things worth noting:
- WGT has amazing 3D graphics, but it eats up a lot of memory. In fact, my browser (I’m using FF 3.0.3) crashed, slowed down and/or froze. This happened on both my Mac and PC. Other WGT users have reported the same issues. That said, the WGT does an amazing job of working the community forums and helping resolve issues.
- If don’t already have it on your computer, you’ll need Flash 9 or higher to use the game. You can download it here.
- Taking a monetization cue from virtual worlds aimed at t/weens, WGT will offer virtual golf goods for members to purchase. I assume this will include things like better clubs and/or branded accessories for your avatar.
- Credits are the in-world currency at WGT. In order to play in some World Golf Tour online tournaments, you will need to pay an entry fee with game credits.
Things I’d like to see:
- A WGT widget that you can slap on your blog, website, or Facebook page;
- I’d also like to see WGT use social web tools like Twitter or Get Satisfaction as community outreach tools beyond the borders of the WGT environment;
- I found the WGT music to be very annoying. There really needs to be a “Mute” button in the header. (Tip: If you go into your profile, you can turn the music and other sounds off.)
As the buzz around WGT continues to gain momentum, I have no doubt that WGT will continue to grow in popularity among golfers and gamers alike. In fact, if the economic meltdown continues, don’t be surprised if this winter’s hottest golf retreat ends up being virtual the links on The World Golf Tour.
All in all the team over at WGT has created an impressive virtual world that has masterfully combined the social nature of golf with online gaming and brought it to the social web.