Thursday I met up with Rich Weil, Director of Community Relations for the World of Kaneva, for a guided tour. He was a wonderful guide and showed me around while he talked a little about what is happening in Kaneva now, as well as what is ahead.
What – Kaneva is an online virtual world (currently in live beta) where participants can create a free account and download client software to log into the world. It is not a game, it is a virtual, social world – like Second Life, Active Worlds or There.com. When you create an account a space on Kaneva’s community web site is also created for you that operates similarly to MySpace. Think of the whole thing as a mashup between a social network and a virtual world.
Where – My initial foray into Kaneva was unaccompanied and I missed a lot of what was happening – having no idea where to go. Upon logging in I found myself at the mall, the default location for everyone’s first visit to the world. In the mall you can buy clothes, shoes, and a few other things to further customize your avatar. Things that you purchase are stored in your inventory until you are ready to use them. Although there are plenty of people who are happy to chat with you in the mall there are other places to visit too – this was the piece I was missing.
Rich showed me how to search for hangouts and people and use the Travel button to get to places I find (like teleporting in SL). Now Kaneva was beginning to feel much larger.
There are two types of spaces in this world – personal and community. Each person is given an apartment to decorate and invite friends to when they create their account – these are the personal spaces. Additionally, every group that is created on the Kaneva community web site is given a community space in world that is also customizable.
Who – The first thing that struck me about the Kaneva community is just HOW social they are. I had been getting lots of raves and friend requests as I wandered around – not even realizing it until I happened across the Personal Messages window, only to find three whole pages of requests. The same thing happens on the community web site.
Something else that surprised me was that the community allows teens, and spaces containing adult content are marked as “restricted,” which essentially denies access to those who are underage.
Kaneva is ALL about being social and that is how they are differentiating themselves from other virtual worlds. They try to make it as easy as possible to stream in and share media from other social web sites within apartments and the community spaces.
How – So what is the business model here and how do they plan on making money? Credits. Right now everyone is spawned into Kaneva with credits that they can spend on clothing and furniture. In the future, credits will be available for purchase to allow residents to build and customize their spaces out further.
What sets Kaneva apart from other MMOs is the Kaneva Game Platform (KGP). The KGP is open source and available for download to enable anyone to develop their own virtual world. While the KGP is not directly tied to the live Kaneva world, those who are interested can host their own servers for custom development (more here). There are licensing options outlined on their website. Kaneva also supports a developer community.
Kaneva looks very interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing more examples of how people are sharing media in world.
Unfortunately, the platform is only available for Windows at the moment, so Mac and Linux users will have to wait a little before they are able to connect.
Kaneva Inc is based in Atlanta, GA.