China has launched the China Cyber Recreation District (CRD), an ambitious virtual business world akin to SecondLife, in a bid to capitalize on their fantastic economic growth, intending to cater for 150 million Chinese people and companies by 2010. According to the Irish Times (reg. req.), its backers include heavy hitters like Rupert Murdoch.
The CRD web site tells us:
“‘China Virtual Economy District’ it will play the leading role of virtual economy industry in the world. With a series of trading rules and data exchange standards, virtual enterprises with different resources and advantages can cooperate and help each other raising their abilities in doing business. ‘China Virtual Economy District’ creates a wide and whole new platform for traditional enterprises, internet companies and individuals to participate in.”
According to one of the chief scientists behind the project:
“A shirt is $1 when we make it in China. When it goes into a department store in Europe or the USA it will be $20. If we can get more of that $20, and we need to get $4 or $5, then China will be up there with developed countries. We know that $19 goes on design, marketing, advertising, but virtual worlds change that. In the virtual world, population counts for more than in the real world… we will convert the whole nation to virtual commerce so they can be in line with developed countries.”
But will it succeed? There are already serious issues with the nature of trust and security that determine consumer’s adoption of Internet transactions, so what challenges must the virtual environment hold in this regard is anyone’s guess. The EU has just launched the “Howard“ online consumer shopping assistant to help address this issue.
And the CRD folks are certainly not doing themselves any favors in addressing concerns over the quality of Chinese products with that dismal translation.
However, it is an interesting development, worth watching closely. On a related subject I’ll be reviewing Ian Bogost‘s impressive exploration of procedural rhetoric and electronic gaming in “Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames “ in a forthcoming issue of Multilingual.