Last summer, Boston-based 8D World secured both big name game talent and big
bucks on its road to virtual worlds fame. With $7 million in a Series A funding
from Spark Capital and Gobi Ventures and the presence of traditional game
veteran Rick Goodman, the company promised an upcoming virtual world that
would connect people around the globe. This week, the business model behind
the start-up was revealed as a language-learning online destination targeted to kids; one that relies
on bots as teachers.
The world, known as Wiz World Online, has already been launched in a beta version
The company is using bots as teachers for now, aiming to assure parents
the site is a safe haven for kids. Over time, however, the company plans on
transitioning to a VOIP model with live teachers.
The trajectory of the company is to first exploit Asian markets, then pursue
a more global presence. English will be the only language taught.
Today, Wiz World Online is free, but over time, 8D expects to ratchet up the
business model to include subscriptions, microtransactions and sponsorships.
Speaking to Mass High Tech, founder
Alex Wang said users are the sort that want to go beyond the often sub-standard learning experience local schools and businesses provide. he thinks there is a market for those who want to be able to order food at
McDonald’s or coffee at a Starbucks in perfect rather than halting English.
Language learning is the most common education-based activity in Second Life, according to Linden Lab Vice President of Platform and Technology
Development Joe Miller. That seems to be something of an inspiration to Wang,
who told the site, "Given the international population that’s going to
be making use of this kind of online training, I think it really makes sense to
go into the Second Life model."
In addition to Wang and Goodman, the Wiz World Online team includes translation
expert Daben Liu, who created the world's "language robots," and
creative content director Jodie Waldesbuhl, a former public school teacher who
has consulted on English language acquisition projects in Asia and
[via Mass High Tech]
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