China Launches Not-So-New Virtual World

Not exactly known for its innovation culture, China is home to a company that has just launched an on-line virtual world, HiPiHi, which appears to be quite similar to another digitally simulated world you’ve likely heard about or experienced.


Let’s see: You create an avatar to represent yourself. You navigate a variety of semi-3D scenes and interact with the things and people there. You can buy accessories and possessions for your avatar and you pay for those items in a currency unique to the game but that you have to “buy” with real money.


If you think that sounds exactly like Linden lab’s popular Second Life, you’re mistaken, says HiPiHi CEO Liu Xinhua, quoted by Poynter Online.


“HiPiHi will make it much simpler than Second Life for users to create objects by using pre-fab [modules]. Users will have much better experience in building something they are interested in.”


Oh, okay. It’s not a rip-off because HiPiHI’s developers have taken all the ideas behind Second Life and improved upon some of them. I’m sure that will satisfy the lawyers at Linden Labs.


While we are on the subject of China, a new free site, Great Firewall of China, purports to check any url address to see if it is censored in China. (The Force for Good blog is available in China, according to this site.)


- Jon Harmon


  1. Vahsek says:

    I got informed about the Chinese site from you. Thanks for this.
    Congratulations for you being accessible from China.
    I tested for my blog too. It’s AVAILABLE there! (But I hardly have seen any visitor from mainland China)
    With regards

  2. Bob "Pritch" Pritchard says:

    I had my first experience with business, specifically, public relations in China while as a Navy Public Affairs Officer. A group of five PAOs were assigned in 1987 to handle the first U.S. ship visit to mainland China since 1949. I returned in a new capacity (still a Navy PAO) in 1994. What I saw on both visits were transparent attempts to copy the West, all the while denying they were doing so. They’ve been doing that for a lot longer, I’m sure. The fact is, they get away with it because of their economy. Business, especially U.S. business, wants to break into that market so badly, they’d sell their souls to make it happen. We should be careful. Once they surpass the economy of the U.S. – and they will one day – they’ll be calling the shots.

  3. Adam Denison says:

    So I’m hearing alot about the exploding world of avatars. Are there any PR implications with avatars?

  4. Jon Harmon says:

    Avatars allow people to navigate a virtual world and interact with things and people there. Second Life is becoming increasingly popular with businesses. For example, global PR agency Text 100 uses Second Life’s interactive conference facilities to allow their people all over the world to participate in somethng close to face-to-face meetings. Each person in the meeting is represented by an avatar. It takes a little getting used to sitting next to an eight-foot tall man with a rooster head in an important business meeting and so most corporate cultures really aren’t ready for it yet. We’ll have to see if it catches on…
    Another PR/Marketing implication is to expose consumers (by way of their avatars) to your products. However, you have to find some unique way for customers to experience your products in this interactive world or what’s the point? For example, Toyota has a virtual dealership which enables you to see and test drive their cars in Second Life. But it is much clumsier than a good video game and doesn’t really allow you to do or see anything you couldn’t do on their website, so it seems at this point like a waste of a lot of money.
    Plus there is the problem of fitting into a Camry as an eight-foot tall rooster man.

  5. Gang Lu says:

    Hey Jon,
    If you are interested, you can find more info about HiPiHi here:

  6. Jon Harmon says:

    I posted your comment so other Force for Good readers could check out the story from Hio Xu’s perspective.
    He says, “It is absolutely a misunderstanding of the virtual world if people think HiPiHi is a copycat of SecondLife. The virtual world is not just a 3D environment, but a complicate social system including the property policy, financial policy etc. HiPiHi is born in China, we really hope it can embrace our own culture.”
    To which I say: “It is so totally a rip-off of Second Life.”

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