After months of anticipation Halo is here along with all the noise fans can make and Microsoft can buy. The buzz volume is understandable given what’s at stake.

Halo fans

The New York Times reports “The success of Halo 3 is critical for Microsoft, which has struggled to get its Xbox game players into homes around the world. While it is primarily a game machine, the Xbox 360 also plays DVDs and movies downloaded from the Internet. Microsoft views the game machine as an entry point into the home, where it may serve as an entertainment hub.”

I admit all the buzz has me going and I can’t wait to see what Redmond has wrought. However the buzz over Halo and Xbox obscures the fact that millions of laptop and desktop computers — and YouTube, MySpace and FaceBook — are already their owners/families entertainment hub. This halo of attention distracts from the news out of Arizona about Google’s emerging interest in the metaverse, which Virtual World News reported on Monday (coincidentally while I was writing the previous post about the convergence of MMOGs and social media in browser-based games). Raph Koster and Lee Wilson also picked up on the news.

The Virtual World News story also connected the dots between the blind beta test at Arizona State University and Google’s determination to bump MySpace out of it’s current first-place position in social media. screen shot of virtual world beta test at ASUHere’s a screenshot of what ASU students saw (click to enlarge). On the same day VWN posted its report, the Vallewag chimed in that “the real Googler behind its virtual world was very likely Google’s engineering manager Niniane Wang. Prior to her move to California in 2003, she was a lead design engineer at Microsoft Games working on Flight Simulator 2004 and racing games. Sounds like the perfect background for a fly-through metaverse.” Could the choice of ASU have anythig to do with professor James Gee’s recent move from the University of Wisconsin to Arizona?