Ministry of Sound, the London club which has built up an exclusive and strong brand, launched its own website produced in-house by head of new media Bill Lovegrove (Dr Love). But when it came to developing a virtual nightclub, the Ministry enlisted the skills of Okupi, a young company specialising in the “design and build” of 3D interactive spaces.
The group of programmers, designers, animators and 3D model-makers has been working with the Ministry to create the virtual Ministry of Sound club for the Internet over the last three months. “We’re not rushing it because we want the brand represented in the best possible way. This is really cutting edge stuff and the process is making sure it fits in with their strategy. It’s got to be carefully thought out and planned,” claims Okupi managing director Simon Bore.
The Ministry’s objective is to translate the club’s qualities into a digital experience. “The Ministry of Sound is best at bringing people together to meet, listen to music and dance. We want to recreate that atmosphere on the Internet,” states Lovegrove. “Everything can be done in a virtual environment. You can move around, chat with other people, choose your own avatar and interact. We may put virtual bouncers in there and kick people out if they do anything untoward.”
As Lovegrove has a computer science background he has been very involved in the development of the site. “I’ve got a good idea of what can and can’t be done, and I’m confident Okupi are good software engineers and have a good knowledge of what we want to achieve for our brand. The Ministry virtual club is a lot warmer and more animated than a lot of virtual sites.”
Although the development of the virtual club is proving a substantial, and undisclosed, investment, Lovegrove claims: “It’s worthwhile because the virtual environment is the closest thing we can get to the Ministry of Sound in the on-line world.”
Bore, who is also founder and chair of the London Virtual Reality Group, believes 3D sites on the Internet are the thing of the future. “It won’t replace 2D, but people are expecting it.”