On Friday, Microsoft launched their “Ultimate Steal” promotion, which allows university students from around the globe to create and customize their own avatar, or digital alter-ego, at the Ultimate College All-Nighter and Ultimate College Idol “playgrounds”. To get started and create your own avatar you’ll first need to head over to theultimatesteal.com/Sweepstakes and register.
Once registered, students can begin to create their characters, and utilizing Voki technology from Oddcast, they’ll also be able to use their voice to make a speaking avatar story, and then share their stories or songs in the “playgrounds”, publish them to other social networking websites (like Facebook), or e-mail them to friends.
There are two competitions open to students, including:
- The Ultimate College Idol – students take center stage, exhibiting their best – and possibly worst – talent. More important, students have a chance to flaunt their school spirit and use that as their inspiration.
- The Ultimate College All-Nighter – students can use their avatar to tell the world about their favorite all-nighter – whether they skipped sleep to cram, stayed out partying until dawn, or rode an adrenaline rush through a non-stop gaming session.
The competitions are open for at least another month yet, until January 31, 2008. Visitors to the website will be able to view and rate performances from both of the competitions. Creators of the avatars also have the opportunity to enter into the Xbox Pick a Game sweepstakes, where winners can take hope one of approximately 50 available Xbox 360 titles. Winners of the Xbox sweepstakes will be announced on January 31, 2008.
Microsoft first launched their “The Ultimate Steal” promotion in September when students headed back to school. The deal is, eligible students can pick up Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007 at a special rate of just $59.95. This offer is valid through the spring in Canada, France, Italy, the UK, and US, and expires April 30, 2008.
Alan Yates, Microsoft’s general manager of Worldwide Public Sector Education said that the competions aren’t just designed to be fun, but “they offer students a way to engage technology at a very personal level.” Additionally, he said that Microsoft is “committed to helping students access the products they need to be successful while in school and on into their post-graduate career, while giving them an opportunity to experience cutting-edge technology in a fun and exciting way.”
Have you ever seen that commercial on TV where the one guy is telling this other guy about his online avatar? That commercial pretty much sums up my feelings on avatars and “second life” – if its not making you money, what’s the point? But at least with this I guess students do have a chance to win some prizes, so they’ll get something out of it besides being marketed to.