The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Sydney Morning Herald – They’re virtually famous. “Imagine an art gallery where you can not only touch the works on display, you can walk over them, sit on them, even fly through them. Such actions would doubtless send security staff into apoplexy, but in Second Life, the world is your oyster. Today three Australian artists unveil their exhibition Babelswarm in the 3D virtual world of Second Life, an interactive sculpture based on the mythical Tower of Babel. For those who like the old-fashioned gallery experience, there is a “real” show at Lismore Regional Gallery.”

2. PC World – Hackers Increasingly Target Browsers. “Threats against browsers are getting more sophisticated and branching out into such exotic areas as gaming, experts told attendees at the recent RSA Conference 2008. New attacks from games and virtual-world Web sites can deliver bot-like control of browsers to attackers, said Ed Skoudis, a security consultant with Intelguardians, speaking at RSA. All that’s needed is for the infected image of an avatar to appear. “The character walks into view of the screen, and I take over the box,” he said.”

3. Fox Business – The Perfect Night For Spacing Out. “Saturday night is prime time for a party, and all the better if it’s a party celebrating our past and future in outer space. This year, Saturday night is Yuri’s Night, which marks the anniversary of humanity’s first ride into space as well as the space shuttle’s first flight. The executive director of Yuri’s Night, Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides, says the event is particularly aimed at Generation Y, the young adults who will be building the spaceships of the future – and paying most of the bill. So it’s a good time to remember why space exploration is worth having a party over.”

4. Boing Boing – BBtv – Avatar Machine, Marc Owens’ wearable simulator of virtual worlds. “Avatar Machine, by designer Marc Owens, is a wearable device that simulates the experience of third-person gaming environments. By wearing this costume and head-mounted camera with VR goggles, a user can view themselves as a sort of virtual character while moving around and interacting in the real world.”

5. ZDNet – The 3-D Web Goes Thin. “Increasingly, it looks like Weight Watchers has gotten hold of the Semantic Web. Fat is out. Thin is in. And while no one’s counting points, it certainly looks like, thin clients will increasingly play a central roles in attracting organizations to the 3-D web. A number of companies are enabling organizations and users to build their own virtual worlds with little more than a browser, much the way Ning, GoingOn, HiveLive, Flux, Me.com, and BricaBox has done for social networks. These instant-virtual-world companies include Vivaty, Altadyn with 3dxplorer, and to a lesser extent ScreenCaster and VastPark.”

6. Contagious – Habbo’s Global Youth Survey. “To gain an insight into what those elusive teens think and what they spend time doing online, Habbo has conducted its Global Youth Survey, questioning 58,000 teens aged 11-18 over 31 countries, including Europe, US and Latin America.”

7. The University Daily Kansan – Osama is hiding-out in Orgrimmar? “The Bush administration seems to think that Osama Bin Laden is in Pakistan. They are wrong. He is cowering behind the auction house in Orgrimmar. From there he leads a vast terror network stretching from Kalimdor to the Eastern Kingdom and even into Outland. When he and his followers aren’t plotting the downfall of the West they are raiding Molten Core. As ridiculous as all of this sounds, that is what the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity group, a US government funded program, has come to believe.”

8. The Northern Star (Lismore, NSW) – First get a Second Life. “Lismore Regional Gallery is staging Australia’s first exhibition of Second Life art. Second Life is a virtual world where people all over the planet can go online and live part of their life in a computer-generated world which has, among other things, its own economy. The exhibition, call Babelswarm, is an interdisciplinary artwork in Second Life exploring words and art.”

9. Gamasutra – MI6 Creative Keynote: CSI Creator Calls For Games, TV To Converge. “Anthony Zuiker, creator and executive producer of CBS’ massive television franchise CSI, called for “cross-blending storytelling” across multiple media formats including television and games, in his creative keynote at the MI6 Game Marketing event in San Francisco.”

10. Reuters – Virtual world offers bands global stage. “Leo Wolff, a woman who joined the online world of Second Life in 2005, bought a small plot of virtual land with eight other musicians and opened the “Virtual Garage” to showcase and perform their music. Her online character, or avatar, Slim Warrior was the first British musician to perform in the popular virtual world with its own currency and a growing economy. She was also the first to duet online with another artist based as far away as Texas.”

11. TechCrunch – Erepublik Combines MMOG And Social Networking. “Madrid, Spain based startup Erepublik is aiming to make its mark in the online gaming community with a model that combines MMOG and social network. At its core, Erepublik is a massive online multiplayer social strategy that aims to be intricate and accelerated enough “to attract a spectrum of both fanatical and casual gamers.” Players can be politicians, soldiers, entrepreneurs or journalists in different countries, and much of the environment is user generated. The game is still in invite only beta testing, but has 10,000 beta testers from 43 countries currently playing the game. A key pitch of Erupblik is the time required to play the game: 14 minutes a day.”

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