The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. The Chicago Tribune – Virtual dinner and a movie? Simulated dating ranks grow. “Paula Weisz’s favorite place to take her dates is the Millennium bar, where she can sip a glass of red wine and have a good conversation. She typically goes on one date per week with men she meets online at OmniDate.com.”

2. The Edmonton Journal (Canada) – Plug ‘n’ play. “Cyber sex isn’t just the late-night pastime of techno-tarts, sex addicts and pedophiles. Today, even the military thinks getting your virtual groove on is a matter of national security, says the creator of HighJoy.com, a virtual world where your vibrator meets your USB cable. “We create the technology that allows you to control another person’s vibrator over the Internet,” says Amir Vatan, co-founder of HighJoy Products.”

3. Linux Insider – Not Much Life in China’s Virtual Worlds. “Last November, Procter & Gamble’s Vidal Sassoon launched with much fanfare its first hair salon in China’s virtual world. There was even a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony. However, today the VS salon in HiPiHi, China’s oldest and largest virtual world (a simulated online environment where users adopt identities known as avatars), sits mostly empty save for the occasional visitor.”

4. Los Angeles Times – A Second Life for corporate America. “To save money in these tough times, universities, conference planners and global firms have started holding gatherings for far-flung employees and students in the online world known as Second Life. Sun Microsystems Inc., a Silicon Valley tech company, has only one rule: Employees should show up looking like humans.”

5. Science News – Scientists get a 2nd Life. “To track down neuroscientist Corey Hart, you could stop by his laboratory, located on the second floor of Drexel University’s medical building in Philadelphia. Or, you could visit the lab of Luciftias Neurocam, located in the virtual world of Second Life. Luciftias is Hart’s digital alter ego, or avatar. Like his real-life counterpart, Luciftias tracks the twitches of frogs’ muscles to find clues to the spinal cord’s ability to control movement.”

6. Gamasutra – GFH: Neils Clark On Moving Beyond ‘Game Addiction’. “Following his Gamasutra feature on the subject, writer and researcher Neils Clark spoke at the ongoing Games for Health conference in Baltimore on game addiction. In his talk at the conference, he covered the perceived problems, a run-down on why people might get addicted, and some proactive measures that developers can use to combat addictive behavior in the future.”

7. Reuters / Second Life – EVE Online experiments with virtual democracy. “It can be difficult for the most well-meaning of virtual worlds companies to understand what their customers want. But CCP, the company behind the sci-fi world of EVE Online, thinks they’ve solved the riddle: have users elect their own representatives. Sixty-one candidates are vying for nine spots in open voting on EVE’s website. The top vote getters will become the official representatives of EVE’s player community, and flown to Reykjavik, Iceland to share their thoughts on the game at the company’s headquarters.”

8. World Changing – Gold Farmers. “Gold Farmers are young people who earn their living by playing MMORPG games. They acquire (“farm”) items of value within a game, usually by carrying out in-game actions repeatedly to maximize gains, sometimes by using a program such as a bot or automatic clicker.”

9. Reason Magazine – Virtually Free. “In February, subscribers to the virtual world of Second Life awoke to a surprise: The garish, skyscraper-sized billboards they had learned to tolerate as part of their three-dimensional landscape were about to be vaporized, the site’s creators announced.”

10. Accountancy Age – DO enters Second Life. “BDO Stoy Hayward has launched on internet virtual world Second Life in a bid to open up its services to a broader audience. Its launch of an ‘island’ on the world will enable the firm to holding meetings online, presentations and events for staff and enhance recruitment options by engaging with a broader, international audience.”

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