The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Newstrack India – Stardoll.com is Brit kids’ most popular site. “Britain’s most popular website for under-12s has been set up to pass on the art of knitting clothes for dolls, according to a new survey. The survey by the Internet analysts Nielsen Online put Stardoll.com at the head of its Top Ten sites visited by the youngest web users. Second in the list was Club Penguin, a virtual world in which players adopt a bird and march it round the beach, theatre or school.”

2. Tampa Bay Business Journal – Entrepreneurs find typical business strategies don’t work in a virtual world. “After previous stops in New York, San Francisco and Chicago, the Second Life Community Convention steps into reality at the Tampa Marriott Waterside the weekend of Sept. 5. It’s visiting a city that already has had its share of entrepreneurs who have jumped into a realm only the Internet, and maybe even a little science fiction on the side, could create.”

3. The Times (UK) – Where the web kids are. “Are they lurking in the darker reaches of YouTube? Or delivering a series of ‘pokes’ and other greetings on the social networking site Facebook? Nope. Today’s kids aged 12 and under are likely to be whiling away their online hours playing games on sites you have never heard of.”

4. Wall Street Journal (USA) – Fluid Entertainment Invites Kids to Play With Purpose in Emerald Island. “Today, Fluid Entertainment announces the title and first details for Emerald Island(TM), their original children’s MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) game. The company, whose formation and funding was announced earlier this year, is adding this upcoming title to their extensive library of software games for children. Currently in development and slated for release Fall of 2008, Emerald Island challenges players to become online eco-heroes in a mission to save a vibrant, imaginary, virtual world from environmental destruction.”

5. AsiaOne (Singapore) – Donation, sir? It’s online. “A Singapore charity has taken fund-raising to the virtual world, The Straits Times reported. Instead of selling flags or lucky draw coupons potential donors now visit the giant virtual universe Second Life. They enter a special zone filled with candy castle, lollipop trees and chocolate rivers. Each of these virtual goodies come with an option to buy them, and all it takes is a click for the cost of the items to be debited from their virtual accounts. At the close of the donation drive on Sept 21, the virtual funds, collected in Second Life’s currency Linden dollars, will be converted to real Singapore dollars.”

6. Ars Technica (USA) – One month later: Google Lively? Not so much. “In July, Google released Lively, a “Second Life in the browser” plug-in that lets anyone embed a basic 3D chat realm on a website or blog. We strolled through Google’s new social world back then and found that, possibly as a result of the “20 percent time” Google allows employees to spend on projects like this, Lively seemed to be 20 percent done. Now, a month later, we took another look to see if Lively is living up to its name.”

7. Times Union (USA) – Redirecting kids’ passion for video games. “Your son in high school can lay down a face-melting solo on “Guitar Hero,” while your middle school daughter can reach the highest levels on her Hannah Montana video game. They spend hours, without parental provocation, passionately engrossed in their Nintendo DS and Xbox 360 systems like young Einsteins burrowing into a physics problem.”

8. GigaOM (USA) – Why The MMORPG Subscription-Based Business Model Is Broken. “Famed game developer and analyst Scott Jennings recently announced on his blog that he’s quit online game publishing giant NCSoft to join John Galt Games. His new home is the small casual game startup developing Web Wars, a sci-fi game played via a browser plug-in, where web sites themselves are territories to fight over. (Sort of RocketOn meets battle cruisers.) The move is a bit like a top Hollywood producer quitting the movie business for an obscure online-video startup; it’s such a big jump, you want to know why.”

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