The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. PC World (USA) – Real Life will Trump Second Life, Microsoft Says. “Microsoft’s Craig Mundie has dismissed the potential of “synthetic virtual worlds” like Second Life, saying that the potential for immersive environments will be likely realized through 3D tools that capture and model the real world. Mundie and robot/Photosynth demoMundie, who oversees research and long-term strategy for Microsoft, devoted a significant portion of his “Rethinking Computing” presentation at MIT’s Emerging Technology conference to what he called the “Spatial Web,” a blend of 3D, video, and location-aware technologies. At the center of several of his demos was Photosynth, a Microsoft software tool that can create 3D models using 2D photographs taken with an ordinary digital camera.”

2. Kotaku (USA) – ‘Next Big Thing, or Next Big Bust?’: Virtual Worlds. “The Cutter IT Journal is offering their latest issue — on the subject of the challenges of virtual worlds — for free (registration required); the issue includes articles on ‘real world’ applications of virtual worlds and the pitfalls and promises of such a presence. I’ve only had time to read the introduction and breeze quickly through the rest of the issue, but if you’re interested in the rise (?) of virtual worlds, it looks to have some interesting fodder.”

3. Associated Content (USA) – Armed Services Train in Virtual World. “It all began in 2001 when a Czech game studio released an award winning video game title on the PC called Operation Flashpoint. Developed by Bohemia Interactive Studio, the game was praised as being the most realistic war game to ever hit the market. Booming in sales with millions of copies sold, Bohemia Interactive decided to take what they have created, only this time create a product that deviates from gamers, and focuses on the United States Armed Forces and others. A new Bohemia Interactive was built in Australia, where Operation Flashpoint would be amped up into what’s called Virtual Battle Space 1 (VBS1). The USMC now uses VBS1, training soldiers in combat and strategy. It is also used by Australia and New Zealand.”

4. Law.com (USA) – An Avatar’s Bill of Rights. “The 3-D Internet, or “Web 3.0,” is an amalgam of virtual reality, convention center, circus, college campus, nightclub, mall, playground and Main Street. Users are getting their first taste of Web 3.0 on virtual world sites like Second Life, which are typically “members only” proprietary sites accessed through the Internet. People are drawn to the interactive, immersing experience these sites offer, and by some estimates there are as many as 300 million active users. Businesses are also intrigued by the promise of making real money there.”

5. Design News (USA) – Dassault Helps Microsoft Shape Virtual Earth. “outing a new 3-D remix capability, Dassault Systemes has released the latest version of Shape, its free 3-D modeling software, which also lies at the core of the newest release of Microsoft’s Virtual Earth platform. The new Shape 2.0, aimed at consumers who want to get their feet wet building 3-D models and similar to Google SketchUp, will now allow users to construct or “remix” 3-D scenes using models contributed by other users on the 3DVIA.com community’s content library.”

6. Gamasutra (USA) – How Do You Kickstart The Virtual Worlds Movement? “Defining the future of virtual worlds is difficult when clear guidelines for what they are and what they can do have not really been established — hence, the formation of the Virtual Worlds Roadmap Special Interest group, which plans to have its first formal workshop next month in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group, which is formed by high-placed members from a variety of technology companies, aims to meaningfully define what is required from virtual worlds in a variety of social and technological contexts, hoping to grow the nascent space beyond just a group of children’s online hangouts (like Habbo Hotel) and game-related MMO applications (such as World of Warcraft).”

7. InformationWeek (USA) – Second Life’s Popularity Rests On Breadth Of Activities. “The Second Life phenom could not have happened without the many in-world avenues for users, or residents, to express themselves, often through through collaborative play and performance.
As the company tries for a second act under a new CEO and targets new markets, users are busy doing what they’ve always done in Second Life. What is there to do in Second Life? Finding your way around and learning about what to do there can be tricky for newcomers. Here is some information to help you get started.”

8. Haber 27 (Turkey) – Textual Satisfaction: Beyond the Sex Machine. “It was just a matter of time before what we knew about autoeroticism became old news and conventional cybersex became just another devolved masturbation technique. In this era of sexual technology revolution, people are always toiling away at making things better, getting the bugs out and making a product more satisfactory. Masturbation has come a long way from finding creative ideas using items at home, other than your hand, to do the job. ”

9. The Sun (UK) – Super Mario vs … Sackboy. “Stand aside Super Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog –— this is Sackboy . . . and he is about to become a worldwide celebrity. The little cloth man is being pushed by video games giant Sony as their defining mascot for the Noughties — and he’s British. The Japanese computer giants, who are pumping millions into the character, reckon every kid in the world will want their own virtual one in the next few months.”

10. The West Australian (Australia) – A Second Life chance on the beat in WA. “WA Police have entered a new world in police recruitment – a virtual, 3D universe to attract real life budding police officers. The Second Life “Step Forward” Virtual Recruiting Pavilion is WA Police’s way of boosting new officers to the beat via the social network, Second Life.”

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