The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. BBC (UK) – Virtual worlds with real purposes. “The idea of having a virtual you following the real you around may seem rather strange – for those of us used to having our feet firmly on the ground.
But the creation of a virtual Berlin lets people be in two places at the same time – as 20km of the city has been faithfully replicated into an online world. By the end of 2008, 50,000 buildings in the German capital are expected to have been copied into the virtual world.”

2. Gamasutra (USA) – Interview: Sony’s Buser On PlayStation Home’s 2008 Launch. “Sony’s PlayStation Home online world for the PlayStation 3 has had a somewhat tortured genesis, with a long period of beta testing and a release date originally pegged for late 2007, before being delayed to Spring 2008 and back to now. However, PlayStation Home director Jack Buser tells Gamasutra that the release of the tardy but much-discussed PS3-defining virtual world “will launch this year”.

3. Licensing.biz (UK) – Nelvana content goes online. “Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana will now offer its aminated content on demand in the US UK, France and French speaking Europe.
Programme including 6teen, Tales from the Crypptkeeper and Di-Gata Defenders will be available through Tribal Nova’s KidStudio online environment.”

4. The Courier-Journal (USA) – Virtually addictive. “Every night, Dillard Raymer wields a sword, hunting wild boar and giant spiders and night elves. He meets his buddies, embarks on quests and occasionally finds himself in a battle. He uses magic and trades in gold in the lands of Azeroth. Then he goes to bed at his Valley Station home. It’s another successful night inside the World of Warcraft.”

5. The Guardian (UK) – Playing socially: virtual worlds with a gaming bent. “It’s my last day before I return to Blighty and the Friday after Thanksgiving, and I’m still stuffed full of last night’s mighty dinner. Rather than give myself indigestion with too much pontification and heavy-duty gaming mumbo jumbo, I thought I’d take the time to point you to some nice social play environments recommended by PC World. These spaces are the more playful, structured cousins to Second Life (although author Darren Gladstone does give that virtual world a whirl), which centre on gaming, but with a social element.”

6. iTnews (Australia) – Despite reports, Telstra and Second Life remain inseparable. “It’s a match made in heaven: Telstra is Australia’s biggest telco and ISP, while Second Life is one of the world’s hottest social networking tools. So when the media reported that “the game was almost over” for Second Life, Telstra was quick to defend its investment. Recently, Tourism Victoria withdrew its advertising funding from Second Life’s ABC Island. This prompted Deacons technology and media partner Nick Abrahams to comment to The Australian that “the drop in commercial interest in Second Life had been noticeable over the past nine months”.

7. mad.co.uk (UK) – Work and play. “The toy industry is a tough market, with retailers and brands fighting for consumer spend. Digital lets toy makers extend their connection with kids. The toy market is facing its toughest Christmas in at least two decades. While toy retailers are reporting it has already been quiet in the run-up to December, most are hoping the approach of the big day will spur shoppers to action. When they do start shopping, digital will play a crucial role in the fortunes of the industry.”

8. New Brunswick Business Journal (Canada) – Innovation Fredericton-based Syntesi heightening the training of tomorrow’s worker. “Syntesi Corporation, a subsidiary of Accreon, a Fredericton-based business consulting and information technology service provider, is looking for ways to train current and future workers that will meet its clients’ needs and teach the workers using media they can relate to. Tim Workman, vice-president of capability development for Syntesi, cites an American study suggesting more than 55 per cent of teens aged 12 to 17 are participating in online social networking, and half of them are gaming.”

9. Virtual Worlds News (USA) – Google: Lively Didn’t Meet “Tough Targets”; Looking to Use Tech Elsewhere. “When Google shut down Lively last week, it did so with as little fanfare as when it launched the virtual world, just a short blog post. Not much more has come out past the thoughts of a few partners and observers, and Google has been fairly tight-lipped. When I reached out to find out why the virtual world project was being canceled after only five months (and years in development) and to find out what might have been, I heard much the same thing as the official announcement. Google wanted to take risks, but also recognize when a gambled hand was finished.”

10. The Guardian (UK) – How an avatar on Second Life sparked a real-life court case. “Who is Victor Vezina? That’s the question bloggers have been asking since this Second Life avatar – a 3D representation of a real person – became embroiled in a legal dispute that could prove a test case for how much jurisdiction courts have over virtual worlds. Richard Minsky, an artist and publisher who also operates in Second Life, is suing Vezina, along with two directors of Linden Lab, owner of the virtual world, over use of the word “SLART”. Minsky obtained a US trademark in March 2008; Vezina had launched an art gallery called “SLart” in Second Life early in 2007. Curiously the case may turn on something as simple as a space between the letters SL and art: literally much ado about nothing.”

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