Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. We may be biased, but Tateru Nino’s weekly Virtual Whirl column over at Massively is always worth a read – this week it has lots of Linden Lab staff movements and quite a bit more.

2. 2D social networks for avatars continue to thrive. One of the big success stories is Koinup, which has recently been adopted by Frenzoo. I’ve also had some conversations with recent entrant Moolto, which has developed a decent following so far. If you have a social network your avatar takes part in that you’d like to share, then let us know.

3. Its been two weeks since we launched the Metaverse Reader application for iPhone / iPod Touch and it’s great to be able to say there are now well over a hundred regular users of the app. Enhancements to the application are already underway, so why not give it a try?

4. The latest update to the Second Life Viewer 2 is now available, with a bunch of issues resolved.

5. For the dedicated, this very detailed post on the emergence of Facebook social gaming worlds is well worth the read.

6. Metaverse Health has had a facelift and there’s some exciting health-related stories coming up in the next few weeks. We’ll post most of them here, but if there’s room in your RSS reader, we’d love to have you on board there as well πŸ˜‰

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. The University of Western Australia continues to by the dynamo of Australian Second Life presences, announcing a fourth sim, Virtlantis as well as announcing the February winners of its ongoing 3D Art and Design Challenge. A record 74 entries were submitted for the month. It’s hard to imagine a larger or more dynamic art installation in Second Life.

2. Linden Lab and John Lester (Pathfinder Linden) have parted ways – with lots of discussion ensuing on whether it’s part of a change in tack by Linden Lab in regards to dedicated resources for educators. In less reported news, Linden Lab’s General Manager Enterprise and expat Aussie Chris Collins finished up in February.

3. Got an iPhone or iPod Touch and haven’t noticed our bombardment of info on our new application? Read all about it here.

4. The US Army has announced the finalists in its virtual worlds challenge. It’s another example of the US Government’s fairly hefty commitment to exploring opportunities in virtual environments.

5. Pooky Amsterdam has a more extended machinima or her in-world interview with Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr. The three-plus minute intro could have been cut in half but this is a very interesting piece. A warning: it does contain graphic images of the Holocaust.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

The news and events keep on coming thick and fast:

1. has announced its imminent closure due to funding issues. It’s always sad to see a growing virtual world cease operation, particularly one that offered at least some level of content creation.

Frenzoo are offering lifetime VIP accounts to content creators on All the details here.

2. Two OpenSim grids have started using a virtual currency: the Open Metaverse Currency. More on that in coming days.

3. We still need more people to ask questions of our agony aunt, Second Lie. Here’s a sample of the life-threatening conundrums he’s solved to date.

4. Are you part of a couple or close friendship in a virtual world? Why not be the next subject of our V2 profiles? Just drop us a line if you’re interested. Here’s the first one published back in 2008.

5. The latest issue of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is now out. Guest editors are Australia’s own Mandy Salomon from Smart Services CRC, and France’s Serge Soudoplatoff from ESCP-EAP. The theme is Virtual Economies, Virtual Goods and Service Delivery in Virtual Worlds.

6. Twitter is getting further integration with Second Life. Linden Lab are also looking for people willing to have their RL and SL faces plastered on advertising.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. As mentioned previously, Deakin University’s Jon-Paul Cacioli is conducting a study on body image in virtual worlds. He needs around 300 males to complete the survey, and to date has received over 100 responses. If you have time, please take the survey.

2. If, like me, the idea of a Lego MMO appeals like hell to you, it’s not too late to sign up for the closed beta.

3. Don’t forget our newest Columnist, Second Lie, is waiting for your questions.

4. Edward Castronova has a fascinating post over on Terra Nova covering his evolving thoughts on role-playing, the intrusion of monetary transactions and ‘the magic circle’.

5. 3D world development platform Unity has reached 100 thousand registered developers.

6. Tateru Nino has a great post on intellectual property rights over at Massively.

7. Have you joined the Metaverse Aid team yet?

8. Frenzoo continues its evolution with addition of Facebook Connect for new users (with current users receiving that access soon) and a new ‘mini-machinima’ feature.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. One of Second Life’s most innovative content creators, Ordinal Malaprop, has shuttered his business. Find out why.

2. Forterra have had some business challenges over recent months including laying off staff at the end of 2009. Their OLIVE virtual environment has been bought out by the Science Applications International Corporation. All the details here – this will hopefully be a positive outcome for a virtual environment under somewhat of a cloud.

3. Twinity continues its expansion with a growth in Virtual London: “These areas will include famous buildings and monuments, from the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace to the Millennium Bridge, and the Trocadero. With this, Virtual London, will have grown to the east and south of its present spread, while also marking a foray across the virtual Thames.

4. Virtual World Best Practices in Education 2010: the call for presentations has gone out. Their website contains all the information you need.

5. The University of WA have announced the finalists of their Machinima Challenge. You can read all the details on the excellent UWA in SL blog, but here’s the list of finalists:

The Heart of UWA

UWA Machinima Challenge

University of Western Australia in Second Life

CHANTAL HARVEY, Maastricht, Netherlands
University of Western Australia in Second Life


SOPHIA YATES, Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA
The Challenge – Architecture, Teaching, Research Arts on the UWA sims

IONO ALLEN, Paris, France
Seek Wisdom

GLASZ DECUIR, San Sebastian, Spain
MachinimUWA: UWA in Second Life, Achieving International Excellence


MachinimUWA: Art Architecture, Research, Teaching

NOVA DYSZEL, Toronto, Canada
UWA in SL Challenge

UWA Jan 2010

SOPHIA YATES, Lancaster, Massachusetts, USA
Second Life Virtual University of Western Australia

The winner announcement is coming up on the 8th February at 1pm SL time, with Torley Linden making an appearance.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. Leading Second Life broadcaster Treet TV (formerly SLCN) has expanded its web presence by creating Treet Business. Two new business shows are on the way to complement the current lineup.

The company has certainly come a long way since its 2007 launch. I’m looking forward to appearing on Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe next week to talk about internet filtering.

2. Kzero have some interesting data on the average age of Habbo users by country. Australia is middle of road with an average age of a little over 15 years old. They also have an interesting post on Miss Bimbo, another teen-focused virtual world.

3. A reminder for males aged 18 and over: a Deakin University researcher needs your input for a study on body image in both the real and virtual environment.

4. Linden Lab have employed a Conversation Manager. Wallace Linden has received quite a welcome in the comments on his introductory post, with plenty of discussion on his previous life writing for the Second Life Herald (now Alphaville Herald).

5. Second Life residents are organising a range if fundraising events for the Haiti disaster, with the most comprehensive list found at New World Notes. If any Australians are planning events in any of the platforms around, please let us know and we’ll do what we can to promote it.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. Forterra have fallen upon hard times, laying off around half their workforce, according to an email we’ve received and as reported here. It’s a shame to see any company lose so many employees – her’s hoping Forterra are able to continue their work ongoing.

2. The dynamos at Kzero have updated a couple of their forecast charts. Active virtual worlds users is one of the most interesting ones:

3. A prim has been rezzed at the highest ever altitude in Second Life – here’s the proof.

4. The first machinima to be presented to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been produced by Pooky Amsterdam. It was produced for Alissa Moreno, who performs her song ‘Every Day’. Have a look for yourself:

5. The University of Western Australia’s Second Life activities continue to expand, with a machinima competition announced:

WHAT: MachinimUWA : The UWA Machinima Challenge

WHEN: Submissions are open 18th December 2009 – 31st January 2010
All entries will be displayed on the University of Western Australia (UWA) Second Life Blog.

Winners will be announced during a ceremony in February

WHERE: In front of Winthrop Tower (Main SIM of the UWA presence) & starting point of all Machinima

THEME: Architecture, Teaching, Research & Arts on the UWA sims

Create a Machinima between 2 and 5 minutes in length that captures the 4 main elements thats make up the heart of the University of Western Australia SIMS. These elements are the RL architecture, the teaching, the research and the arts. The purpose would be to show that UWA’s presence in SL is comprehensive and covering all these areas, creating true bridges between SL & RL for prospective students, current students, staff, alumni & the community (this is the snapshot – more details below). Note that there are 3 SIMS making up the UWA presence, namely UWA, Uni of WA & WASP Land, and this challenge covers all 3.

Method of Entry:
* Load the Machinima anywhere, and provide the link to both Jayjay Zifanwe & White Lebed (co-hosts of MachinimUWA)

Closing Date:
* Midnight 31st January 2010 (winners annouced in Mid-Feb 2010)

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

virtualtreeline1. Aussie Second Life resident Juanita Deharo is part of a new art project called Virtual Treeline, with an associated blog.

2. The Chinese government are further expanding their control of virtual worlds, with social games the latest target according to TechCrunch.

3. Earlier this year we covered PIVOTE, which was being used to undertake paramedic training in Second Life. The platform has now won the Times Higher Education award for Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year.

4. Novicraft, a HR and training-focused virtual environment, now has a blog devoted to its further development.

5. Linden Lab have announced that the beta of Linden Homes is open. They’ve also started promoting SL Pro, an in-world conference for content creators coming up in February.

6. This paper on gender roles in MMOs is well worth a read. The abstract:

Several hypotheses regarding the importance of gender and relationships were tested by combining a large survey dataset with unobtrusive behavioral data from 1 year of play. Consistent with expectations, males played for achievement-oriented reasons and were more aggressive, especially within romantic relationships where both partners played. Female players in such relationships had higher general happiness than their male counterparts. Contrary to stereotypes and current hypotheses, it was the female players who played the most. Female players were also healthier than male players or females in the general population. The findings have implications for gender theory and communication-oriented methods in games and online researchβ€”most notably for the use of self-reported time spent, which was systematically incorrect and different by gender.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

copenhagen-sl-sml1. As we’ve covered previously, there’s an enormous amount of activity going on in Second Life. There’s regular presentations as well as streaming of parts of the real-world COP15 event. Here’s where to check it out for yourself.

2. The Australia Council initiative, The Australian Centre of Virtual Art, has put a call-out for artists to participate in its 2010 virtual art lab. There will be a three-day intensive program in Melbourne for up to 10 Australian artists, with the remainder run virtually for the next 6-9 months. ACVA emphasise that: “SL artists are welcome, but we’re encouraging anyone working with networked art to apply”. Here’s where to do so.

3. Twinity has launched virtual London this week. If you have the Twinity application (still Windows only at this stage), you can check out London here.

4. Want some Christmas entertainment with a twist in Second Life?

Does your Christmas look less like Norman Rockwell and more like Norman Bates? Does your family put the “Diss” in “Dysfunctional”? Does your Uncle Fred use the Andy Williams’ Christmas Albums for target practice? Well, welcome home Buckaroo! The actors of the Avatar Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) invite you to “The Real Christmas Story”, starring Y.A.D.F. (your average dysfunctional family). These original Christmas stories will premiere on Friday, December 11, at 5 pm pst at the Dove Theater. Two other performances will be presented on Saturday, December 12 at 3 pm pst, and Sunday, December 13 at 2 pm pst.

Written by three members of the A.R.T., “The Real Christmas Story” presents three views of the pain and pleasure of the holiday season. Sodovan Torok, Kayden Oconnell and Rowan Shamroy have googled their internal computers and found stories that embrace the past, endure the present and anticipate the future. Scrooge may have survived the spirits, but Tiny Tim might need counseling after spending time with these ghosts.

5. Linden Lab have an interesting post on their blog outlining some of the emerging virtual worlds courses available at some universities and colleges.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

uwa-dustydiorama 1. The University of Western Australia’s presence in Second Life continues its dynamism with the ongoing 3D Art & Design Challenge. The picture to the left is an amazing miniature diorama with 15 events going on. It’s something you need to see for yourself to appreciate, so take the time if you have it.

2. Singapore-based are offering those moving to Berlin the option of a pre-arrival tour in Twinity‘s replica:

“From a home or office computer, expats and their families can download a free guide, meet at a personal guided tour and get an idea of the layout of the city, the distances involved and the amenities in the new location before they arrive. With Twinity expats can become acquainted with local networking groups and community meet-ups prior to arrival.”

3. Applications for the 2010 Linden Prize are now open. The US $10000 prize will be awarded to the person who is judged to have done:

– Work in Second Life that also achieves tangible, compelling results outside of Second Life.
– Distinctive, original work using Second Life that clearly demonstrates high quality, execution, function, aesthetics and technical sophistication.
– Work that has the capacity for inspiring and influencing future development, knowledge, creativity, and collaboration both inside and outside of Second Life.

4. Mario Gerosa is putting together a book on virtual worlds memorabilia. If you have something you’d like to share a picture of, you can send it to

Action figures, invitations for exhibitions, books, brochures, press kits, works of art made in real life and inspired by virtual worlds, comics, conference pass, dvd, cd, posters, business cards, etc.

Here are some examples:

– The invitation by Dior for the jewels collections in SL
– The issue of Business Week with Anshe Chung on the cover
– The T shirt made for the anniversari of Parioli in SL
– The World of Warcraft action figures
– A famous avatar business card

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