The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. TMCnet – realXtend makes a major virtual world technology platform launch. “After the first release 0.1, the realXtend reached now the release 0.2 in only two weeks. The realXtend server side components are now developed in tight co-operation with the OpenSim project. A separate open source project is started for the realXtend viewer. All the latest source codes are available via the projects’ web pages. The realXtend now includes new essential features, such as the free-form 3D avatar system.”

2. The Canadian Press – Do you know where your children are? Probably playing in a virtual world. “Once upon a time, Tinkerbell was known as the magical fairy who helped children fly. Now Disney is summoning the mischievous little sprite from Peter Pan to get kids to go online. In a new virtual world called Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow, girls and boys can become a fairy, dress up, fly around, befriend other fairies and help paint lady bugs, teach baby birds to fly or go on other nature-related quests. It’s packaged as the world of Tinkerbell and her friends, and their work is to make nature happen.”

3. Redline China – 9You Launches Virtual World GTown. “Chinese game company 9You announced the launch of its first virtual world product GTown. Developed in-house by 9You, GTown offers a 3D interactive online community platform. Unlike many other virtual worlds such as Second Life, GTown users can download additional game software packages to play 9You’s existing casual games through the virtual world. The launch of GTown will allow users to allow 9You’s gamers to interact on a uniform platform and use their existing avatars and game accounts to explore the virtual world.”

4. ABC News (USA) – Next Tickle Me Elmo? Fair Showcases Hot Toy Trends. “With the popularity of Club Penguin and Webkinz, other toy makers are trying to tap into the virtual world craze. Here are two virtual worlds that are planning something different from those already playing in the virtual sandbox.”

5. The Guardian (UK) – Our house in cyberspace. “It’s not often you catch a grown man playing with a doll’s house, let alone doing it while pretending to be a little old lady. But this is not your average Barbie residence, and it’s all in the name of research. The adapted PlayMobil house is in fact part of an experimental platform to explore new ways to bridge the gap between virtual and real worlds. A range of sensors and gadgets inside the house allow it to be monitored and controlled through an exact digital replica inside the virtual world Second Life.”

6. – Osama bin Laden’s “Second Life”. “Lately there has been some rather bizarre hype about the potential threat from terrorists in cyberspace. Security specialists have been expressing increasing concern about the potential for mischief with Web 2.0. In particular, during the past six months a spate of newspaper articles have been citing security experts about the alleged danger that terrorists will use virtual worlds for nefarious purposes. Groups such as the U.S. government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity say they fear that terrorists — using virtual personas called “avatars” — will recruit new members online, transfer funds in ways that cannot be traced, and may engage in training exercises that are useful for real-world terrorist operations. They point to existing “terrorist groups” operating on virtual reality sites as an ominous sign.”

7. The Boston Globe – A stick to carry on your virtual outings. “GestureTek is working on a new controller you can shake at your TV screen. It can also put your mug inside virtual worlds. In December, I told you about GestureTek’s Airpoint System, a camera-based tracking system designed for trade show and boardroom presentations. Now, GestureTek hopes its prototype game stick (it does not yet have a working title), will find its way into living rooms and other electronic play spaces.”

8. Adweek – Second Thoughts on Second Life. “When I first stepped into Second Life, I felt like Dorothy stepping out of her crashed house into Oz. I was blown away. The graphics, the architecture, the wild and sexy avatars, the locations to visit, the flying — it was all cool and amazing, and I looked forward to each future visit. “This could be addicting,” I even thought. Fast-forward just a few short weeks and I’m pleased to report that I’m having no worries about the need for SL Addicts Anonymous. ”

9. Mind, Music and Technology – Transcript: Music in Second Life: Past, Present, and Future – February 28th, 2008. “Jade Lily: the topic of this panel is Music in SL, looking at the past, present, and future trends of how folks perform and consume music in second life.”

10. – Second Life’s Top 10 Most Popular Avatar Names. “Ever wondered who’s the John Doe- or foobar if you prefer – of Second Life? That would be Aaron Allen if we look at the Top 10 for most popular names in Second Life.”

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Gamasutra – GDC: Emotiv Knows What You’re Thinking. “On Thursday at the 2008 Game Developers Conference, Julian Wixson and a small panel of associates described and demonstrated the Emotiv headset and SDK, suggesting how a developer might incorporate the technology into a new or even quite finished production. The svelte Emotiv headset uses an array of sixteen EEG sensors to detect electrical impulses in the scalp. These signals are then interpreted by a suite of tools, each with its own range of applications”.

2. Tech.Blorge – The government begins plans to monitor World of Warcraft. “If you’re a die-hard World of Warcraft player, you probably aren’t too concerned about having your online identity known by others; how would you feel if you knew that big brother was monitoring your MMO action? The U.S. government is beginning a program that will monitor the most popular online MMOs so as to identify terrorists online”.

3. – Virtually Divorced From Reality. “It started with World War II games on the computer. He would spend hours flying jets, fighting the Germans. And then his interests changed. “I’d wake up in the middle of the night, and he’d be at the computer looking at women’s pictures,” said Jennifer of her ex-husband. “It was lonely for both of us.” Her ex became far more interested in his fantasy online virtual world, with its endless supply of pornography, than in his real family”.

4. BBC News – Virtuality and reality ‘to merge’. “Computers the size of blood cells will create fully immersive virtual realities by 2033, leading inventor Ray Kurzweil has predicted. Exponential growth in processing power and the shrinking of technology would see the development of microscopic computers, he said”.

5. Information Week – Turning Work Into Play Is No Game. “It sounds like techno-utopian silliness to say that businesses need to learn from online games how to make tedious knowledge-work more enjoyable. But many knowledge-work jobs are so deadly dull that the typical worker lasts just nine months — in call centers, for example. Extend that by a few months, and businesses stand to save piles of money, said Byron Reeves, a professor in the department of communication at Stanford University”.

6. BBC News – Virtual and real blur in Eve Online. “Virtual worlds are becoming increasingly rich and diverse environments with complex social and economic eco-systems. Science fiction trading game Eve Online is one of the most dynamic worlds, with its own economists helping players get to grips with the intricacies”.

7. – Home is “best-looking multiplayer world”. “The creative director of Sony’s Home project has told in an exclusive interview to be published in full next week that he believes the PlayStation 3 virtual world platform is the “best-looking” and most “user-friendly” multiplayer experience he’s seen so far. Talking on a recent trip to Monaco for the Imagina conference, Ron Festejo explained his feeling that other virtual worlds, such as Second Life, were garish, while other online experiences were simply too hardcore for most people”.

8. ZDNet – Solving the Virtual World Interoperability Problem. “Despite the popularity of Second Life, there are in fact several such services on the market today. Enabling interoperabilty between There, Entropia Universe, Moove, Habbo Hotel, and Kaneva could go along way towards promoting the Virtual World industry. IBM researcher Ian Hughes’ excellent post poses the question of what that interoperability might look like”.

9. Mediaweek – Disney Goes Virtual Kids’ ‘Studios’. “Disney has announced the formation of Disney Online Studios, a new division within the Walt Disney Internet Group focused on virtual worlds, gaming and social networking initiatives aimed at kids. The announcement comes as the company’s latest virtual world, the young girl-aimed Disney Fairies Pixie Hollow, was previewed during Toy Fair in New York on Feb. 19”.

10. ZDNet – Is open source giving Second Life a second life?. “Linden Labs, whose Second Life is so cool yet so lacking in profits it’s been lampooned in an IBM ad, sent out an e-mail alert this week boasting that open source is giving the company, well, a second life”.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. CNET – Mitch Kapor: 3D cameras will make virtual worlds easier to use. “Mitch Kapor, like many people, is well aware that virtual worlds are often very difficult to use. The founder of Lotus 1-2-3, who also happens to be the first investor in Second Life publisher Linden Lab and its chairman, spoke at the Metaverse Roadmap meeting here today on the topic of what can be done to make using virtual worlds a better experience”.

2. CNN money – IBM Launches PowerUp, a New Free 3D Multiplayer Virtual Science Game for the Classroom. “IBM (NYSE: IBM) is launching a free multiplayer online game, PowerUp (, challenging teenagers to help save the planet “Helios” from ecological disaster. The game is part of IBM’s TryScience initiative and will be launched at Engineer’s Week 2008 opening on February 16 in Washington, D.C. The game, which can be played alone or together, features a planet in near ecological ruin where three exciting missions for solar, wind and water power must be solved before sandstorms, floods or SmogGobs thwart the rescue”.

3. The Emory Wheel – Emory Conference Discusses New Reality of Virtual Worlds. “With graying hair, a grizzled face and a penchant for bow ties, Benn Konsynski, professor of business administration at Goizueta Business School, doesn’t fit the typical stereotype of an online gamer. But you should never judge a book by its cover: Konsynski takes his games very seriously — and he isn’t the only one. In fact, on Monday, Goizueta was filled with a variety of people from across the nation — academics, businessmen, tech enthusiasts and IT professionals — who all share the belief that gaming is much more than child’s play”.

4. Government – Blogging the Virtual Government.”Not long from now, we will make laws, set policies, write regulations and create programs by first “playing” the likely consequences in synthetic worlds, says Anne Laurent, longtime observer of federal management and creator, just this year, of a new blog, “The Agile Mind.””.

5. Kotaku – Hello Kitty Online Detects No Sarcasm. “Hello Kitty Online hopes to transport its players into a world of sweetness and light. A world without hate. A world without fear. A world, apparently, without a sense of sarcasm. This morning I was pointed towards the main page for Hello Kitty Online, which features a quote I swear I’ve read before”.

6. – The Pitfalls Of Online Role-Playing Games. “How would you change your life if you could simply flip a switch? If you could start it all over again, what would you do differently? Thousands of people are doing just that — in the virtual sense. Byork and Alyssa are young, attractive millionaires — married for less than a year. Byork made his fortune in the stock market and has retired at the ripe old age of 36. Alyssa, a former runway model, met Byork at a local dance club, and three week later, they were engaged”.

7. Terra Nova – Organising Virtual Events. “On the 18th December 2007 Twofour Learning and the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester launched the Second Life Media Zoo project. The Island showcases a range of learning initiatives put forward by the Beyond Distance Research Alliance and is intended as a learning and research platform, aimed at gathering data on social interaction, behaviour and the importance of learning within a virtual 3D environment”.

8. Second Life Herald – Second Life Economy is in a Recession. “After the banking ban, there are commentators who state that the Second Life Economy is in a recession and then there are the opposing commentators that say that the Second Life Economy is not in a recession”.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. The Washington Post – Spies’ Battleground Turns Virtual. “U.S. intelligence officials are cautioning that popular Internet services that enable computer users to adopt cartoon-like personas in three-dimensional online spaces also are creating security vulnerabilities by opening novel ways for terrorists and criminals to move money, organize and conduct corporate espionage”.

2. CNN Money – Pointing The Way To New Web Worlds. “You can sling from one Web to another in business these days. The so-called Web 2.0 technologies that gave birth to consumer blogs, social networks and other ways to offer product advice are weaving their way into the corporate world”.

3. CNET – Teen virtual world goes Hollywood. “Habbo, a virtual world for teens, signed a deal with the William Morris Agency, one of Hollywood’s oldest and largest talent agencies. As part of the deal, WMA will promote its celebrity sports and entertainment clients within the digital world and help Habbo forge new promotional partnerships in Hollywood”.

4. ClickZ – MinyanLand Virtual World Aims to Teach Kids Finance. “Teaching kids financial responsibility can be fun and advertisers should come along for the ride, say the creators of MinyanLand, a virtual world for kids. Launched January 30, MinyanLand is the result of the National Council on Economic Education, financial infotainment company Minyanville and family site network Kaboose, coming together to try and educate children in grades three to six about the importance of financial responsibility and thrifty spending. Unlike several other virtual worlds targeting the kids market, including Disney’s Club Penguin, Minyanland does not require a subscription fee to participate, according to Kevin Wassong, president of Minyanville”.

5. ABC Science (Australia) – Bionic lens spies virtual world. “Engineers say they have combined a flexible contact lens with an imprinted electronic circuit and lights for the first time. The ‘bionic’ lens could give wearers a new look at the world by superimposing computerised images onto their natural view. Such virtual displays could be useful to drivers and pilots, who could have route, weather or vehicle status information overlaid onto their vision. Video game players could immerse themselves in a virtual world without restricting their range of motion”.

6. CNN – For online addicts, relationships float between real, virtual worlds. “Think of online video game addiction and what probably comes to mind is a socially awkward adolescent. But teens are not the only ones who get addicted. Consider Zach Elliott, who lives in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, is in his mid-40s, and plays Final Fantasy XI, an online role-playing game. About three years ago, he says, “there were people in my real life that sort of vanished into this game, and I followed them into it””.

7. FOX Business – Multiverse Unveils Virtual Times Square. “The Multiverse Network, Inc., the company building the leading network of 3D virtual worlds, today unveiled Virtual Times Square, a true-to-life digital recreation of one of the world’s most famous metropolitan environments”.

8. – Companies Explore Virtual Worlds As Collaboration Tools. “For emergency responders working along Interstate 95, accidents aren’t a game; they’re a way of life (and death). So it seemed odd to a group of firefighters, cops and medics when researchers from the University of Maryland suggested it use a virtual world to collaborate on training for rollovers, multicar pileups and life-threatening injuries”.

9. – View to a Kill: Training in Virtual Worlds. “Learning and training are likely to be the ‘killer application’ for computer-generated 3D worlds such as Second Life, delegates heard at the Learning Technologies event in London last week. Capgemini consultant Marco Tippmer made the claim during a session on the hype and realities of the latest training technology. We have been here before, he admitted, during the ‘virtual reality 1.0’ bust in the early 1990s, when lack of sufficient computing power undermined expectations surrounding touch-sensitive gloves and immersive 3D headsets”.

10. ZDNet UK – Nortel: Virtual worlds may replace the office. “Nortel Networks is looking to the next generation of employees to shape the workplace of tomorrow, and high on its agenda is exploring the role of Web 2.0 technologies and virtual worlds such as Linden Lab’s Second Life”.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Atlanta Journal-Constitution – Virtually a reality: Kaneva brings 850,000 people online. “The nightclub throbs with techno pop, with dancers grooving to the beat. One performs a back flip, while “Foxy Bobo” points up and slips to the floor in a heap. “Dragonya” and “Jessikins,” two curvy females in matching tartan miniskirts, dance together in a slow grind. It’s Friday night at “Club Kaneva,” a virtual world where digital alter egos called avatars meet to dance, socialize, watch videos or even shop”.

2. Reuters – Paramount plants promo flag in virtual world Habbo. “Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment and Habbo, the teen-centric virtual world, have inked a deal to create and merchandize virtual goods based on at least three of the studio’s films”.

3. St Louis Post-Dispatch – Disney makes a virtual play for children. “Walt Disney Co. is no stranger to fantasy worlds, transporting audiences — whether to a cottage in the woods with a young princess in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” or to the Great Barrier Reef aboard the Finding Nemo Submarine ride at Disneyland. Now, Disney is spinning its tales in the newest mass medium — online virtual worlds, where children adopt cartoonish avatars and play games”.

4. Computing – Virtual skills for the real world. “Virtual world environments such as Second Life have immense potential, providing a shared and interactive space where groups of people can meet and work together in real time, regardless of their physical location. The graphical interface and three-dimensional platform of virtual environments allows people to interact easily and cost-effectively in a form that might be expensive or even risky in the real world. Almost anything is possible, provided you have the funds, imagination and the technical expertise”.

5. Showbiz Spy – Couple who fell in love in virtual world to wed in real life. “Trapped in a loveless marriage with a controlling husband, Kristen Birkin found herself seeking comfort in an online virtual world. When the 33-year-old realized she hadn’t been on a night out with friends for more than a decade she found another way to escape”.

6. CNN Money – Makena Technologies Helps Create New Virtual Skatepark in MTV Networks’ Virtual Worlds. “Makena Technologies, creator of the popular social virtual world, and MTV Networks today announced the unveiling of a new Virtual Skatepark inside MTV Networks’ virtual worlds tied to MTV’s two popular on-air shows, “Rob and Big” and “Life of Ryan.” Makena provides the exclusive technology platform for MTV’s franchise-related virtual worlds, including the Emmy-winning Virtual Laguna Beach, Virtual Hills, Virtual Real World and Virtual VMAs, among others”.

7. – Lesbian Gaming: ‘The L Word’ in Second Life. “Ever dreamed of living in The L Word? Well, now you can—virtually at least—with Showtime’s The L Word in Second Life. For those unfamiliar with the game, Second Life is a huge, interactive online world populated by hundreds of thousands of people who spend ludicrious amounts of time and money living, well, a virtual second life. Unlike many online game worlds, Second Life is for the most part very much like the real world—only more glamourous and fantasy-filled. Much like The L Word itself if you think about it”.

8. CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) – Second Gaza: Time’s Tim McGirk Creates a Virtual Reality. “The popular virtual reality video game Second Life is described as a “3D online digital world imagined and created by its residents.” Perhaps, then, the version of the Gaza Strip imagined and described by journalist Tim McGirk in the Feb. 4, 2008 issue of Time magazine should be called Second Gaza; because even though readers are left to believe McGirk’s short piece, entitled “World Spotlight: The Gaza Siege Breaks,” is about the real Gaza Strip, the article paints a picture that only superficially resembles reality”.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Wired – Virtual World Griefing Reaches New Heights. “This month’s issue of Wired contains an impressively in-depth article on the griefing exploits of the Something Awful Goonsquad. Most famously, the Goonsquad was responsible for interrupting 2006’s CNet interview with Second Life pseudo-celebrity Anshe Chung via airborne flocks of oversized penises”.

2. The Christian Science Monitor – Can Web-Based Worlds Teach Us About The Real One? “With last week’s stock market sputter and re newed warnings of a recession, policymakers and presidential candidates are hawking countless plans to jump-start the economy. These proposals are often complex, sometimes controversial, and almost always conjectural”.

3. The World Next Week – Virtual world: rogue state? “There are quirkier items on the agenda than stock market sturm und drang and terrorism at the 38th annual World Economic Forum in Davos. On Saturday, one of the presentations, ‘Virtual Worlds – Fiction or Reality’, muses on the impact of virtual worlds on different generations, and asks how this world of immediate access, limitless social skills and unrestrained behaviour influence our moral framework”.

4. PC World – Starting Your Business’ Second Life. “If you’ve got a product that’s hard to show off in person or your customer demographic skews thirtysomething, start thinking in 3-D. While skeptics write off virtual worlds on the web as arcades for young folk, research firm Gartner Inc. estimates that by 2011, 80 percent of active internet users will have an identity in a virtual web world”.

5. The Independent – Cyberclinic: Virtual Populations. “The number of people actively exploring an alternate existence in a virtual world just keeps on growing. With last year’s release of The Burning Crusade – an expansion pack for the online role playing game World Of Warcraft – the number of current users of the game has just topped 10 million; in terms of population, that puts World Of Warcraft somewhere between Serbia and Hungary. The makers of the game also stress that these figures exclude all free promo subscriptions and dormant users.

6. Science Daily – Haptics: New Software Allows User To Reach Out And Touch, Virtually. “European researchers have pioneered a breakthrough interface that allows people to touch, stretch and pull virtual fabrics that feel like the real thing. The new multi-modal software linked to tactile hardware and haptics devices have enormous potential for shopping, design and human-machine interaction”.

7. Computerworld – Vision of the future: Researchers build bionic eye. “Nanotech could let travelers check Net, e-mail or play games on floating display screen”.

8. Information Week – Linden Lab Working To Beef Up Second Life Stability, Usability. “Linden Lab plans sweeping improvements to the Second Life platform this quarter, designed to improve stability and usability, and to make it easier to connect Second Life with the rest of the Internet”. (see our own story on Linden Lab’s media conference.

9. Jalopnik – Lancia to Launch Car in Second Life, Before First Life. “Hey Lancia, welcome to 2006! It’s good to see you finally decided to approach and embrace Second Life, the virtual world game thing. The Italian Fiat subsidiary will be launching the Delta sedan in Second Life one day prior to its official unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show”.

10. – Second Life has potential for public sector, says analyst. “Governments have been taking tentative steps towards establishing a presence in the virtual world. And while the business case may yet to be proven, there is potential for the public sector to utilize virtual applications such as Second Life, says analyst Alison Brooks”.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Reuters – Cell phones and virtual worlds morphing shopper ways. “Virtual worlds, mobile coupons and bar-code readers on cell phones are the next technology wave that U.S. chain stores must ride if they hope to stay competitive in the fast-changing world of global retail”.

2. The Bulletin Online – Public health lessons from virtual game worlds. “It’s challenging to model disease spread during epidemics. Simple mathematical models such as the “general epidemic” model make assumptions about constant population size, homogeneous mixing, and constant recovery rates, but can only go so far in predicting an outbreak’s severity”.

3. Tech News World – Virtual World Workforce, Part 1: Promising the World. “It’s a dream scenario: A candidate aspiring to a pivotal job in the culinary arts field enters the virtual world Second Life, having never been an online gamer before. He attends an online job fair held by recruiting company TMP Worldwide and is interviewed by major food and operations services company Sodexho. As a result, he lands a job as an executive chef with the firm”.

4. BBC News – NASA investigates virtual space. “The US space agency is exploring the possibility of developing a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. The virtual world would be aimed at students and would ‘simulate real NASA engineering and science missions’ “.

5. San Jose Mercury News – New passage to Gaia. “In a sign that social networks and virtual worlds are beginning to meld, Gaia Online, the popular virtual playground for teens, will announce Tuesday a connection to its site from inside social network Facebook”.

6. ABC News (USA) – Asperger’s Therapy Hits Second Life. “Texas researchers believe that people suffering from Asperger’s syndrome — a cognitive disorder often referred to as high-functioning autism — may have found a new therapy in an unlikely place: the online virtual world Second Life”.

7. New World Notes – Second Life Grows Beyond Its Map. “Click the image on the left: this is the world of Second Life’s grid as it exists now– 26.5 million acres*, with three major land masses to the Southeast, surrounded by a veritable galaxy of disparate islands.”

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Sydney Morning Herald – Virtual world cracks down on cowboy banks. “There’s a banking meltdown in Second Life, too. It seems even this escapist virtual world whose inhabitants fly around and dress up as angels or animals can’t escape the global financial crisis”.

2. Computerworld – Virtual worlds will soon be as important as Web to companies. “While virtual worlds like Second Life have come under fire for failing to provide enough value to businesses with established storefront operations, a new Forrester Research Inc. report argues that the 3-D Internet will be as important to companies in five years as the Web is today”.

3. Linux Insider – Cybersex and the Married Man. “Players of EverQuest can get so tangled in their fantasy worlds that the affairs mimic those in soap operas. Here’s an example from a post on EverQuest Widows, an online support group on Yahoo for partners of obsessed gamers. “A couple of months ago my hubby told me about a lady he was engaged to in the game. He broke it off with her when she wanted him to leave me and come marry her in real life” “.

4. Computerworld – CES: IBM, Emotiv show advances in virtual reality worlds. “Hundreds of products at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) here are devoted to new ways to input data to a PC or gaming console, including a variety of inputs via voice commands or gestures that are registered via video detection. But another way demonstrated at CES is the ability to wirelessly transmit the brain’s electronic signals, including emotions and cognitions, from sensors on a person’s head to a PC.”

5. C Scout – Update: Social Virtual Worlds for Tweens. “Social Networking Sites for the very young let kid connect through virtual pets. We already reported about some of the new stuffed animals and collectible toy figures which come with access codes for online games (Please read our trend posting Real Toys – Virtual Games). Other social virtual world for tweens exist just online and reward children for spending time on the certain website with virtual money (or points) which can be redeemed in items for the virtual pets”.

6. – Smarter games, dumber children. “CHILDREN should be banned from playing computer games until the age of seven because the technology is “rewiring” their brains, it has been claimed. Bombardment of the senses with fast-pace action games is said to be causing a shortening of attention span, harming the ability to learn”.

7. The Chronicle of Higher Education – Virtual Worlds Turn Therapeutic for Autistic Disorders (subscription required). “The 19-year-old woman glares at her computer screen, furious because her roommate wants a friend to move in with them, rent-free. But instead of calmly asserting herself, she begins yelling, and her virtual world is put on pause”.

8. MSNBC – Q&A with Anshe Chung, virtual philanthropist. “Contribute’s Janet Rae-Dupree created a digital “self” — an avatar called Scoop Raymaker — to enable her to explore Second Life and interview its first philanthropist, virtual real estate tycoon Anshe Chung”.

9. Associated Press – Ancient Roman Road Gets Virtual Life. “A museum on Tuesday unveiled a virtual reconstruction of one of the bustling arteries that led into ancient Rome, allowing visitors to wander through rebuilt monuments and interact with the city’s political elite. Using a concept similar to that of online virtual worlds, the project creates characters, or avatars, that roam the ancient Via Flaminia, exploring funerary monuments that lined the road, bridges and arches. They can also roam through the villa belonging to Livia, wife of Rome’s first emperor, Augustus”.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Sydney Morning Herald – Watch and learn. “Buoyed by the popularity of Second Life and the site’s incentives for the not-for-profit sector, conventional educational institutions are building in-world campuses to enhance their on-campus teaching”.

2. Turkish Daily News – Turkish companies will rise on Second Life in 2008. “Turkish companies begin to show interest in the Internet portal Second Life, where international giants like IBM, Microsoft, Adidas, Sony and Intel are prevalent. Vestel took the first step into the world of Second Life and was followed by Remax, Rixos, Garanti Emeklilik and Tefken”.

3. – NASA Dreams of an Interplanetary ‘Second Life’ for Mars Crew. “When NASA begins launching astronaut teams on 800-day missions to Mars, one of the greatest survival tests these explorers will face is the inevitable alienation they’ll experience with their remoteness from Earth and the harshness of the frozen Red Planet”.

4. The Daily Mail – A world strip of humanity – inside the virtual reality websites where you can live out your wildest (and darkest) fantasies. “The great joy of childhood is unfettered imagination – it is the best toy in the world. And then we grow up. The real world intrudes with all its limitations and barriers. We get on with life, accept our mostly humdrum, routine existence and make the best of it. But what’s this? Tens of millions of people in this country and around the world appear to have reverted to childhood. They spend extraordinary amounts of their time inhabiting an imaginary world.”

5. The Guardian – How Tim Schafer aims to rock the virtual world. “It’s been almost a year and a half since Technology Guardian spoke to Tim Schafer about his then-untitled upcoming game at DoubleFine Productions. Only recently has he revealed it to gamers, after a lengthy (and silent) development cycle. The result is typically Schaferesque – eccentric, hilarious, and deeply rooted in nostalgia”.

6. Slashdot – Scientist Suggests We Explore ‘Universe is a VR Simulation’ Theory. “A New Zealand physicist has written a paper saying that physicists should seriously explore the possibility the universe is a giant virtual reality simulation”.

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

We’re starting a new weekly feature on TMJ – The Watch. It’s a roundup of 5-10 stories on virtual worlds appearing in the news over the past week. This will occur each Monday and any feedback welcome. Here’s the first week’s roundup:

1. New York Times – Web Playgrounds of the Very Young. “Forget Second Life. The real virtual world gold rush centers on the grammar-school set.”

2. FindLaw – Are Virtual-World Bank Robbery, Pickpocketing, and Runs on Banks Covered by Real-World Laws? “In answering the question whether virtual bank robbery is a real-world crime, the first important point is that it should be.”

3. The Times of India – Sex in a virtual world. “Let’s talk about sex. Oh, that’s taboo? Then, let’s talk about cybersex”.

4. Seeking Alpha – Giant Interactive: A Primer in Virtual Currency. “While Economics can be a very complex discipline, the fundamentals often boil down to one very basic truth: “Price is the natural equilibrium between supply and demand.” Price is usually denominated in a particular currency – such as the US Dollar, Japanese Yen, or even precious metals such as gold. But what happens when the currency is virtual, such as in a role playing game with “virtual” goods and services and no physical “real world” transactions taking place. Do the laws of supply and demand still apply?”

5. The Age – Networking in the virtual world. “Online social networking websites saw their ranks swell and values soar this year as everyone from moody teenagers and mellow music lovers to mate-seeking seniors joined online communities.”

6. ClickZ – Virtual World Marketing Gets Reality Check in 2007. “It was a year of ups and downs for virtual worlds, as well as the companies that jumped on the bandwagon of creating virtual advertising and branded worlds. As 2007 began, the virtual world environment Second Life was riding high on a wave of interest from users and advertisers, but as time went on, many marketers and agencies began to question the return on investment of their virtual projects.”

7. ZD Net – IBM cooks up internal virtual world for confidentiality, security. “IBM has created its own internal virtual world called Metaverse for corporate meetings and collaboration. Why not use Second Life? “If you really want to make most of these (virtual world) meetings it has to be confidential,” said IBM CIO Mark Hennessey.”

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