The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. International Herald Tribune (France) – Ikea and EA strike real deal in virtual world. “Last week, Electronic Arts, the video game publisher, announced an agreement with Ikea in which its furniture would be featured in “The Sims,” a series of games that allows players to simulate the actions of a fictional family. For around $20, players will be able to buy a “stuff pack” that will let them fill out their Sims abodes with Ikea designs.”

2. ZDNet – Nortel Demos Virtual World Platform. “Nortel demoed a virtual world prototype here in a Ottowa at a day long event. Dubbed Web Alive, the virtual world is the first project to come out of Nortel new research effort that imposes a VC-like model for funding research. Like other virtual worlds, Web Alive allows avatars to interact with one another in a virtual landscape. Web Alive differentiates itself through the use of proximity based voice and a thin client.”

3. Times Online (UK) – The latest trend in medicine – virtual reality. “Imagine the scenario: you’re sitting on a plane, strapped in and ready for take-off. But you’re terrified of flying and are suddenly hit by an uncontrollable urge to spring from your seat and run screaming out of the aircraft.”

4. Information Week – Most Business-Launched Virtual Worlds Fail, Gartner Says. “The vast majority of virtual world projects launched by businesses fail within 18 months, but the impact of the collaborationtechnology on organizations could eventually be as big as the Internet, a market research firm said this week. Fully 90% of business forays into virtual worlds fail because organizations focus on the technology rather than on understanding the needs of the employees using it, Gartner said.”

5. Magical Mountain – Disney Interactive Studios Launch Virtual World For Nintendo DS. “On Thursday, May 15th, 2008, Disney Interactive Studios formally released DGamer, an avatar based community for Nintendo DS owners. It is a free service offered to US residents. “DGamer is our opportunity to work with Disney Interactive to make sure we have this connected environment and to make sure we reach our guests wherever they are, including a player on a Disney Interactive DS title talking to a player in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean Online”, says Paul Yanover, executive vice president and managing director of Disney Online.”

6. – Virtual world disputes landing in real-world courts. “Some very real money was on the line when a Pennsylvania lawyer recently sued a San Francisco-based company over a online property deal that went sour. The real estate at the centre of the dispute was entirely imaginary. The lawyer, Marc Bragg, was seeking thousands in damages for breach of contract and unfair trade practices after he purchased virtual property in Second Life, a 3-D world that exists only online. And when owner Linden Lab terminated his account, he sued. The dispute was eventually settled out of court in a confidential agreement.”

7. – ‘Virtual Law’: It’s Not Your Father’s Law. “”Virtual law,” as specialists call it, is not your father’s law. And according to some aspiring lawyers, it is the next big thing. Of the 50 or so tech-savvy lawyers around the country conversant in the language of orcs, avatars and toons, Brian Pyne, 23, says, “They all know each other. I’m trying to become one of them.”

8. (USA) – Welcome to the World of Warcraft! “It’s one of the hottest video games worldwide. Some might even call it, an addiction. Welcome to the World of Warcraft! It’s not a secret society, but if you enter it, you may not want to leave. Jonathan Weiss said, “It’s like digital crack, pretty much.” Mark Preston: “It really is addicting. If you start playing, you’ll be hooked.”

9. Wall Street Journal – My Virtual Summer Job. “While his friends scramble for jobs flipping burgers or bagging groceries this summer, 18-year-old Mike Everest will be working as a trader in the fantasy Web world of Entropia Universe, buying and selling virtual animal skins and weapons. His goods exist only online, but his earnings are real. In the past four years, he’s made $35,000. Mr. Everest, of Durango, Colo., is among a new breed of young entrepreneurs seeking their fortune online in imaginary worlds.”

10. Foreign Policy – Fake China. “China is about to re-create itself on a massive scale. This July, the Beijing Cyber Recreation District (CRD), a state-owned enterprise, will launch the first of several “virtual Chinas” planned for popular online realms known as massive multiplayer online role-playing games. The first “virtual China,” which they call “Dotman,” will be found inside Entropia Universe, a 700,000-player gaming world run by the Swedish technology firm Mindark. Capable of hosting 150 million avatars, or virtual citizens, it will be the largest virtual nation in the world.”

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