The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Emirates Business 24/7 (UAE) – Why your Second Life is more than Lively. “Virtual history has a habit of repeating itself. Not so long ago, hype surrounding the ‘Second Life’ 3D world seized gamers and companies alike. Now the limelight is on Google’s similar offering, Lively. Google’s virtual world was launched less than a fortnight ago, yet already there are scores of reviews and blogs about it. Very few are from the UAE, where the site appears to have been blocked by the local authorities.”

2. Newsweek (USA) – Living a Second Life Online. “We’ve all heard the warnings: addiction, isolation, a waste of time. But some 50 million people log on to online role-playing games like The Sims and Second Life—and many of them never log off. The makers of a new documentary called “Second Skin,” which hits theaters in September, followed seven hard-core gamers to find out why.”

3. GigaOM (USA) – Will Mark Kingdon’s Reign Boost Second Life? “Back in April, ex-Organic CEO Mark Kingdon took the helm of Linden Lab, replacing its charismatic founder, Philip Rosedale, at a time when the company was already struggling in an increasingly competitive market. While Linden claims to be profitable, its market share has plateaued, with scalability and usability woes keeping the number of monthly active users around 550,000 since last summer. Is Second Life still relevant in this far more dynamic playing field, which now includes Lively, an offering from the Internet’s biggest player? I posed that question to Kingdon a few days ago in an extended conversation at the company’s spacious San Francisco headquarters.”

4. TechNewsWorld (USA) – Second Life: A Wide World for Med, Science Students. “Judith Kung Fu may be just one of more than 14 million computer-generated characters in the 3-D virtual world Second Life. But with her help, her creator may one day save your life. In Second Life, Judith has walked through the walls of a human cell. She has, in a flash, conducted complicated science experiments that took the world’s best minds years to complete.”

5. DMNews (USA) – Social strategy is in this fall. “For their back-to-school efforts, a number of multichannel merchants are marrying micro sites with a significant push into social networking. Some marketers see tie-ins with social networking sites, including MySpace and Facebook, as the biggest opportunity to reach teen agers. But it is uncertain whether these efforts will be enough to ignite teen retail spending, which industry experts predict will be down for the rest of the year.”

6. The Industry Standard (USA) – Google trying to stop the inevitable: Cyber-sex in Lively. “Google’s biggest mistake with Lively may not be the Windows-only release, nor the sketchy functionality. Instead, it’s in forgetting (or ignoring) the driving force of the Internet, which, as the Broadway musical Avenue Q explains, is porn. Google introduced Lively as an all-ages 3D chat application. But, as The Guardian noted a mere day after Lively launched, users quickly figured out how to take things as far as they could with adult content. Google tries to police the adult content as much as possible, but a search will quickly yield scores of rooms designed for cybersex of all kinds.”

7. Mediashift Idea Lab (USA) – Virtual Voting: Finding Our Audience Where They Roam. “A Street Team ’08 video by our Connecticut reporter plays at Election HQ in MTV’s Virtual World. One of the main components of Knight and MTV’s big citizen journalism experiment, Street Team ’08, is MOBILE. In our case, the already loaded term has many meanings…our project includes mobile phones, on both the production and distribution sides, and mobile journalists, or those young, carefree reporters-on-the-go with no need for an office, who you keep hearing about.”

8. The Hollywood Reporter – ‘L Word’ virtual world in works. “Showtime has inked a deal with virtual world technology company The Electric Sheep Company to create a standalone Web-based virtual world for drama series “The L Word.” The L Word virtual world, which begins testing next month and formally launches with the debut of the series’ new season in early 2009, will be the first to use Electric Sheep’s new WebFlock, a Flash-based solution that eliminates the lengthy downloads and other technological barriers that have prevented some virtual worlds from attracting the mass market.”

9. The London Free Press (Canada) – A big thumbs up. All three game console makers are officially on the avatar bandwagon, with Microsoft’s revelation that gamers will soon be able to create and customize virtual versions of themselves to mingle online and play games. Microsoft seems to be aiming for something in between Nintendo’s cutesy Mii avatars and Sony’s more realistic and functional Home, which we won’t see until next year. One intriguing aspect of Xbox’s so-called Live Party system is the ability to get together online with friends to share photos, play virtual game shows or even watch movies. It’ll be intriguing to see how (or if) this works when the Xbox Live update hits later this year.”

10. Silicon Valley Insider (USA) – Google’s Lively Is Just Like Second Life — No One’s There But Perverts And Griefers. “We’ve all heard the knock on marketing in Second Life — brands that do it get a splash of PR, but little else. Most brands end up with abandoned virtual storefronts and negative ROI. So last week, when Google (GOOG) introduced “Lively,” its own virtual worlds product we had hopes that it might suceeed where Linden Lab (SAI 25: #11) failed.”

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