Federal Virtual Worlds moving beyond Second Life

Several years ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintained more than a dozen virtual environments for online visitors to explore in Second Life. Now it operates just one.

For NOAA and other federal agencies, the focus of virtual world activity has moved beyond Second Life and diversified onto other platforms and gaming engines, according to Eric Hackathorn, a 3D Web designer for NOAA and one of the federal pioneers in virtual worlds.

“Virtual worlds are in need of some rebranding,” Hackathorn told Federal Computer Week. “Historically, virtual worlds were synonymous with Second Life, but that is no longer the case.”

While several agencies, including NOAA, NASA, Defense Department and National Library of Medicine maintain a presence on Second Life, several current initiatives have shifted to open source and in-house platforms and interagency efforts, he said. For example, DOD’s PTSD Experience invites users to learn about post-traumatic stress disorder.

“There is a lot of activity and many different use cases,” Hackathorn said, with initiatives for training, innovation and research in 3D and gaming environments.

The upcoming Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds’ annual conference starting on May 16 will highlight some of those programs.
See on fcw.com

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