Roundup from FCVW 2012

The Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds’ 2012 shindig wrapped up on the 18th May, and (via Hypergrid Business) I came across a great roundup from an attendee.

Here’s a taste:


One of the other two workshops I attended focused on developing online training using learning concepts of Robert M. Gagne. And the other was a three-hour introduction into the use of Unity3D. Unity3D was a hot topic throughout the conference so I expect to see even more learning environments developed with that platform in the future. And it seems there is some promise in the future of development tools being created for Unity3D that will make it even easier to build and link to existing data. As for the workshop, it was well attended, and the presenters – Eric Hackathorn and Julien Lynge – did such a great job the time flew by so fast. Eric and Julien, along with Eric’s father, Richard, are all awesome innovators who you definitely want to keep an eye on if you are looking for inspiration. You can check out their work through Fragile Earth Studios, a project of NOAA.

Go read the lot for yourself

SLACTIONS 2012: Call for Papers

Research conference on virtual worlds – Life, imagination, and work using
metaverse platforms

November 2012


The metaverse is emerging, through the increasing use of virtual world
technologies that act as platforms for end-users to create, develop, and
interact, expanding the realm of human cooperation, interaction, and
creativity. The conference focus is scientific research on applications and
developments of these metaverse platforms: Habbo Hotel, IMVU, Second Life,
OpenSimulator, Open Croquet, Activeworlds, Open Wonderland, Minecraft, and
others, including MMORPGs such as World of Warcraft, and virtual worlds
based on social networks, such as *-ville and others, providing a forum for
the research community to present and discuss innovative approaches,
techniques, processes, and research results.

SLACTIONS 2012 is the fourth edition of SLACTIONS, which was the first
international conference held simultaneously in several countries on the
topic of metaverse platforms. SLACTIONS aims at covering most areas
currently enabled by metaverse platforms, from educational research to
content production, from gender studies to media distribution, and from
metaverse-based branding, advertising, and fundraising to emerging mash-ups
and technology applications.
SLACTIONS is unique in its format too, as a one-of-a kind event conducted
both in a metaverse platform (Second Life) and on-site in multiple countries
throughout the world. SLACTIONS will thus contribute to the current
redefinition of the way we think about hybrid online and on-site scholarly

Whereas metaverse platforms are no longer a novel topic, they still pose
challenges for the adaption of conventional instructional and business
practices, research methodologies, and communication practices. We are
looking forward to presenting a program of research results, case studies,
panel discussions, and demonstrations that scholars, educators, and
businesses can port to their own environments and apply in their research,
teaching, and business strategy. We will accept papers from the full
spectrum of intellectual disciplines and technological endeavors in which
metaverse platforms are currently being used: from Education to Business,
Sociology to Social Sciences, Media Production to Technology Development,
Architecture and Urban Planning to the Arts.

Topics covered may include but are not limited to:

– Accessibility in metaverse platforms
– Advanced scientific visualization in metaverse platforms
– Automatic content generation
– Behavioral studies in the metaverse
– Combination of metaverse platforms with external systems (e-
learning, e-business, etc.)
– Communicational paradigms in the metaverse
– Content management and production
– Creativity, design, and arts on the metaverse
– E-business and e-commerce applications
– Educational research, applications, and case studies
– Embodiment in metaverses and Gender Studies
– GIS/metaverse mash-ups
– Integration between metaverse platforms
– Nonprofit activities and fundraising
– Adapting and developing research methodologies for metaverses
– Social Sciences studies in or through metaverse platforms
– Space representation, use, and management in metaverses
– Using metaverse platforms for cooperation


SLACTIONS has the format of a hybrid online and physical conference.
All paper presentations and plenary sessions by guest speakers will be held
on-line in the Second Life virtual world, and projected locally at local
chapters, for participants attending physically. Physical participants can
interact with the online participants via a “physical chapter avatar” and
Participants will also be able to follow the proceedings broadcast on the
Web and interact via a text chat applet.
Workshops and other events are conducted locally – or in mixed format across
several participating chapters – and local chapters may held local topical
round tables.


Authors are invited to submit:
– A full paper of eight to ten pages for oral presentation
– A “work in progress” paper of 4 pages for oral presentation
– A Flickr image or YouTube video, indexed with the tag
“slactions2012” for poster presentations ‘in-world’
– A live presentation in Second Life.

All submissions are subject to a double blind review process and should be
professionally proofread before submission. All manuscripts should be
formatted according to the ASIS&T proceedings template, available at
(Disclaimer: SLACTIONS is not associated with ASIS&T.)


All accepted papers and posters will be published on-line and in ISBN-
registered digital proceedings. Video posters and live presentations can
submit an abstract for inclusion in the digital proceedings.

The authors of the best papers will be invited to provide revised and
expanded versions for publications in special editions of journals or as
single contributions to theme-specific journals.

– Journal of Virtual Worlds Research
(ISSN 1941-8477)
Selected papers will be fast-tracked for publication in early 2013
issues of JVWR.

– Computer & Graphics – International Journal of Systems &
Applications in Computer Graphics
(ISSN: 0097-8493 / Imprint: ELSEVIER / impact factor 2010:0.720)
Authors of the Best Paper in computer graphics themes will be
invited to submit an extended version to be considered for journal

– VIRtual – Electronic Journal of Visualization, Interactive Systems
and Pattern Recognition
(ISSN 0873-1837)
Authors of selected papers on visualization and graphics will be
invited to submit extended versions to a special Issue of the journal.

– Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research
(ISSN 0718-1876)
Authors of selected papers on
e-business/e-commerce/m-commerce/e-learning/e-government will be invited to
submit extended versions the journal.

– International Journal of Web Portals
(ISSN 1938-0194, SCOPUS index)
Authors of the Best Paper in Web portals themes will be invited to
submit an extended version to be considered for journal publication.

Check out regularly for more information and developments
on the proceedings publisher and journal venues for best papers.

Official language of the conference:
The official language for the on-line space and all submissions is English
only. However, at the physical site of local chapters you can also use the
native language of that location.


Submissions deadline: June 30th, 2012
July 15th, 2012 – Submission results provided to authors
September 15th, 2012 – Deadline for early registration
October 15th, 2012 – Deadline for print-ready versions of accepted papers
November 15-17th, 2012 – Conference



Tagus Park, Oeiras, Portugal

About the Tagus Park:

António Quintas-Mendes []
Lina Morgado []
Isabel Valverde []

New Zealand

Wellington Institute of Technology, New Zealand

About the Wellington Institute of Technology:

Todd Cochrane []


Central Florida – Orlando/Space Coast area

About the 1 Virtual World Development:

Gwenette Sinclair []


Rome – in preparation, more data soon



In preparation, more data soon


In preparation, more data soon


In preparation, more data soon


In preparation, more data soon

Check out for updated lists and contacts.

Note: If you believe your institution can hold a physical chapter in an
as-yet unsupported region, please contact the organization at

Steering Committee
Leonel Morgado – University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal
Nelson Zagalo – University of Minho, Portugal
Ana Boa-Ventura, University of Texas-Austin, USA

Programme Committee

Ahmer Iqbal – University of Jyvaskyla, Finland Ana Amélia Carvalho –
University of Coimbra, Portugal Ana Boa-Ventura – University of Texas,
Austin, USA Ângela Pereira – Leiria Polytechnic Institute, Portugal António
Fernando Coelho – University of Porto, Portugal António Lopes – Lusófona
University, Portugal António Quintas Mendes – Open University, Portugal
Benjamim Fonseca – University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Clare
Atkins – Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, New Zealand Daiana
Trein – University of Vale do Rio dos Sinos, Brazil Daniel Gonçalves –
Higher Technical Institute, Portugal David Deeds – Changchun American
International School, China David Herold – Hong Kong Polytechnic University,
Hong Kong Donizetti Louro – Catholic University of Sao Paulo, Brazil Emanuel
Peres – University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Filipe Santos –
Leiria Polytechnic Institute, Portugal Greg Lastowka – Rutgers School of Law
/ Camden, USA Helen Farley – University of Southern Queensland, Australia
Hugo Paredes – University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Isabel
Valverde – Lisbon Technical University, Portugal James Corbett – CEO at
MissionV Education/ Business Development Manager at Daynuv Owner at
GlobalGreyhounds Ltd., Ireland João Varajão – University of Trás-os-Montes e
Alto Douro, Portugal José Luís Ramos – Évora University, Portugal Leonel
Morgado – University of Trás-os- Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Lina Morgado
– Open University, Portugal Luís Magalhães – University of Trás-os-Montes e
Alto Douro, Portugal Luís Pedro – University of Aveiro, Portugal Marco
António Chávez- Aguayo – University of Barcelona, Spain Margarita
Pérez-García – Catholic University College Limburg & Provincial University
College Limburg, Belgium Marja Kankaanranta – University of Jyvaskyla,
Finland Micaela Esteves – Leiria Polytechnic Institute, Portugal Narciso
Cerpa – University of Talca, Chile Nelson Zagalo – University of Minho,
Portugal Nuno Silva – Higher Institute of Engineering of Porto, Portugal
Paulo Frias – University of Porto, Portugal Paulo Martins – University of
Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Pedro Sequeira – Higher School of
Sport of Rio Maior, Portugal Pilar Lacasa – University of Alcalá, Spain
Ramiro Gonçalves – University of Trás-os- Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Sara
de Freitas – Serious Games Institute, UK Steven Warburton – King’s College
London, United Kingdom Teresa Bettencourt – University of Aveiro, Portugal
Theng Yin Leng – Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Vincent Ng –
Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong Yesha Sivan – The Academic
College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Israel, and Metaverse Labs Ltd., Israel/Managing
Editor of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research

Global Organization

Ana Margarida Maia – University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal
Daniela Pedrosa – University of Coimbra / University of Trás-
os- Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Fernando José Cassola Marques – University
of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Gonçalo Cruz Matos – University of
Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Maria da Glória Fraga – University of
Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Leonel Morgado – University of
Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Ricardo Rodrigues Nunes – University
of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Vinicius Loureiro – University of
Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro, Portugal Yesha Sivan – The Academic College of
Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Israel, and Metaverse Labs Ltd., Israel/Managing Editor of
the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research



Frenzoo gets more funding for Me Girl

We’ve been following Frenzoo since 2009, and over that time the company has shifted very squarely into the mobile market.

This week they’ve raised another $1 million of venture capital to primarily develop its ‘Me Girl’ 3D fashion applications (here’s a link to our 2010 story on the 3D fashion move Frenzoo made)

The full press release reproduced for you below. Congrats to CEO (and expat Aussie) Simon Newstead and the team for their ongoing success – it’s no mean feat to keep the momentum going in the application space and they’ve managed it over a significant period of time.

Frenzoo Raises $1 Million to Create 3D Lifestyle Mobile Games for Women 
Major investors include Efficient Corporate, Siemer Ventures, K5 Ventures and Metaverse Services

Hong Kong and San Francisco, CA – May 10, 2012 – Frenzoo ( the pioneers of a new class of 3D lifestyle and fashion mobile games, today announced it has received US $1 million in new seed funding from investors based in Asia, Europe and the United States.

Investors include: Efficient Corporate, the investment vehicle of Hong Kong-based angel investor Tytus Michalski; Siemer Ventures, an early-stage, cross-border venture firm with offices in Los Angeles and Asia; K5 Ventures, a pan Europe- and Asia-based group focused on media and commerce; and Metaverse Services, a China-based leader in game content creation. They join existing investor Ambient Sound Investments, an early stage venture firm backed by the founding engineers of Skype.

In addition, joining the Frenzoo board of directors is Doug Glen, a veteran gaming and entertainment executive whose previous roles include Chief Strategy Officer of Mattel; CEO of Imagi Studios; and Director at Harmonix, the creators of Dance Central and Rock Band. Also joiningFrenzoo as an advisor is fashion stylist and blogger Jasmine Webster. Founder of the popular DressMe blog, Webster has been nominated as a “Marie Claire Fashion Blogger of the Year” and selected as the “Style Judge” of Fashion One TV’s soon-to-air “Correspondent Search.”

Frenzoo will use the funds to accelerate the launch of its Me Girl brand of titles ( that offer lifestyle and fashion mobile games for all ages. Data from mobile analytics firm Flurry shows that women make up a majority of the mobile social gaming audience. The Me Girl titles aim to be the first 3D games crafted specifically for this market.

“We believe there is a tremendous opportunity to combine the best of mobile gaming with the world of fashion and lifestyle,” said Frenzoo CEO & Co-founder Simon Newstead. “Our goal with Me Girl is to leverage glamour and emotional appeal to create fun, accessible gaming experiences. With our innovative 3D platform, we can create interactive characters with natural movements and expressions that really bring the whole story to life.”

“In the mid-1990s, Mattel pioneered computer entertainment for girls,” said Doug Glen, who currently serves as Entrepreneur in Residence at M-Lab, a technology incubator.  “Games like Barbie Fashion Designer were hugely successful, in part because the market was so underserved. Fifteen years later, the girls’ and women’s market in mobile entertainment is now underserved, and Frenzoo is releasing wonderful games that have raised the bar to an exciting new level.”

Added Tytus Michalski of Efficient Corporate: “I believe that Frenzoo’s technology is the key to engaging with players on a more intimate level, and is truly a game changer.”

Virtual Ability Mental Health Symposium 2012

I received a message today from Alice Krueger (SL:Gentle Heron) at Virtual Ability Inc, about an upcoming symposium. Save April 28 as the date – there’s an amazing array of speakers and topics. You can read the schedule below or check out Virtual Ability’s blog.

The full details:

Our society too often takes mental health for granted and too frequently stigmatizes people with mental health issues. The Virtual Ability Mental Health Symposium 2012, on Saturday, April 28, offers a variety of perspectives for thinking positively about mental health.

Presentations will take place at various locations in Second Life.  The full schedule is posted below, and at

Alice Krueger, president of Virtual Ability, Inc., notes, “A symposium is a formal meeting where individual presentations are followed by discussion. We intend these sessions to encourage audience participation with the presenters and especially with the content the presenters share. Mental health is too important a topic to ignore.”




PRESENTER: Dr. Tina Garcia

Saturday April 28, 2012, 8:00 am PDT



READER: Alice Krueger (Second Life Avatar: Gentle Heron)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 9:00 am PDT

Health & Wellness Pavilion, Healthinfo Island, Second Life

Gentle Heron will read aloud (with text) a chapter from Paul Broks’ book Into the Silent Land. This essay explores the nature of self-understanding. We will discuss the viewpoints presented, and think about how we view ourselves as individuals unique among all of humanity.

Author Information: Broks is a consultant in neuropsychology at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, UK. He was a runner-up for the Wellcome Trust Science Prize, and writes about his work as a neuropsychologist in magazines and newspapers as well as this book of essays.

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.



PRESENTER: Frank Hannah (Second Life Avatar: Frederick Hansome)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 10:00 am PDT

Blue Orchid Cabana, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

This lecture introduces a concept of mental health that will probably be new to you. You will be able to use it to develop a rock-solid self concept, learn to make wise choices, accomplish more and improve your relationships.  This approach to optimum mental health helps prevent the mental and physical problems that may otherwise occur. Handicaps don’t count here: everyone can develop optimum mental health!

Presenter Bio:  Frank Hannah (SL avatar: Frederick Hansome) is a retired mental health counselor with over 20 years clinical experience in private practice. He holds a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Nova University (now NovaSoutheastern).

In SL, as the alt “Plato Greybeard”, Hannah moderated a philosophical discussion group for about 2 1/2 years at Plato’s Academy. He closed the Academy to use his SL time to promote mental health. Please visit his website:

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.



(Keynote Presentation)

PRESENTER:  Dick Dillon (Second Life Avatar: Coughran Mayo)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 11:00 am PDT

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

We will discuss a variety of ways in which the characteristics of virtual world platforms, when used in the service of counseling, are not only as good as “real life,” but usually better.

Among the issues to be reviewed are “24/7 durability,” role plays and scene changes, and “I am my Avatar and my Avatar is me – or NOT”

Presenter Bio:  Dick Dillon has been in the mental health field for over 30 years in a variety of management and administrative positions. He recently left his position as Senior VP of Planning and Development for Preferred Family Healthcare to open his own consultation firm, Innovaision, LLC – dedicated to helping nonprofits realize the potential of using virtual worlds and other technologies.  Through his SL avatar, Coughran Mayo, Dillon has spent over 5 years actively involved in Second Life, working for the NonProfit Commons initiative and building and hosting the Preferred Family HC sim. He has made numerous presentations and been interviewed on Metanomics,  Rockcliffe University’s “Inside The Avatar Studio” program and other inworld news and issues programs.

Presented in voice, with text transcription.



PRESENTERS: Dr. Debra London and Dr. Marty Jencius

Saturday April 28, 2012, Noon PDT




Saturday April 28, 2012, 1:00 pm PDT

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

The brain is an amazing organ. Injuries such as those which are associated with PTSD may never heal. But the brain is “plastic,” which means the functions damaged by the brain injury can be relearned by other parts of the brain.

Presenter Bio:  Anya Ibor is the Founder and Executive Director of Fearless Nation PTSD Support, a 501c3 NonProfit Organization dedicated to providing free public education, support and advocacy for the understanding of PTSD. Since 2009 Fearless Nation has provided a virtual therapeutic support group.

Presented in voice, with text transcription.



PRESENTER:  MermaidSue Bailey

Saturday April 28, 2012, 3:00 pm PDT

Yellow Hibiscus Cabana, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

MermaidSue Bailey will lead a discussion on the importance of peer support to good mental health.

Presenter Bio:  MermaidSue Bailey is facilitator of the self-help group “When Life Goes Out of Control,” which is in its second year now and becoming a useful weekly fixture for its increasing group of members, all of whom either have a disability themselves or a family disability which impacts on daily life.  In RL, Sue works as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in the United Kingdom, in private practice and within the hospice movement. She has two teenage daughters and is a school governor.   In theory she doesn’t bring her professional life into Second Life, but experience in group therapy, as well as being a woman with a disability, gives her useful skills in facilitating more informal groups in virtual settings – but very much as a member of the group also in need of support from other people with disabilities.

Presented in text, with voice transcription.



PRESENTER: Roberto Salvatierra (Second Life Avatar: Roberto Salubrius)

Saturday April 28, 2012, 4:00 pm PDT

The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

Roberto was diagnosed with agoraphobia. He was unable to continue medical school, and became confined to his home. He will tell about his experiences, and what he learned about his health.

Presenter Bio:  Roberto Salvatierra, (SL avatar Roberto Salubrius), was born in San Jose, Costa Rica, in 1975. He had a bilingual education, and since an early age he worked with computers. At age 19, he started having panic attacks, until it evolved to agoraphobia by the time he was 24. He went to Medical School, where he got a minor on medical sciences and was going for his degree as Medical Doctor until his agoraphobia caught up with him, short of finishing Medical School. Since then he has been working on Second Life as a full time programmer for his own company, Techno Kitty Development, and for co-owned animation company Medhue Animations. In his free time he does a lot of medical research, especially on Mental Health, Cardiology, Endocrinology and Dysautonomias.

Presented in text, with voice transcription.



PRESENTER:  DyVerse Jeffery-Steele

Saturday April 28, 2012, 5:00 pm PDT

Yellow Hibiscus Cabana, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

April is (US) National Minority Health Month. Minority communities face unique problems related to mental health.

Living in poverty has the most measurable effects on the rates of mental illness. Minorities are overrepresented among the lowest socioeconomic groups, and thus have higher rates of mental illness than do non-Hispanic whites. Racism and discrimination cause increased levels of stress, which can adversely affect mental health.

Presenter Bio:  DyVerse Jeffery-Steele is a peer support leader for chronic illness and the issues that arise from illness.  He has been a peer support leader in Second Life and in real life for HIV/AIDS and diabetes, and the mental health issues that come with those diseases.  A strong supporter and user of social media and virtual worlds for health support and education, DyVerse has an office on Health Commons island.

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.

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

Campus Tour wins US Virtual Worlds Challenge

Congrats to Andrew Hughes and the team at Designing Digitally for their win in the 2012 Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge (see the full press release below).

You can also see our own interview with Andrew from November last year right here.


Designing Digitally, Inc. Wins the 2012 Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge


FRANKLIN, OHIO – Designing Digitally, Inc. took first place honors in the Familiarization category in the 2012 Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge with its 3D virtual campus tour of the United States Air Force Academy.

The Ohio-based tech firm used its 3D Virtual Campus Tours product to create a virtual replica of the campus that the Air Force Academy now uses for recruitment purposes. Designing Digitally, Inc.’s submission for the challenge was two-part. The first featured the first generation product the Air Force Academy currently uses. The second included enhancements Designing Digitally made to its campus tours product following the creation of the Air Force Academy’s virtual tour.

“We are honored by this incredible recognition,” said Nick Taylor, Director of Development. “We have been fortunate to have a fantastic partnership between ourselves and the United States Air Force Academy. Special thanks to the United States Air Force Academy for choosing Designing Digitally, Inc. to build this product.”

Designing Digitally’s 3D Virtual Campus Tours product is not only innovative, it’s also flexible to meet client needs.

“Our system allows for multiple types of virtual campus tours, including self-guided and admission representative-led options,” explained Greg Wark, 3D & Virtual Development Team Leader.

3D Virtual Campus Tours is meant to replicate the campus experience. When creating a virtual tour, Designing Digitally makes certain that each campus is built as photorealistic as possible. The company has more than seven years’ experience building virtual campuses in 3D, which surpasses others in the industry, said Wark.

“The system we create runs in a basic web browser on our clients’ websites,” Abby Hughes, Director of Client Relations, added. “Each tour is fully customized for the client. We can also incorporate interactive games such as virtual parachuting, basketball, hockey, flight simulator, trivia and more to enrich the experience for users.”

While the current version of 3D Virtual Campus Tours is so advanced it won this national award, Taylor said that’s not good enough.“We are constantly updating the system to be more and more innovative and to help our clients take a proactive approach to college recruitment.”

The system was originally designed to serve as a solution to a problem many campus recruiters face – the cost of travel. The idea was to enable students to “travel” to a campus without having to physically be there. The notion being: If they can see it and enjoy it, they’ll be more likely to attend, Hughes said.

“This product does exactly that by allowing students to walk around as a 3D avatar that looks like them,” Taylor said. “They can visit the dorms, walk around the campus to see how far the dorms are from the food courts, classrooms and other points of interest. It’s just like being there – only more cost effective.”

For more information, visit

The Lab: the great work continues

In June last year I profiled the superb work being done by Stefan Schutt and Dale Linegar at The Lab.

If you haven’t read that profile then definitely read it now, or even better listen to this interview with Melbourne’s RRR, recorded this week.

If ever there was a program involving virtual environments that deserves major league support, it’s The Lab. Go have a look in detail for yourself.

Eve Online FanFest panel accused of mocking suicidal player

CCP has launched an investigation after an Eve Online panel at its FanFest convention was accused of mocking a suicidal player.

Eve Online player Kestrel wrote to CCP and Eurogamer today to complain about Thursday’s Alliance Panel presentation.
The presentation, delivered by one of the CSM council members and moderated by a CCP employee, featured an in-game communication between two Eve Online players where, according to Kestrel, one of the players clearly indicated suicidal thoughts and showed “obvious” signs of severe depression.

“When this communication was shown to the audience the presenter, along with part of the audience of players and CCP representatives present all had a good laugh,” Kestrel said. “The presenter went on to encourage other players of Eve Online to harass this player in the hope that he would eventually be compelled to act on his suicidal thoughts.
“This player’s in-game contact information was provided. I found this section of the presentation to be in extremely poor taste.”
The panel was broadcast online as part of the streaming of the popular FanFest event, which showcased Eve Online, Dust 514 and World of Darkness.

In response, CCP issued a statement criticising the “abhorrent behaviour” that occurred.


Linden Lab clams up on metrics

Tateru Nino has a great story on how Linden Lab will no longer be providing SL economy metrics:

Essentially, over the years, the figures have been progressively stripped of the supporting data that gave them meaning, and now hardly anyone can understand what’s left. That kind of makes it a waste of time to extract the data and generate the reports in the first place.

Of course, the other side of the coin is this: When a company stops reporting some key statistic, it is almost always because the figure suddenly has gone South or otherwise looks bad. The Lab has stripped key items out of the reports on a number of occasions, as I mentioned, and it doesn’t take any great stretch of the imagination to figure that they were taken out because those figures were going sour, or that they appeared to be going sour because other data that would have aided in the interpretation of the figures was absent.

The latter tends to have a bit of a snowball effect. You stop publishing a metric that might be misinterpreted as bad, and then eventually its absence makes another metric misinterpretable as bad, until you’re left with a small set of metrics that don’t tell anyone anything terribly useful.

Here’s a post I did in May 2007, showing how far the transparency has declined. Here’s hoping this decision isn’t indicative of a more fundamental decline.

Ball State University buys out Blue Mars platform

It’s fair to say Blue Mars has had some challenges over the years, but it looks like it’s about to go to an even safer pay of hands, with Ball State University buying the platform:

Under Ball State’s terms of agreement with Avatar Reality, the university will begin to fully operate Blue Mars for non-commercial purposes, expand upon the source code, increase its research and academic initiatives, and enhance the community of Blue Mars. In addition, Ball State will continue to deliver original content on Blue Mars as it has done in the past. “I am really excited about the future,” Phil Repp, Ball State’s vice president for information technology, said. “Through our division of Hybrid Design Technologies, Ball State will further our position as a national leader in hybrid worlds and their applications to mediated learning technologies. Our reputation in this discipline is such a perfect fit to our institutional history of innovation in teaching and learning.

Read the rest at over at the superb

Previous Posts