Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

frenzy-magazine1. Frenzoo have launched a bi-weekly web magazine called Frenzy, created by its users. You can view the PDF here or the Flash version here.

2. Metaplace have expanded their in-world games, adding Doomgarden,Meep Combat! and a Perfect Match dating game. With the recent controversy over social games, it’s great to see some simple but fun games with no wider purpose than fun.

3. The Wii Fit doesn’t seem to provide as good a workout as some may think, according to a recent study (PDF document). One of the study authors sums it up: “Since using the Wii Fit alone may not produce results that meet recommended physical activity, guidelines” notes study author Alexa Carroll, M.S., “it is important that individuals partici- pate in additional exercises to effectively reach these guidelines.”

4. Malaysia is apparently punching well above its weight in spending in Second Life, its 28 million people making up 4% of expenditure. Australia is sitting on 2%.

5. Whilst on a Malaysia, here’s a great (80-page) piece of research on the use of virtual reality in medicine:

Reserach Report: Virtual Reality: Establishing Medical Hallmarks

(with thanks to ScienceRoll)

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

warcraft_deadspider 1. The announcement of Second Life Enterprise has certainly sparked some discussion. There’s some interesting debate here and some barely amusing coverage here – surely the ‘flying penises’ anecdote has been flogged to death a few dozen times by now?

Finally, here’s a great example of how the standalone offering is already being used (although it could just as easily have been done on the main Second Life grid).

2. World of Warcraft continues its work on extracting as much money out of players as possible. fatfoogoo argues it’s the next step toward microtransactions in the MMO. I’ve already had one guild member fork out US $10 for Lil’ K.T.

3. UK-based Second Life resident Tyche Shepherd does some amazing work crunching data over at her Grid Survey site. On the SL Universe forums a few weeks back, she posted some interesting information about the level of private ownership of mainlaind sims in Second Life. 70% is privately owned, the rest by Linden Lab.

4. Lost amongst the clamour around Second Life Enterprise, Linden Lab have released Q3 economy statistics. More than a billion hours have now been clocked up in-world by Second Life residents and Australia continues to be a significant player in terms of user-to-user transactions and hours spent. All the details here.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds


1. Virtual London is coming soon to Twinity and they’re asking for people to apply to create some innovative spaces. There’s 200 Euros in prize money up for grabs plus your own space in Twinity. All the details here

2. Volume 2, No. 3 of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is out. The theme of the issue is Technology, Economy and Standards.

3. If you want a comprehensive summary on accessibility and virtual worlds, then you can’t go past this post by’s KerryJ.

4. Another study has been published on the link between gaming and violence, and not surprisingly the results aren’t black and white.

5. The US Government is revising their National Educational Technology Plan. Anyone interested in having a say should head to ISTE Island in Second Life on the 5th November at 6pm SL time (Midday AEDT).

The full details:

The federal government of the United States of America has assembled an 18 person team to update and revise the National Education Technology Plan. Their report deadline is November 11, 2009. There will be a community meeting in Second Life for educational technology stakeholders to provide input into the planning process. Currently, we expect that a representative of the national team will be present as an observer at the SL event.

The event coordinator is Perplexity Peccable (RL: Patricia F. Anderson, Perplexity is the University of Michigan Emerging Technologies Librarian for the Health Sciences, and the community manager for Wolverine Island in SL. Contact Perplexity for more information or to volunteer support or services for this event.

Information on prior versions of the plan is available here.

Information on the current planning process is available here,

The team is seeking input from the public. You can join the conversation on their website here.

“If you had five minutes to talk with President Obama about educational technology, what would you say?”

The key topic discussion points are these.

* Learning: Providing unprecedented access to high-quality learning experiences.
* Assessment: Measuring what really matters and providing the information that enables continuous improvement at all levels of the education system.
* Teaching: New ways to support those who support learning.
* Productivity: Redesigning systems and processes to free up education system resources to support learning.”

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

habbo-oct2009 1. Teen virtual world Habbo Hotel have teamed up with MTV International to bring the European MTV Awards vibe to Habbo. Users can vote in-world for the awards as well as get involved in some competitions.

2. Caleb Booker has created a great wish list of features that would make a truly successful 3D platform. Lots of stuff I totally agree with, although I disagree that interoperability is a red herring – the walled environments are definitely keeping people from investing from discussions I have. That said, getting some of the more basic things right would certainly help.

3. Jezebel takes a baseball bat to marketers who don’t seem to get the fact that female gamers aren’t one definable demographic.

4. Linden Lab have announced an update to the Second Life viewer: 1.23.5. It’s essentially a security update:

Residents using the Official and Release Candidate versions of the 1.23.4 Viewer are required to update to version 1.23.5. Those of you still using version 1.22.11 will be offered version 1.23.5 as an optional update. If you choose to remain on 1.22.11, you may notice changes in the way notecard editing behaves. If you use a viewer not created by Linden Lab, you may also see changes in the way notecard editing behaves. To avoid any potential confusion caused by these behavioral changes, we strongly recommend that you immediately update to the new 1.23.5 Second Life Viewer.

Confused yet? If you like your Second Life viewer to be non-Linden Lab, then the Imprudence viewer has also had an update.

5. Who’d a thunk it: using virtual environments for meetings and/or other collaboration opportunities is effective from both a financial and productivity viewpoint.

6. Over at sister-site Metaverse Health, we discuss informed consent for medical procedures and the use of Second Life, which is the substantive topic of an interview on today’s Radio National Future Tense episode. There’s also a brief interview with yours truly on how Second Life has continued to be a success in spite of media coverage stating the contrary.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

metaplace-musicquest 1. Metaplace are having a Halloween Party on the 31st October. All the details here.

2. If you’re a Mac user interested in signing up for the Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) beta test, don’t bother. It won’t matter if you intend on running Windows on your Mac, BioWare aren’t interested in having you take part. While talking SWTOR, prolific SWTOR site Darth Hater asks the question: is SWTOR a paradigm shift for the MMO genre?

3. Tateru Nino reports on how Linden Lab have jumped heavily on a bunch of copyright infringers in Second Life.

4. OpenSim in a web page anyone?

5. The Metaverse Aid team have funded 17 entrepreneurs in developing countries so far via Why not join us?

6. Yours truly has written a piece for Crikey on the legal action against Linden Lab and its implications for virtual goods and intellectual property rights. On the same topic, The Alphaville Herald asks what will happen next with the legal action.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds


1. This week sees the launch of two new gaming worlds. The first is Fallen Earth, a post-apocalyptic world, will cost you US$49.99 for the boxed or digital download versions plus a monthly US$14.99 fee (there are discounts for multi-month subscriptions).

The second is the fantasy MMO Aion. It too costs US$49.95 plus US$14.99 per month. Both require Windows XP or Vista, with no Mac OSX support. I know OSX is still only around 10% of the userbase, but in a burgeoning MMO marketplace, surely it’s a worthwhile proposition?

2. OpenSim continues to go from strength to strength – a post over at Maxping gives some reasons why. They also have a story on new enterprise virtual world solution, Amphisocial.

3. Ren Reynolds has a great piece over at Terra Nova on journalists not fact-checking stories on virtual environments.

4. Here’s some original music and machinima from Australian Second Life resident Shakti Cianci:

5. John Waugh at SLENZ has posted an insightful piece, wondering why New Zealand educators aren’t utilising virtual environments more widely in their practice.

6. For lovers of theatre, why not check out the Avatar Repertory Theater’s staging of 13 Objects: Studies in Servitude by Howard Barker:

Performances will be on Oct 20, 4pm SLT and October 21, 2pm SLT at Coventry University Sim. On October 21, 2009, more than 50 theater companies will stage readings and performances in celebration of the 21st anniversary of the founding of Howard Barker’s theater company, The Wrestling School. A.R.T.’s virtual theater will be another facet in the world wide celebration, from Mexico to Iceland, Australia to Cyprus, in five languages. Organizations participating include the Royal Shakespeare Company in London and the Skylight Theatre Company in Perth. A.R.T. will be performing “13 Objects: Studies in Servitude” by Howard Barker, live in Second Life, October 20th at 4 pm and October 21st at 2 pm SLT at the Coventry University sim. 13 Objects shows the secret lives of everyday objects, such as a cup and saucer, or a camera, to make intimate connections and inspire powerful feelings, with poetic language, provocative ideas and dark humor. University/32/171/751/

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

markettruths 1. September 10th 2009 at Noon PST (that’s 5.00am, Friday the 11th in Australia) sees an in-world screening of the documentary “Another Perfect World: In Search of Virtual Paradise,” by Femke Wolting & Jorien van Nes. There’ll be a Q&A with the filmmakers afterwards. You can see a preview of the movie here.

Whilst we’re talking Metaplace, NZ-based Market Truths also has a presence well under development, which I stumbled across today (as pictured).

2. If you’re interested in policy, politics and virtual worlds, then you might enjoy Pixels and Policy, “a new website and blog dedicated to the study of how virtual worlds impact real-world policy, politics, and culture”.

3. Tateru Nino has some interesting graphs on the median concurrency in Second Life i.e. a daily figure showing the middle of the distribution of Second Life residents logged in at one time.

4. If you’re a writer or interested in writing, you might like to check out The Written Word in Second Life or get an intro on their website. There’s also Meet An Author broadcast on

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

metaplace-avatar 1. Metaplace are previewing some new avatar customisation options on their forums. Don’t forget anyone can register for free to test out Metaplace now.

2. If you ever needed proof of how Relay for Life in Second Life is going from strength to strength, here it is:

Leaders of the Relay For Life of Second Life travelled to Dallas, Texas this past weekend to participate in the 2009 Relay For Life Nationwide Leadership Summit. The Summit is an annual activity bringing together Relay staff and volunteer leadership for 2 days of training to help each Relay improve and grow. Attendees from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa were joined by Second Life as honored guests. The summit goers attended various workshops designed to arm them with the newest innovations and ideas, reinforce basic Relay activities and share individual ideas and successes.

Relay For Life of Second Life was represented by incoming Event Chair Tayzia Abattoir, co-chair Nuala Maracas and Trader Whiplash. They were joined there by Staff Partner Stingray9798 Raymaker.

Reuel Johnson, the American Cancer Society’s Vice President for Relay For Life specifically cited Relay For Life of Second Life during his opening remarks, noting that the virtual Relay had exceeded its target, raising more than $274,000, had attracted more than 120 teams, and had over 750 years of survivorship represented on the track during it’s opening lap on July 18th.
The avatar of Trader Whiplash, co-winner of the 2009 Spirit of Relay award in Second Life, presented a 3 minute video to the nearly 500 attendees, as part of the Quality portion of the summit.

(Thanks to Belle Loll for the heads-up)

3. Skribe Forti has produced a tasty machinima based in a world called Blue Mars, which is currently in beta:

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

abc-island-july2009 1. ABC Island‘s friends are seeking feedback on the new Pool Studio. It features a green screen area for Machinima production and a cinema section where we hope to stream video shortly.

2. Interested in helping entrepreneurs in developing countries? Our Metaverse Aid team is growing slowly and more than a dozen ventures have been funded to date. Why not join us?

3. There’s lots of buzz around the US Government’s Deputy CTO, Beth Noveck, who’s a long-tim Second Life resident who is still dropping in regularly.

4. Second Nights is a new website / social network for those who enjoy Second Life’s entertainment on offer. A ‘finder’ feature for artists, clubs, DJs and more is available.


5. The 2009 Relay for Life in Second Life has completed, with more than US 260 thousand dollars raised. Here’s one Australian blog devoted to raising awareness of the event.

6. Tateru Nino has Ten Great Tips for New Second Life Users that are well worth reading.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

1. Daden Limited have launched an Apollo 11 simulation that’s well worth spending some time checking out. It features Tranquility Base and the Eagle lander, and “allows visitors to follow the footsteps of Armstrong and Aldrin, whilst looking at the videos and photos they took, and finding out about the science experiments they left behind”.

Start here to make your journey and make sure you download the HUD before teleporting to the lunar surface. Spacesuit is optional (I purchased mine for the occasion, and purists will note it’s not an Apollo suit).

I created a rough machinima on my short space walk without the HUD activated:

2. Treet TV (formerly SLCN) have partnered up with recent Linden Prize winner Studio Wikitecture, to “reate a collaborative building environment for bringing new life to Treet’s studio islands”. There are plans to create a documentary about the collaborative process and its outcome, with an early 2010 release date slated.

3. Second Life-based Australian band SpaceJunky are sponsoring a Grid WideTreasure Hunt:

This treasure hunt is about Science Fiction and Fantasie so there will be everything from Star Wars, Dark Crystal, Labyrinths, spaceships, fairys, and anything else you can imagine!

There will be boxes hidden all over SpaceJunky Island including a SpaceJunky crystal with a special SpaceJunky song in it. Yes that’s right FREE! The crystal will play the song when touched. Crystal Gypsy Designs wil have one too with a special meditation song in it composed by Shakti of SpaceJunky.

The hunt runs between 1st August and 17th August.

IM Bloodhex Squeegee for more info.

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