The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. Kotaku (Australia) – Worlds.com Targets World of Warcraft, Second Life For Patent Suit. “Virtual world patent holder Worlds.com filed suit against NCSoft in December, claiming its games, including City of Heroes and Guild Wars, were violating its patent for multiplayer virtual environments. And it won’t stop there. Worlds.com CEO Thom Kidrin says that the company “absolutely” has intentions of going after other big virtual world creators, including Blizzard for World of Warcraft and Linden Labs for Second Life”.

2. CBC (Canada) – Virtual dealings in Second Life pose real-life privacy risks: study. “You can shop, date and commit crimes virtually in online fantasy worlds like Second Life, but you may jeopardize your privacy in the real world, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada says. What sets such worlds apart from mere games is the fact that they involve real money and real personal information, said Janet Lo, the author of the study released late last week by the Privacy Commissioner. The rules and agreements concerning privacy, however, were sometimes “missing, or just a bit unclear or vague,” Lo added.”

3. Business Insider (USA) – Linden Lab Finally Cracks Down On Second Life Porn. “Second Life is about to get a lot less sexy. Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, announced today a range of new measures meant to finally confine Second Life’s sprawling adult community to a virtual “red light district.”

4. Information Week (USA) – Second Life Putting A Leash On Sex, Violence. “Linden Lab will build a fence around adult content in Second Life, creating dedicated adults-only areas in the virtual world and banning adult content from appearing anywhere else on the public grid, the company said Thursday. Users — known as “residents” in Second Life jargon — who want to visit the new red-light districts will need to verify their age, according to a statement on the Second Life Blog. Residents hosting adult content on their areas of Second Life will be required to flag that content. Search results will be filtered so that people who don’t want to see adult results won’t have to see it.”

5. RedOrbit (USA) – Virtual World Second Life Continues To Thrive. “Some media reports have suggested the potential demise of the former Internet virtual world of Second Life, but Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon claims the former Internet darling is doing better than ever, the American Free Press reported. “The reality is that Second Life continues to grow; every second someone joins. Second Life is hopping,” said Kingdon, who last year took over for founder Philip Rosedale as chief executive of San Francisco-based Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life.”

6. Gamasutra (USA) – Qube, RedBedlam Partner For ‘Messiah’ MMO Tech. “iddleware company Qube Software and virtual worlds company RedBedlam, both of them UK companies, are partnering on new MMO development tech they call Messiah. Qube’s Q Engine middleware will provide the genre and platform-agnostic client base, while RedBedlam’s ZoneBubble System will provide the server technology for a single, persistent virtual world. RedBedlam says ZBS allows for the creation of large contiguous worlds without loading zones or artificial barriers, for the benefit of developers aiming for large communities that share the same environment. ”

7. Wall Street Journal (USA) – How Do Morals Translate Offline to Online? “How does a 12-year-old’s sense of right and wrong play out when he or she is online? A recent Michigan State University study, published in the academic journal Sex Roles, isn’t answering the question but attempting to get the conversation going. The study, titled “Gender, Race and Morality in the Virtual World and Its Relationship to Morality in the Real World,” looks at responses from 515 seventh-graders to questions about the acceptability of “virtual” actions. Those actions included spreading computer viruses, emailing test answers to friends, viewing pornography and sending sexually explicit messages to strangers. It compares those results to the same students’ responses to questions about real-world behavior like cheating on tests, bullying or teasing, lying to parents or teachers and using racial slurs.”

8. MSNBC (USA) – Nortel Teams Up With Virtual Heroes to Deliver 3D Virtual Training Application. “Nortel(1) (TSX: NT)(OTCBB: NRTLQ) today announced that it is working with Virtual Heroes Inc.(2), a leader in simulations for learning, serious games and virtual worlds, to further enhance the simulation and training functionality of its web.alive communications application. Virtual Heroes Inc. (VHI), the “Advanced Learning Technology Company”, creates collaborative interactive learning solutions for the healthcare, federal systems and corporate training markets. The company is best known for its work with the America’s Army Game training platform architecture, and HumanSim(TM)(2) for medical training and education.”

9. Mediaweek (USA) – Sony a Hit With PlayStation Home. “Sony’s gamer-targeted virtual world PlayStation Home has reached a new audience milestone, having been downloaded by 5 million users since going live back in December, said officials—2.2 million of which reside in the U.S. and Canada. But don’t expect the avatar playground to become flooded with ads anytime soon, according to Jack Buser, director of PlayStation Home, Sony Computer Entertainment America.”

10. The Associated Press – Deaths of gamers leave their online lives in limbo. “When Jerald Spangenberg collapsed and died in the middle of a quest in an online game, his daughter embarked on a quest of her own: to let her father’s gaming friends know that he hadn’t just decided to desert them. It wasn’t easy, because she didn’t have her father’s “World of Warcraft” password and the game’s publisher couldn’t help her. Eventually, Melissa Allen Spangenberg reached her father’s friends by asking around online for the “guild” he belonged to.”

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