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The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

May 25, 2009

1. Bizinformer (USA) – Entering an Era of Virtual Currencies? “There’s money. People (me included) carry it around in their wallets and save small pieces of it in the ashtrays or cup holders of their cars. And they buy things with it – hamburgers, gasoline, and sometimes other small things. Then there’s checks and credit cards. We pretend they’re money and much of the time that works for us. They’re closely related to money. Then there’s RockYou Pets from Hi5, Linden Dollars frm Second Life, and PEDs from the planet Calypso, in an online gaming world called Entropia Universe. How much like money are they? Some would say they are money – to the extent that you live your life in a particular virtual world. Some of them are actually exchangeable in the real world; 250 Linden Dollars is worth one US dollar. You can provide a service or sell a product in Second Life, change the Linden Dollars into “real money” (whatever that is now) and take it to the grocery store or the mall. PEDs can also be converted back into real money; 10 PEDs equal one US dollar.”

2. Ottawa Citizen (Canada) – It slices, it dices … it markets to kids. “We’ve come a long way from the days when placing ads for toys and sugary cereals alongside Saturday-morning cartoons was the slickest way to sell stuff to kids. Marketers have become increasingly sophisticated in their efforts to expand brands with young consumers. Some present kids with the keys to the product image, allowing them to create new products. For example, media companies provide audio and video clips that young fans slice and dice to create montages. “Advertisers and broadcasters are approaching children as participants in cultural production and not as audiences,” says Stuart Poyntz, an assistant professor of communications at Simon Fraser University.”

3. IntoMobile (USA) – First Look: The Sims 3 for iPhone. “EA Mobile’s stable of iPhone games is already impressive, but it’s about to get even better. The mobile arm of famed game developer EA is putting the finishing touches on their latest in iPhone gaming – The Sims 3 for iPhone – and we’ve got the first-look scoop for all our readers! These are the same guys behind iPhone-tastic gaming titles like Spore Origins, Tiger Woods PGA Tour and Need for Speed Undercover, so you know their “next big thing” is going to be, well, big. And, after spending some time with the EA Mobile team and their Sims 3 iPhone game, we’re convinced they have a hit on their hands.”

4. Mediaweek (USA) – eMarketer: 50% of Kids Online Will Use Virtual Worlds by ’12. “hile virtual worlds like Second Life still represent a fringe activity in the general market, more than half of the kids who use the Internet will be regular visitors to virtual worlds in just four years, predicts researcher eMarketer. Virtual worlds — game-like Web environments where users can create avatars in a fantasy landscape and interact with other users — have become particularly popular among young children. Currently, eMarketer estimates that there are 6 million kids age 3-11 who visit virtual worlds at least once a month, representing 37 percent of that Web demographic. By 2012, there will be 8.7 million kids 3-11 using virtual worlds — or 50 percent of the entire kids’ online universe.”

5. New England Business Bulletin (USA) – New corporate training options include virtual worlds. “Online options have rewritten the world of corporate training, expanding possibilities well beyond the traditional presenter with Powerpoint show. Today, businesses across the globe are using 3-D virtual world technology as a way to hold meetings, simulate business in any environment, conduct training and much more. One growing example, Second Life, dubbed a “virtual world imagined and created by its residents,” is an online world that businesses have begun to get acclimated with over the last year or so because of the possibilities it holds for nontraditional learning.”

6. BusinessWeek (USA) – Studying Epidemics in Virtual Worlds. ” day after news reports about an outbreak of swine flu in Mexico, health officials in Allegheny County, Pa., huddled to discuss contingency plans. How should they respond if the virus came to their part of the world? By closing schools? With widespread vaccinations? To test different courses of action, they turned to computer scientists who had built a working model of the county. “It helps come up with recommendations of when and how to intervene,” says Dr. Ron Voorhees, chief of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Allegheny County Health Dept.”

7. Popular Science (Australia) – Businesses Seek a New Lease on Second Life. “What ever happened to the online virtual world revolution? You know, the one where everyone would spend hours every day blinging out their Second Life avatars and crashing weddings in World of Warcraft? Well, those days never quite materialized. The media fanfare around virtual worlds has transitioned from an initial wildfire of exuberance to essentially nothing, as expectations for growth and revenue failed to pay off.”

8. VentureBeat (USA) – Second Life generates 15 billion minutes in web voice calls. “When you think of phone companies, Linden Lab’s Second Life virtual world doesn’t come to mind. But the company is announcing today that its users have used its web-voice calling feature to talk to each other for a total of 15 billion minutes since it was introduced 18 months ago. The voice-over-Internet-protocol web calling service inside the virtual world is now being used at a rate of 1 billion minutes per month, said Mark Kingdon, chief executive of Linden Lab in San Francisco. By comparison, the VOIP service Skype has been used for 200 billion minutes in the past six years. At any given moment, 50,000 Second Life residents are using the voice application.”

9. Gamasutra (USA) – Sixth Annual State of Play Conference Discusses Future of Virtual Worlds. “Organizers of the Sixth Annual State of Play Conference announced that this year’s event will be held on June 19th and 20th at the New York Law School. The conference will focus on the social impact of virtual worlds and multiplayer online games. State of Play’s sixth annual showing will bring together scholars, games developers, industry figures, and government leaders to examine the development and study of virtual worlds. Speakers at this year’s conference will discuss whether scholars have reached a limit in the understanding of multiplayer online spaces, and will seek to determine whether virtual worlds have stalled at a development plateau.”

10. CNN (USA) – ‘Virtual currencies’ power social networks, online games. “When Santiago Martinez wants to give his friends birthday presents, he buys a cake or flowers or sometimes a teddy bear. But the 41-year-old, who lives on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, doesn’t spend pesos or dollars. He buys the gifts with an online-only currency called hi5 Coins. He also doesn’t deliver the gifts in the physical world. They appear digitally on his friends’ online profiles on a site called hi5, which is a social network like Facebook or MySpace. “They can’t eat the cake. It is an image — the thing that it represents,” said Martinez, an accountant with a wife and two kids. “You can send the feeling of that [cake] that you want to send.”

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Comments

  • SiliconSurfer
    Very interesting first article!
    Point to note: Lindens are a fluctuating currency, while PED are guaranteed by the company MindArk, which is now licensed as a Swedish Bank, as well. There is a much greater issue with inflation and currency devaluation when the company is not on the hook for the value of the currency as Linden is not. I prefer the MindArk model.
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