Wimbledon in Second Life

Wimbledon is one of the world’s best known tennis tournaments and once again it’s going to be in Second Life on the heels of the Australian Open presence earlier this year.

Closely involved with the project is Ian Hughes, a Meteverse Evangelist with IBM. I asked him to throw some light on the goals of the Wimbledon build this year:

“Amongst other things we have about 180 people onsite working to help the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) deal with the massive event, from collecting scores and stats and moving that data around to the TV people, to ticketing and wireless networking for press. The website is somewhere we provide point by point live scoring in seconds and sometimes quicker to the world.

In 2006 I did a proof of concept privately to show that we were able to bring much of the web data into Second Life and render it in various ways allowing people to consume and enjoy the content together, also to provide the ability to get involved through being able to talk to people working the event and leave wearing free tshirts. In 2007 we made this a more public and approved build. I manned the build for 12 hours a day for 2 weeks. The centrepiece was bringing the Hawkeye ball tracking data into a prim based court, playing near-live rallies in real time.

The build on IBM 7 was deliberately small and intimate, as we have exmaples of large stadiums as was done for the Australian Open. So to compare and contrast was important. Also, this build was placed in the heart of the main IBM 12 islands, to be just part of our virtual world presence and make it easier to take people to other nearby IBM builds such as the SOA (service orientated architecture) one. In fact, you can point to them from Wimbledon and show people the neighbours.

We also found that people came to hear what IBM does for Wimbledon and so built a ‘behind the scenes’ tour. We kept it fairly low key events-wise though got lots of press and blog attention which kept me busy talking to 200 people a day. This year we are reusing much of the build, but renovating part of it. We are looking to put a few more entertaining mini games in place, remodelling the shop, providing some more takeaway products. We are not really planning on doing the ball tracking, simply because we want to focus on the web page integration in Second Life this year and we have proved the principle works.

In order to take that live representation further we would need to start to represent the the real player images, something that may get us into image rights. The new web page elements in SL mean we can provide complete score pages live and in realtime as we do to the web, but be able to see them all together as a group. The experiment is to see how that dynamic works with an event. We can place a browser on a prim surface and remove the need to remake everything (even text) in 3D. Showing how it is possible to re-use much of the web, but benefit from shared browsing and communication between avatars is a key driver. Having a live dynamic website with constantly changing information will help us evaluate the best way to approach this on other projects. In particular, the dynamic of what happens in a virtual world that is integrated with a company intranet and a company’s business, not just a place to escape to.

As I have said, this is still an experiment that we are lucky enough to be able to partake of. I know I learned a great deal in the marathon staffing of this last year. Having been free and roaming across Second Life, visiting events, running workshops, building, scripting etc it was a very different feel to be locked into one place and enthuse about it and what it represents for so much of the day. Unlike in RL where we have bursts of visitors, SL visits happen all the time. Likewise seeing the wax and wane of the green dot effect was intriguing. Also, the support from my fellow eightbars from IBM, where many of them chose to also come along and help out through the tournament. Building, hosting, just passing the time of day. All these are things that are often lost in other electronic communication.”

Check it out in-world.

Popularity: 2% [?]

The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. CNET – Mitch Kapor: 3D cameras will make virtual worlds easier to use. “Mitch Kapor, like many people, is well aware that virtual worlds are often very difficult to use. The founder of Lotus 1-2-3, who also happens to be the first investor in Second Life publisher Linden Lab and its chairman, spoke at the Metaverse Roadmap meeting here today on the topic of what can be done to make using virtual worlds a better experience”.

2. CNN money – IBM Launches PowerUp, a New Free 3D Multiplayer Virtual Science Game for the Classroom. “IBM (NYSE: IBM) is launching a free multiplayer online game, PowerUp (www.powerupthegame.org), challenging teenagers to help save the planet “Helios” from ecological disaster. The game is part of IBM’s TryScience initiative and will be launched at Engineer’s Week 2008 opening on February 16 in Washington, D.C. The game, which can be played alone or together, features a planet in near ecological ruin where three exciting missions for solar, wind and water power must be solved before sandstorms, floods or SmogGobs thwart the rescue”.

3. The Emory Wheel – Emory Conference Discusses New Reality of Virtual Worlds. “With graying hair, a grizzled face and a penchant for bow ties, Benn Konsynski, professor of business administration at Goizueta Business School, doesn’t fit the typical stereotype of an online gamer. But you should never judge a book by its cover: Konsynski takes his games very seriously — and he isn’t the only one. In fact, on Monday, Goizueta was filled with a variety of people from across the nation — academics, businessmen, tech enthusiasts and IT professionals — who all share the belief that gaming is much more than child’s play”.

4. Government Executive.com – Blogging the Virtual Government.”Not long from now, we will make laws, set policies, write regulations and create programs by first “playing” the likely consequences in synthetic worlds, says Anne Laurent, longtime observer of federal management and creator, just this year, of a new blog, “The Agile Mind.””.

5. Kotaku – Hello Kitty Online Detects No Sarcasm. “Hello Kitty Online hopes to transport its players into a world of sweetness and light. A world without hate. A world without fear. A world, apparently, without a sense of sarcasm. This morning I was pointed towards the main page for Hello Kitty Online, which features a quote I swear I’ve read before”.

6. Courant.com – The Pitfalls Of Online Role-Playing Games. “How would you change your life if you could simply flip a switch? If you could start it all over again, what would you do differently? Thousands of people are doing just that — in the virtual sense. Byork and Alyssa are young, attractive millionaires — married for less than a year. Byork made his fortune in the stock market and has retired at the ripe old age of 36. Alyssa, a former runway model, met Byork at a local dance club, and three week later, they were engaged”.

7. Terra Nova – Organising Virtual Events. “On the 18th December 2007 Twofour Learning and the Beyond Distance Research Alliance at the University of Leicester launched the Second Life Media Zoo project. The Island showcases a range of learning initiatives put forward by the Beyond Distance Research Alliance and is intended as a learning and research platform, aimed at gathering data on social interaction, behaviour and the importance of learning within a virtual 3D environment”.

8. Second Life Herald – Second Life Economy is in a Recession. “After the banking ban, there are commentators who state that the Second Life Economy is in a recession and then there are the opposing commentators that say that the Second Life Economy is not in a recession”.

Popularity: 1% [?]

2008 Australian Open Tennis in Second Life

Following on from last year’s foray into Second Life, IBM and the tournament organisers have again teamed up to replicate the real world action in Second Life. Australian IBM staff are central to the whole thing and are hoping for a response at least equal to last year’s.


Features of the build include the replica Rod Laver and Margaret Court arenas, an integrated scoreboard, virtual gameplay (you can be one of the players on the court – racket supplied) and you can even open the Rod Laver arena’s roof by shouting ‘open sesame’. As matches are occurring in real life the Second Life court avatars move in the same locations as their real-life counterparts. It’s one of those experiences that really demonstrates the growing evolution of what virtual worlds can do. And of course you can even buy a t-shirt.


Something a little different from last year is the ‘Couture on the Court’ competition. You have until the 21st January to enter your tennis outfit design. From the 22nd January Second Life residents can vote on the submitted designs with the top 10 receiving a prize. First prize is a quarter of a million Linden dollars so if fashion design’s your thing this may be worth spending some time on.


Check it out in-world

Popularity: 5% [?]

Interview – Gizzy Electricteeth (Kelly Daly), IBM

Gizzy Electricteeth (aka Kelly Daly) is another Australian in SL that has been a very active participant in a range of areas. As training and technology lead for IBM Australia in SL, she’s busy enough. On top of that she’s played a training role for Aussie residents, recently commencing the Prim School series on ABC Island which shows residents how to create objects in SL.


We caught up with Gizzy this week to find out a little more:

Lowell: Tell us a little about yourself – where did you grow up, get educated etc?

Gizzy: I was born in Adelaide, and got dragged kicking and screaming to Ballarat when I was 5 (apparently that’s too young to move out of home – I asked!!). My formative years were all spent there, up to and including my Bachelor degree in computer science from the University of Ballarat. It was here that I also started working for IBM part time while in the final year of that degree. Once my degree was complete I moved to Melbourne (still working for IBM), and started my masters at RMIT part time. This took a LOT more years than intended as part way into it I was enlisted to give tutorials and labs, and then later to be a replacement lecturer for several subjects when the usual lecturer was unavailable. This all culminated in lecturing my own web subject, emergency lecturing some database subjects, and continuing working giving labs and tutorials in most of the subjects which I had already completed. The result was my Masters took about 4 years longer than intended =)

I am owned by three completely loony cats – the youngest of which is named Linden (thanks to my fiance!!).

Lowell: Where have you worked prior to IBM?

Gizzy: I have been ten years now with IBM – prior to that were the usual round of part time uni jobs at random computer shops, pizza shops, etc ;) And the RMIT thing (more “while at” than “prior to” =) )

Lowell: Can you describe for us your current role at IBM?

Gizzy: My role at the moment is training and tech lead in Second Life building projects, also research and rapid prototyping for potential SL projects. My role about a month ago was as a Linux Kernel developer.

Lowell: What are IBM’s objectives for their presence in SL? And where does the IBM Australian Development lab fit in?

Gizzy: We are researching and learning as much as we can on virtual worlds. I say virtual worlds here as we are not focussed solely on Second Life, but over a large range of products. IBM’s aim is to assist in making virtual worlds ready for general consumption for both business and home.

Earlier in the year, IBM’s CEO, Sam Palmisano, announced $100 million USD to be spent on research into ten key focus areas which were chosen through an “Innovation Jam”. Employees, family members and friends were all asked to submit ideas on how they think IBM could improve areas such as environment, work and life balance and health, technology, etc… Virtual worlds was one of the top areas of interest shown through this, and therefore was a part of this funding announcement. In fact, Sam made this announcement in the forbidden city, Beijing in real life AND Second Life simultaneously =)

The Australia Development Lab fits into this by being the Australian arm of the emerging business organisation created around virtual worlds as a result of Sam’s funding. We currently have a team of two people working full time in this area (myself included), and a whole host of others who volunteer their time to increase their knowledge in this arena (and to have fun – because they love it!)


Lowell: Can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve been involved in, including the Australian Open project?

Gizzy: I have been involved mostly in internal build projects such as IBM PartnerWorld, ADL, several client demos and a little with the Sears and Circuit City builds. And, of course, the Australian Open.

The Australian Open was the first large customer build that I have been involved with. We had a three person development team (myself on building, my Australian colleague on scripting, and a US based colleague on graphics – displaying the collaborative nature of working within Second Life ;) ). Each of us assisted with all areas of the build, although for the majority of this project we kept to our defined roles, and that really seems to work well on larger scale projects. We had a live feed of ball positioning data coming from the IBM technical team onsite, which we could then manipulate into SecondLife coordinates and recreate the game on the tennis court in our island just a few seconds behind reality. Using this data we were able to determine where a player would need to be standing to hit the ball, and move a pose ball to this location so that we could have an avatar sitting on the pose ball and look to be playing the game of tennis. This provided people with a view of the ball coming at them as if they were the played on the court. Ever wanted to be Federer? We also had live data of all match information – scores from past and present matches on all courts throughout Melbourne Park, scheduling information, etc. These were able to be seen at all times on various score boards and match update centres throughout the island, and also via a heads up display that could be used from anywhere within SecondLife. The build itself took a great deal of detail from the real Rod Laver Arena and the surrounding grounds, right down to a virtual recreation of the tennis ball shaped Garden Square at the back of the arena. All of this build was based on photographs.

There is a YouTube demo of the Australian Open build here.

IBM as a whole has been involved in MANY more projects, and we have people from all over the world working on both internal (IBM) and external (customer) projects.

Lowell: What specifically about SL limits you achieving what you’d like to in projects?

Gizzy: I am VERY MUCH looking forward to learning how to use sculpted prims in Second Life =) And some better scripting!

Lowell: Have you had any involvement with other virtual worlds and if so which one/s?

Gizzy: Personally, I have not looked much further than Eve Online or World of Warcraft. I spend so much time inside of Second Life that I no longer seem to have a first! =)


Lowell: What excites you most about your work in SL?

Gizzy: At the moment the same thing that excited me about teaching at RMIT – seeing people grow and learn as a result of information that I can share with them =)

It is also exciting working with new technologies before they become mainline, working out what can or cannot be done with these technologies. It is a lot of fun =)

Lowell: Any predictons you’d like to make about SL development over the next year?

Gizzy: Not necessarily a prediction so much as a hope… Linden Labs have open sourced the client and there are rumours of the server to follow. With my Linux and Open Source/Open Standards background, I would truly love to see this come to light.

Lowell: Three favourite places you keep coming back to in SL?

Gizzy: DE Designs (my avatar is ALWAYS dressed in stuff from here!!)

The build of the Yankee Stadium by the Electric Sheep Company was very much an inspiration when we decided to do the Australian Open:

I don’t know that there is another single build that I keep returning to more than any other (apart from my own current projects through necessity ;)

I love to look around at other pretty builds – places where the architects have ignored real world constraints and built for what works within SecondLife… Such as Text100 Island, ABN AMRO and almost any build by Dalian Hansen (he is TRULY an inspiration), Electric Sheep or Aimee Weber.

Popularity: 10% [?]