Archive for the 'Virtual Worlds' Category

Culture of Virtual Worlds

July 02nd, 2008 | Category: Environmental, Press, Press release, Research, Virtual Worlds

From a notecard inworld:

CALL FOR PAPERS
Journal of Virtual Worlds Research
Special Issue: Culture of Virtual Worlds
Deadline: September 30, 2008
Publication Date: November 20, 2008

Guest Editors
Mark Bell, Indiana University
Mia Consalvo, Ohio University

Early users of virtual worlds trumpeted their potential to bring together like-minded groups to create community, to encourage social activism, and to explore facets of identity. Over the past 20 years, we have seen virtual worlds develop from text-based to graphical, and from 2D to 3D interactive spaces. Some spaces have focused primarily on game-related activities, from MUD through Ultima Online and World of Warcraft, while others have concentrated on social aspects of being, allowing users to define their own goals, and often create many parts of the spaces they inhabit–from LambdaMoo to The Palace and Second Life. Virtual worlds have also become big business at the same time as some worlds remain resolutely tied to different goals. Yet what of the cultures that have grown up in, around, and through virtual worlds in this same time period? What do we know about that culture, or more accurately, those cultures and how to define them?

Individuals, groups, and corporations are exploring the potentials of virtual worlds, and what is created in that process says as much about our everyday lives as it does about our times spent online. But what do we know? Because of their richly detailed spaces, virtual worlds tend to encourage specific sorts of participants and players, along with expectations about behavior and culture. Yet at the same time, we cannot know how participants will create a livable space, develop a unique culture, until it happens. How is that process occurring in today’s virtual worlds? What do we know about past virtual worlds to guide us? We are slowly learning about how identity shifts and mutates online, yet isn’t as free-floating as early theorists claimed. What of users who are in game-centric versus non-game centric places–how does game versus non-game make a difference in who uses the space, how, and why? Likewise, we now see virtual worlds with transnational user bases. How does that impact the culture, the creation, and the experience of virtual worlds. What happens when virtual worlds emerge, when they expand quickly, and when they die, either slowly or suddenly? What happens to users and how do they make sense of those experiences? How do developers play a role in managing all those expectations, and how much can they actually control? These questions are only the tip of iceberg, just as today’s virtual worlds are at the forefront of emergent design of 3D spaces.

This special issue of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is dedicated to exploring the issue of culture in virtual worlds. We welcome articles from academic researchers and practitioners in areas such as communications, sociology, psychology, anthropology, information systems, political science, game studies and cultural studies.

Topics of interest include (but not limited to):
• Definitions of Virtual Cultures
• Ethnographies of Virtual Worlds
• Social mechanics and networking in Virtual worlds
• Historical development of Virtual Worlds
• Identity
• Differing goals of play versus non-play centric spaces
• Emergent practices, player-generated content, activities
• Dynamics of economies
• “Serious” uses of Virtual Worlds
• Transnational game spaces, player groups

Guidelines and Deadlines
We welcome submissions in the form of essays, papers, original research, interactive online exhibits with accompanying detailed descriptions, and other forms of scholarship.
For specific submission instructions visit: http://jvwresearch.org

Deadline for Submission: September 30, 2008
Publication: November 29, 2008

For further information contact:

Mark Bell, Indiana U, typewriter@gmail.com
Mia Consalvo, Ohio U, consalvo@ohio.edu

About the Journal
The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is an online, open access academic journal that adheres to the highest standards of peer review and engages established and emerging scholars from around the world. The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is a transdisciplinary journal that engages a wide spectrum of scholarship and welcomes contributions from the many disciplines and approaches that intersect virtual worlds research.

Popularity: 28%

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M Linden is the New CEO of Linden Labs

April 23rd, 2008 | Category: Lindens, Press release, Second Life News, Virtual Worlds

As you may or may not know, Phillip Linden has announced the hiring of the new CEO for Linden Lab, Mark Kingdon, who has worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers as a partner and CEO of Organic. He will be known as M Linden and he will be focused on improving the in-world experience and stability and reliability of Second Life, something they should have been more focused on for years.

He is going to start on May 15th. Like I said when we started looking, I am not going anywhere, and will be working with Mark to help lead Linden and Second Life onward. I am really looking forward to working with him, as he has so many skills and capabilities that will help us and that I can also learn from - here are a few: He will have an intense focus on improving the in-world experience and stability and reliability of Second Life. He has extensive hands-on experience with user experience design, which will be critical in making Second Life an easier and better experience for more people. Finally, he has a ton of experience leading companies and products with global reach, which is now essential given that the great majority of Second Life usage is international and Linden Lab will continue to grow as an international company with offices in many locations. Source: Announcing our New CEO!

Read more

Popularity: 12%

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HiPiHi Uninstall Program Infects Your PC with a Trojan

December 19th, 2007 | Category: HiPiHi, Security, Virtual Worlds

I haven’t verified this myself yet, I guess I will have to install and then uninstall HiPiHi to know for sure, but, apparently they infect you with a Trojan when you uninstall their software, I guess in a shot to make some money off of you as you leave. In a post over at SLUniverse Forums, someone’s copy of AVG anti-spyware is detecting the uninstall file as being infected with Bifrose.YM backdoor Trojan, which is a keylogger/password sniffer.

I installed 40012 last night and my antivirus reports the presence of the Bifrose.YM backdoor Trojan, a keylogger and password sniffing program.

I told the antivirus program to ignore this warning. I am now getting warnings when using Hipihi.

There have been other reports of this sort about other versions of Hipihi, from folks that reported using antivirus programs other than the one I use. I use AVG from Grisoft. HiPiHi Infected With Trojan?

Here is a pic of the warning message from AVG, courtesy of SL Universe.

Do you like malware with your virtual world?

This isn’t new, apparently, as Wikipedia notes it in their write-up of HiPiHi, and they say this is no accident.

The uninstall routine of HIPIHI tends to be infected with a Trojan. With releases up to 30014 it was BDS/Bifrose.Gen from the Bifrost family. The new releases 40011 and 40012 feature the backdoor program Packed.64. The change indicates that the Trojan is deliberately inserted in the code. Source: HiPiHi Technical Issues

I don’t know about you all, but I like my real world and my virtual world malware and Trojan free, as word of this spreads either people will quit using it or the makers of HiPiHi will change their ways, but if no one knows, they will assume the Trojan or malware came from somewhere else if their computer doesn’t warn them. AVG is a good program, download a free copy here, and there are some good and free online scanners that might detect it, like Spywareguide and you can get a trial copy of CSI from Prevx.com, another good spyware detection program.

Popularity: 8%

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5th Part of History of Videogames to Feature Second Life

November 20th, 2007 | Category: Machinima, Media, RL Meets SL, Roleplay, Second Life Videos, TV, Virtual Worlds

According to posts from James Wagner Au, from New World Notes, and a guide from Geoff Keighley, from Kotaku.com, the Discovery Channel’s Guide to Videogames will feature a Second Life segment in Level Five, the fifth segment. The series will start this Wednesday, November 21st, 2007, at 8pm and continue until the fifth episode on Wednesday, December 19th at 8pm. From the guide posted at Kotaku:

Can a computer game make you cry? With the introduction of PlayStation 2’s “emotion engine” in 1999 game developers had the technology to enable deep, moving stories that tugged at gamers’ heartstrings. The rise of online virtual world games added another emotional dimension, letting players make real connections (including marriages) through a virtual game and helping them escape a world rife with violence and terror. Source: Discovery Channel to Air 5 Hour Videogame Documentary

The documentary will cover the entire history of the videogame industry, from the early 70’s when Atari ruled until today’s virtual worlds, with interviews of Ralph Baer, David Jaffe, Will Wright, Peter Molyneux, and Ken and Roberta Williams, who founded Sierra Online. The series will take a look at how the social and political climate shaped games and game designers throughout the piece. From New World Notes,

The in-world machinima for the SL segment is from the team of Silver and Goldie Goodman, and when they took footage of me at my office, had my avatar sign the virtual release form above. I’m looking forward to seeing this, totally apart from my minimal involvement in the production. Along with every other US-based Resident, I’m among the last to see it– judging by e-mails I’ve been getting about it, this past year, it’s already aired in the UK, Poland, China, and India. Source: Second Life to be featured on the Discovery Channel’s mini-series on videogames

So, apparently this has already aired over seas, and I will be looking forward to seeing it, and will catch, at a minimum, the Second Life, or virtual world portion of it.

Silver and Goldie Goodman produced the following video, Second Life: Get One, winner of the Second Life Trailer Contest.

Popularity: 14%

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More Second Life in Future for the Office

October 29th, 2007 | Category: RL Meets SL, TV, Virtual Worlds

Fans of Second Life may soon become fans of the Office, if they aren’t already, as articles from Tech Blorge and Second Life Insider mention more upcoming episodes with Second Life in them. This would make perfect sense as the some of the last of the Local Ad episode featured Jim’s avatar that he created and Pam giving him a hard time about buffing it up and making sure it looked like him. This would be a perfect way to mess with Dwight, like he does on most episodes, and it’s hard to imagine what kind of stuff they will come up with in the future.

They also have a little more info about the Local Ad episode that was on last week.

The episode was written by 28-year-old B.J. Novak (who also plays the show’s recently-promoted intern Ryan.) He written a line about an unhappy Dwight loving Second Life so much, he’d “created his own world. It’s called Second Second Life.

“For those people who want to be removed even further from reality.”

But he also included at least one line that suggested a real affection for the game, showing at least one way that a virtual life could fascinate an eccentric like Dwight.

“Absolutely everything was the same.

“Except I could fly.” Source: More Second Life pranks coming to The Office?

I myself will be watching for it as I usually try to catch the Office anyway.

Popularity: 10%

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EDUCAUSE Conference Hot Topics Discussion on Virtual Worlds

October 23rd, 2007 | Category: Conferences, Discussion, Education, Teaching, Virtual Worlds

What: EDUCAUSE Conference Hot Topics Discussion on Virtual Worlds

When: Thursday October 25, 2007 12:45 p.m. - 2:15 p.m

Where: Annenberg Island in Second Life

Description: As part of this year’s EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Seattle, there will be a Hot Topic Discussion on Virtual Worlds which will bring together those who want to discuss how virtual learning environments impact all facets of the institution. We are excited to announce that this years Hot Topic Discussion will be simulcast into Second Life.

Second Life URL.

Popularity: 12%

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What Are Kids Learning in Virtual Worlds?

October 23rd, 2007 | Category: Conferences, Education, Teaching, Virtual Worlds

Here is another real life event about virtual worlds, this one is in Southern California at the University of Southern California.

What: What Are Kids Learning in Virtual Worlds? The wonders and the worries.

When: Wednesday, November 14th, 6:00 p.m

Where: Davidson Conference Center, University of Southern California

Description: Club Penguin, Whyville, The Sims, Second Life.
You’ve heard these names, what do they mean for kids?
Hear from a panel of experts as they discuss:

What are kids really doing in virtual worlds? How are they learning? What does this mean for parents and educators?

A MacArthur Foundation/Common Sense Media Forum on Wednesday, November 14th at the Davidson Conference Center, University of Southern California, 5:30 Registration, 6:00-7:00 Panel Discussion, and 7:00-8:00 Reception and Tour of Virtual Worlds.

Featured Panel Participants: Introductory Remarks Julia Stasch, Anastasia Goodstein, Doug Thomas, Associate Professor, Yasmin B. Kafai, Associate Professor, Barry Joseph Director of Global Kids Inc and Moderated by Jim Steyer Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media.

To register: Registration is free, space is limited. Register before November 1 for complimentary event parking. We look forward to seeing you there!

Popularity: 8%

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Universal Avatars to Roam Virtual Worlds

October 10th, 2007 | Category: Standards, Virtual Worlds

In an announcement before the Virtual Worlds Conference actually began, IBM and Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life, have pledged to create Universal Avatars that will allow users to roam freely between all of the virtual worlds, like There.com, Gaia, Entropa and others, without having to create an avatar for each and every virtual world. This could be huge in getting people to start using more virtual worlds, or even just making the first trip inworld, as it would be easy to move from platform to platform until you found the right fit for you and your avatar.

The Internet is based on open standards, and closed systems like we have now will only slow down the adoption of these virtual worlds. Now if they could only make it easier for someone to make a nice looking avatar, if you need help with your avatar I know many people who can help, so drop a comment and I will put you in touch with someone.

Designing a detailed avatar can take well over an hour, so a closed system discourages customers from abandoning that investment. But it is also a barrier to growth since few people bother to start the process anew in multiple virtual worlds.

An open system would let people create one avatar that would keep the same basic appearance and customer data no matter where it was in cyberspace.

“It is going to happen anyway,” said Colin Parris, IBM vice president of digital convergence. “If you think you are walled and secure, somebody will create something that’s open and then people will drain themselves away as fast as possible.” Source: Second Life, IBM in open borders for virtual worlds

Yes, if these creators of the virtual worlds, like Linden Labs, don’t do it, someone else will, and if someone else can design an open system for everyone to use, then they can probably design a better virtual world as well. We have already seen many different companies creating their own clients for Second Life, such as the one mentioned in todays News post by the Electric Sheep Company, they will be launching this as part of the CSI:NY show that has a cast member going into Second Life. This new browser is supposed to mesh SL and the web better, with a back button for previous teleports as an example.

But such a virtual passport system may be years away, if it doesn’t first fall prey to the kind of conflicting interests that occasionally bog down efforts to draw up standards in the fast-changing technology industry.

IBM’s Parris said the effort would first focus on studying situations where the ability to travel between virtual worlds is most in demand. The nuts and bolts of how to make different software work together will come later.

IBM and Linden announced the partnership ahead of a virtual worlds conference that starts in San Jose, California on Wednesday and is expected to discuss the formation of industry standards and other issues. Source: Second Life, IBM in open borders for virtual worlds

Creating the standards will definitely be the most important and hardest part, as they have to operate between multiple systems and also allow for easy adoption by the newer platforms that will eventually become the latest virtual worlds.

The companies speak of “a truly interoperable 3D Internet.” Think of it as passports for avatars. So that pink-headed cutie you made for Second Life can also take up residence in There.com, The Lounge, Virtual Laguna Beach and Entropia, for example.
“Now, for every world I touch I have to build an avatar,” said Colin Parris, the I.B.M. vice president in charge of virtual world technology. “It’s an obstacle to the development and spread of virtual worlds, both in the consumer and corporate space.” Source: Free the Avatars

While there are many obstacles in getting a user to use Second Life, avatar creation and navigation are some of the biggest deterrents to adoption by new people who aren’t as technically savvy as others. As has been said before, what Second Life really needs is to be AOLified so that anyone and everyone can use it. Linden Labs is betting that they can pull in more users, in one statement they said that an open system will reward the most interesting worlds with new and repeat visitors, while the dull ones will leave for the better virtual worlds. Hopefully, it won’t go in the other direction for them, but, if everything is based on open standards, then it will certainly be easy to move to the most popular one.

Everett Linden has posted about this on the Second Life blog, calling it the next step in advancing virtual worlds.

In general, Linden Lab and IBM will collaborate on integrating virtual worlds and the current Web, improving the stability of the platform, increasing interoperability, securing transactions, and bringing us closer to the creation of universal avatars. Source: The Next Step Toward Advancing 3D Virtual Worlds

Popularity: 6%

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Architectural Wonders - Using Google to Create a Virtual World

October 09th, 2007 | Category: Virtual Worlds

The Multiverse Network is announcing a partnership today that will allow you to create a virtual world using Google Earth and Google’s 3D Warehouse, a repository of 3D models created using tools like Google Sketchup. So, say if a city has 3D models built of it’s buildings, you could create a virtual world from them, almost instantly using this new technology. They are planning on showing Architectural Wonders at the Virtual Worlds conference tomorrow in San Jose, California.

“The goal is to grab things from the 3D Warehouse when looking at things in Google Earth and then make an instant multiverse world,” said Multiverse co-founder Corey Bridges. “What we’ve done is provide a more streamlined interface for using (Google’s technology) as a virtual-world production tool.”

For Paffendorf, one of the most vocal proponents of a 3D massively multiplayer environment based on Google Earth and SketchUp information, Multiverse’s innovation is nothing short of groundbreaking.

He said he’s particularly excited and hopeful that the Architectural Wonders project will allow virtual-world designers to incorporate not just models and terrain from Google Earth, but also much of the metadata that makes it so powerful: the personal notations and photographs that millions of users have added to it. Source: Google tools to power virtual worlds

The thing that caught my eye was the fact that one server could support thousands of users, so, you could almost instantly create a virtual world that would support many users. I hesitate to compare it to Second Life and the fact that most sims can’t support even 100 avatars until I see it for myself, as I don’t want to compare apples to oranges, but this sounds very interesting indeed.

Popularity: 6%

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The Yankee Group and Second Grade Math

October 06th, 2007 | Category: Poor Journalism, Virtual Worlds

I posted links to some news articles in the previous days news posts about the “research” the Yankee Group releases recently about Second Life and how it’s hype does not match the market impact. They posted a document that was titled “Wither Second Life?”, that “detailed” the decline of the growth of Second Life and how the user engagement, or, more simply, the time users spend in Second Life, is only 12 minutes a month. The document is no longer live on their website, as they have pulled it offline and I didn’t save a copy of it and strangely enough, there doesn’t seem to be a Google cache of that webpage, and I didn’t read the whole thing when it first came out. I know, I’m slacking.

Anyway, I’ll just make a wrap-up post here and talk about what everyone else did or didn’t say.

The report centered around the fact that Second Life is PC Centered and not focused on the mobile world and that companies that provide better access, or remote access, to mobile phones and other mobile devices, will have a greater impact. I guess it mostly boils down to the fact that this company wants to be considered experts in research and on the anywhere consumers. Check this quote from their website:

Our Methodology Is the Yankee Group Way
Over the past 35 years Yankee Group has learned a few things about research. As the first-ever independent technology research and consulting firm, it’s fair to say Yankee Group invented technology research and has been perfecting its practice ever since. Source: Yankee Group Link Research

Invented technology research. Uh huh.

Anyway, lots of media sites just jumped on the bandwagon and repeated what they said, check these links.

Study: Second Life’s Growth Slows .

Second Life Hype Outweighs Impact on Mainstream Interactive Activity

Shock: Second Life is all hype says study

Study: Second Life Over hyped This one even adds a no replies from Linden Labs at this time at the end of it.

But, lots of Second Life blogs jumped on the some of the facts that they quoted, especially the one that said the average time in Second Life was 12 minutes, lol. Check these links.

Yankee No How: Head scratching over analyst’s strange Second Life usage claims In terms of active monthly recurring users, in October 2006 it was about 150,000; last couple months, it’s been about 550,000. The “twelve minutes per month” claim is the strangest, because according to the Lindens’ published demographics, on average, active monthly users are in-world between 42 to 58 hours per month.

Let’s do the math - Yankee Group can’t seem to Looking back through figures for prior months, I can’t actually find a set of figures that they could have used to get their statement from. Maybe something from a year ago? Maybe something from another MMO by mistake? Back of a bar coaster? Or maybe they mixed it up with a website.

Either way, I’ve got to call bullshit on the 12 minutes number. It looks like complete rubbish.

Even the folks from Second Life jumped on that number with their post about it.

Second Grade Math So, just what is that 12 minutes per month number?? As near as we can tell, that might be the average time that users spent logged in on the Second Life website in a month. Or . . . could it be . . . the 6.2 million unique user registrations divided by 23 million hours is close to 12 minutes . . . but that makes no sense - is it possible that anyone would have done the division backwards??

Many more have also commented, too many to mention here. They pulled the article, according to Virtual World News, because the numbers were wrong and they want to revisit that particular article. They should’ve pulled the press release too, but, I bet they get more traffic to it that leads to more of their professional research. But, they say, the basic facts of the article remain the same.

“There’s been quite a bit of interest there, and a concern of ours is that a couple data points in the piece appear to be overshadowing the thesis of the piece, which was a focus on mobility and how a PC-centric or tethered experience challenges virtual worlds for mainstream adoption,” Christopher Collins told VirtualWorldsNews.com.

“There are potentially two issues here,” he said. “One, did we do a disservice? That was not the intention. Beyond that, in doing so, did we distract people from the point of the article? We’re not really in the business of monitoring the blogosphere because we oftentimes have to make unpopular comments about things. But what I did observe is that there has been less debate about what we hope the point was and more focus on a supporting point.”

At the time of our conversation, he hadn’t read Linden’s response. Since the Yankee Group had been in communication with Linden Lab beforehand, he believes the post may have been the result of miscommunication.
Source: Linden Lab Labels Yankee Group’s Report “Second Grade Math”

Of course he’s going to say he didn’t see the blog post from Linden Labs yet, because then he would have to comment on it, and, as you can see from the quote, they don’t comment on stuff, probably because just having these articles out there will help them in their main focus of getting people to believe they are experts in their field. I know many people who started out not knowing their ass form a hole in the ground and ended up being experts because of all the stuff they created that said they were. This is more of the same crap.

The basic premise is off because they are comparing a virtual world, Second Life, to Facebook and Myspace, which are social networks. Second Life is an interactive medium which probably won’t ever lend itself to mobile phones well, while Facebook and Myspace are websites and are easily translatable to mobile phones.

Popularity: 6%

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Law & Order SVU, Avatar and Alternate, or Another, Youniverse

October 03rd, 2007 | Category: RL Meets SL, TV, Virtual Worlds

I just caught part of the Law & Order SVU episode called Avatar, that centered on a virtual reality called Alternate Youniverse, I believe, they referred to it as AY most of the time and I thought I heard the female lead call it Another Youniverse, but, I’ve been wrong before. The similarities to Second Life were all over the place, they referred to it as AY, like we refer to Second Life as SL, the avatars were pretty similar, they could create, control, buy, and sell, just like in Second Life, although, I don’t recall seeing many inworld clips to see how the avatars moved around, etc. They had a video from the kidnapped girl in AY talking about her stalker and fearing for her life, guess what she did in AY? She ran a prostitution ring/strip club, and had virtual customers from around the world.

What I saw of the show was pretty good, it didn’t seem to make fun of the AY members, at least that I saw, which was a plus, although, the residents they did show weren’t cream of the crop, but, what can you expect on a show called Special Victims Unit? They are bound to be dirt bags and people that lean in that direction. The show wasn’t spectacular, but it was interesting.

While you’re here, subscribe to our feed, and check out the latest interaction between Second Life and TV, CSI: NY and the OnRez Second Life Viewer. The Electric Sheep Company have even created a new, open source, easier to use Second Life Viewer for the occasion. This could be a huge moment for Second Life and ESC.

Popularity: 8%

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Law & Order: SVU Episode: Avatar

October 01st, 2007 | Category: RL Meets SL, TV, Virtual Worlds

I just saw an ad on TV for Law & Order SVU (Special Victims Unit) called Avatar, and apparently it involves a virtual world like Second Life, but it didn’t name which one, and I haven’t caught the commercial again to be able to tell for sure, I just caught the tail end of it. On the shows website, it lists nothing about the show other than what it is called and what time it is one, so it may be worth tuning into, and it may not.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Episode: Avatar TV-14 DV 10/9c 10.02.07 A woman involved in virtual reality video games goes missing, and her “avatar” is at the root of the investigation.

Update: More here.

While you’re here, subscribe to our feed, and check out the latest interaction between Second Life and TV, CSI: NY and the OnRez Second Life Viewer. The Electric Sheep Company have even created a new, open source, easier to use Second Life Viewer for the occasion. This could be a huge moment for Second Life and ESC.

Popularity: 6%

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