I'm interviewed briefly as part of this, but that has nothing to do with the fact that it's a very well-done in-depth story. :) One of the more nuanced and thoughtful press pieces I've heard on the subject.
Wow this is a busy week! While little in this article in the Guardian is particularly new, especially to those of us who track these things, what is interesting is the critical mass the article portrays. Naturally, it has the usual hypey tone of these things. I would be surprised if this reporter had actually visited any of the virtual worlds in question. However, it's interesting to hear claims like "virtual worlds will create 10,000 jobs in China" and "Second Life...claims to have created the equivalent of 6,000 full-time jobs." Also, note the sub-heading: "People to work from home in an alternate reality." These tidbits speak to the conflation of work and play that a number of us have been taking about for the past year or so.
Thanks to Jacki Morie for bringing to our attention the Beta Launch of HiPiHi, a product that everyone is calling the "Chinese Second Life Clone." I noticed a comment about it in TerraNova from March: "Why don't you meatheads start researching and writing about what everyone is currently buzzing about? Namely, did HiPiHi really steal SL's code to make their virtual world?" (Jeff) It was also blogged around the same time by Raph Koster, who recommends an article by Bjorn Lee comparing the two.
An interesting article from February about a new peer-to-peer virtual world,
Outback Online, which seems to be competing with Second Life. The peer-to-peer aspect is ingriguing. Anybody know if this is a real thing or just hype?
As many people are already aware, IBM has been tinkering with Second Life as an alternative space for distributed work. (See C-Net: IBM Breaks Groud in Second Life) Now, according to Clickable Culture,
IBM is rolling its own Virtual World, as described in this article sent to me by Bonnie Nardi of UC Irvine. It's interesting to note that for smaller groups, Torque seems to accommodate about the same number as a Second Life Island. They also cite Torque as an alternative to Multiverse, which I guess is okay if you're IBM and have the resources to build your own back-end!
A new study by comScore indicates that Europeans Predominate in Second Life. The cultural ramifications of this are significant. For some time I've characterized Second Life as a kind of Virtual Amsterdam, a progressive party atmosphere where pretty much anything goes. This revelation certainly underscores some vastly different cultural attitudes encountered in Second Life, especially about sex, but about other things as well.
There is a very interesting article in today’s Salon gay marriage in MMOGs, Why can't gay dwarves get married in Middle-earth? The article was surprisingly well-informed and they covered some key issues I thought very well. One interesting data point that was entirely unsurprising was the number of players who reported overhearing homophobic remarks in games. As we all know, the term “gay” is used regularly as a perjorative, lending a kind of pubescent playground atmosphere to some game communities.
At IMGDC (which was clearly the place to be), both Celia and I had a chance to sit down with Jon Wood, managing editor at MMORPG, a major site for all things MMO. If you're curious about Celia's presentation of Mermaids and some of her innovative design goals, you will find the writeup of her IMGDC talk here. Jon also had a chance to sit down with me to talk Multiverse, so if you want to find out more about what we're up to with the platform, that's here. Thanks Jon!