US Army Invades Second Life

December 4, 2008 -

Can Delta Force defend against the Flying Penis?

We may find out soon. Wired's Danger Room blog reports that the US Army is planning to set up shop in Second Life. Gen. William Wallace (left), who leads the Army's Training and Doctrine Command, said at a recent conference:

Over the next thirty to forty-five days you might, if you’re one of them Second Life avatar dudes, that likes to go populate islands within Second Life, you will find an Army island in Second Life.

GP: While the Army is dealing with a recruitment problem, Second Life doesn't seem like a cost-effective way to solve it. First, SL is so 2006 - the buzz is clearly gone. Second, even in Second Life's heyday its significance was overhyped. Finally, the offbeat SL crowd seems far removed from the Army's typical recruitment pool.

Still, there are virtual items to be had. Gen. Wallace told Wired:

If you perform well in the activities you get points and those points can be used to buy virtual tee-shirts and baseball caps.

12 comments

Second Life Lacks Buzz, Reuters Bails

November 26, 2008 -

It was with much fanfare that  Reuters opened a virtual office in Second Life in 2006.

The news service has since comes to grips with an essential truth about SL: It never lived up to its hype.

As UK paper The Register notes, Reuters has closed its Second Life Bureau and pulled embedded reporter Adam Pasick aka Adam Reuters out of SL's metaverse, assigning him to, one presumes, more tangible duties. A Reuters spokesperson told The Register:

We're still reporting on Second Life, but only as part of our usual tech and media coverage.

Meanwhile, Silicon Alley Insider has a first-person account from Eric Krangel, the original Reuters staffer assigned to SL:

Is Second Life dying? No, but the buzz is gone...

 

It's hard to say what, if anything, Linden Lab can do to make Second Life appeal to a general audience. The very things that most appeal to Second Life's hardcore enthusiasts are either boring or creepy for most people: Spending hundreds of hours of effort to make insignificant amounts of money selling virtual clothes, experimenting with changing your gender or species, getting into random conversations with strangers from around the world, or having pseudo-nonymous sex (and let's not kid ourselves, sex is a huge draw into Second Life)...

 

It was about as fun as watching paint dry.

GP: There are so many jokes one can make about Second Life. Our favorite? Chris Williams of The Register writes:

Last one to leave, turn off the flying penis.

8 comments

"Series of Tubes" Senator (and crook) Ted Stevens Concedes Election

November 20, 2008 -

Following more than two weeks of counting ballots, Ted Stevens, the 85-year-old Republican Senator from Alaska, has conceded the Nov. 4th election to Democrat Mark Begich.

The Seattle Times reports that Stevens' concession came by way of a written statement issued yesterday.

Among gamers, Stevens is best known for a rambling 2006 attempt to describe the Internet in which he referred to it as "a series of tubes." He was lampooned over the remarks in a Mario-like video (left).

When Democrat Mark Warner made an appearance in Second Life later that year, one SL resident showed up in a tube-like avatar (left) intended to mock Stevens.

Stevens was recently convicted of corruption charges by federal prosecutors.

24 comments

Obama's FCC Transition Team Has MMO Background

November 19, 2008 -

The co-chair of President-elect Barack Obama's FCC transition team is a World of Warcraft geek.

That word comes by way of GigaOm, where Wagner James Au writes that Wharton Prof. Kevin Werbach (left), a Net Neutrality advocate is steering the Obama team's takeover of the FCC (presumably between WoW raids).

In fact, Werbach belongs to a pair of WoW guilds. He wrote of his gaming in a 2006 blog post:

I play Warcraft because it’s fun. It’s taking time away from watching TV, reading books, and other entertainment pursuits. But I’m also playing because I believe MMOGs will be one of the primary forms of social software for the next decade. Defined broadly, they may become the dominant form of social software. And you can’t understand games without experiencing them first-hand...

 

What [WoW] does is provide an incentive for people to develop new software and ideas for collaborative production. Many of those ideas will translate to other group activities, including those within the business world...

As Au notes, Werbach's WoW experience is a plus, since online gamers have a major stake in the Net Neutrality issue. Also of note, Werbach's co-chair, Michigan Prof. Susan Crawford, is an admirer of Second Life:

Professor Crawford, a board member at ICANN, also counts herself “a huge fan of Second Life” for the way it lets users retain IP rights to their content (though she confesses to difficulty when it comes to moving her SL avatar around.)

GP: We're dying to know - does Werbach play Horde or Alliance?

38 comments

Election Night in Second Life

November 6, 2008 -

While GP was glued to old school CNN for news of this year's presidential voting, Bixyl Shuftan recaps what election night was like in the Second Life metaverse for the Second Life Newspaper:

Princess Ivory had this to say, “Do you all realize that this is a historic election not just for the US, but for SL? 4 years ago SL wasn't as popular. In the past, we would gather with our neighbors and family in the living room and watch the election results on television. Now we sit and watch our avatars sit together, and listen to the BBC broadcast from another window. Incredible..."

Checking the Obama HQ, they had set up some bright glow-balls, bathing the interior of the building in light. And with victory declared, many were dancing away...

Then a couple came in, telling everyone they had just been banned from the Straight Talk Cafe, saying they ran through the place naked...

GP: Only in SL...

11 comments

Second Life: Interactive Map Shows Real-time Polling Data

October 29, 2008 -

Is McCain gaining ground on Obama? 

Is Obama surging ahead?

Second Life users can check out the latest presidential poll data, thanks to a clever, interactive polling map created by Steve Nelson, who also devised the SL-Twitter mashup we reported on earlier this month.

At his Clear Night Sky blog, Steve describes some of the tech behind his latest creation:

Capitol Hill in Second Life continues to draw visitors from around the world interested in the political season... I’ve added an electoral map that shows most recent polling on a state-by-state basis...

I may channel my inner Brokaw and use the map in manual mode on election night, or I might challenge myself to quickly find a site that can be Dapper-scraped and feed the board automatically.

5 comments

Second Life for Islamic World?

October 23, 2008 -

TechCrunch reports that Muxlim.com, a Muslim social network is readying the launch of a virtual world similar to Second Life. It is expected that IP censors in some Islamic nations will allow an MMO in which avatars wear Muslim garb and worship in prayer rooms.

From TechCrunch:

Although there are well over one billion people who identify themselves as Muslim, I see this site as appealing primarily to slightly more ‘westernised’ Muslim world...

 

Ashar Saeed, vice-president of Muxlim.com reckons that by setting up a Muslim virtual world they’ll be able to attract sponsorship from the likes of brands like Coca-Cola, which already advertise in other online worlds.

Via: Kotaku

12 comments

Blogger: Why Gamers Should Back Obama

October 13, 2008 -

Well-known Second Life blogger Rik Panganiban has unabashedly come out for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

In a post titled Barack FTW 11/4! -- Why Gamers Should Back Obama, Panganiban writes:

I think it's high time that people get past this notion of gamers as passive couch potatoes divorced from the world around them. I've seen gamers raise thousands of dollars for worthwhile causes like Penny Arcade's "Child's Play" charity and games for US troops overseas. 

 

Gamers can be ardent defenders of Net Freedom or even protestors for Chinese nationalism.  Heck, they have their own blog devoted to politics.

Among Panganiban's reasons for backing the Obama ticket (these are his words):

  • Obama Groks the Power of the Internet: ...No, [Obama] didn't invent the Blackberry, but he does understand that the Gamer Generation connects with each other in substantially different ways than generations before.
  • Obama Defends Net Freedom: ...The ability of next-gen game developers to create online games depends on a vibrant and open internet environment, unfettered by artificially throttled and filtered access.
  • Obama Knows We Need Broadband: ...you know how sucky it is to play Halo over a sketchy internet connection... 
  • Obama Supports Stronger Math & Science in Schools: America lags way behind the rest of the industrialized world in math and science aptitude in its high schools...
  • Obama Totally Pwns in Unreal Tournament:  He's the only player I know who can go head to head in a Scavenger against a Fury equipped with Berserk and come out ahead.  Talk about presidential.  (Ok, maybe I made that up. But I hear his Wii Bowling score is 278.)

Rik is having some fun with that last bit. Actually, as GamePolitics has reported, Obama remarked publicly that the last game he played was Pong.

GP: If an established game blog presents a case for the McCain ticket, we'll gladly publish that as well.

45 comments

Teens Watch, Discuss McCain-Obama Debate in Second Life

October 8, 2008 -

A group of 28 teens gathered in Second Life for last night's presidential debate, reports The Click Heard Round the World:

The teens were fairly bored during the economy and health care portion of the debate.  But they perked right up once the candidates starting talking foreign policy.  Several of them were interested in Darfur and human rights.  A couple were concerned about college tuition costs. 

 

All in all, I thought this was an effective way of getting teenagers to be more engaged with the political process. I think they felt more comfortable being in a setting with a bunch of their peers rather than in a roomful of adults.  Several of them seemed genuinely concerned about certain issues and got to express that to each other over the text chat.  And they got to have fun, often at the expense of one of the candidates, but that's to be expected.

Holymeatballs has expanded coverage, including some of the students' reactions to the debate as expressed via SL's chat feature.

Surprisingly, only one of the teens seemed to take notice of McCain's bizarre reference to Obama as "That one."

UPDATE: A World of Warcraft player mentions that the debate was also a hot topic in the general chat on the Silvermoon server.

41 comments

Second Life Twitter Mashup Shows Tweets About Candidates

October 4, 2008 -

Second Life users can now follow what Twitter users are saying about the presidential tickets.

Steve Nelson of SL's Capitol Hill area writes:

I've installed a new display at Capitol Hill in Second Life that streams Twitter tweets about candidates.  The tweets float above columns, and are refreshed every minute with a search for Obama, Biden, McCain or Palin. You can also talk to the display to get the latest tweets about an individual candidate. Touch a column, and you get the original post on Twitter that you can use to follow links, etc...

 

As for me, joining the discussion in Second Life, with an eye on the Twitter election channel, and another eye on my TV, makes my head explode.
 

11 comments

Presidential Debate Festivities in Second Life

September 29, 2008 -

Hopefully, you found time to watch Friday's presidential debate between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama. Perhaps you even viewed it from within Second Life.

Over at The Click Heard Round the World Rik Panganiban checked out the SL presence of both camps during the debate:

The McCain viewing party was held in a beachside setting at the "Straight Talk Cafe" build... It was a festive event, with avatars dancing, sipping beverages, and lounging on beach chairs as they watched the debate from their TVs and laptops at home.  About 25 avatars were in attendance...

 

The Obama camp's debate watching party took place at "Obama/Biden Lounge at Hope Beach...  About 30-some avatars were in attendance. Their impressions were nearly opposite those of the McCain camp...

 

Obviously this was a very small subset of both candidates' supporters.  What I observed was a lot of preaching to the choir and one-sided views of their candidates.  There was no real dialogue across the aisle, nor was there intended to be... I think it's a useful reminder that no matter the political figure, one person's angel is another person's demon.

2 comments

Swift Kick Moms for Truth: Machinima with a Presidential Twist

September 25, 2008 -

Over at BlipTV we found this:

"Swift Kick Moms for Truth" is a one-minute “machinima” video featuring virtual versions of Obama’s grandma and McCain’s mother scolding the candidates for their deceptive ads. Lead-in by virtual Tom Brokaw.

 

Created in the Second Life virtual world by Machinima by Silver and Goldie, with voice artist Mark Winston.

The title, of course, harkens back to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth group, which trashed John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid. The term "swiftboating" has since become part of the language, denoting a smear campaign.

This video, however, is both non-partisan and just for fun.

1 comment

Where are the Second Life Republicans?

September 24, 2008 -

Over at The Click Heard Round the World, Second Life devotee Rik Panganiban wonders why Democrats seem to far outnumber Republicans in SL's online world.

Panganiban, who goes by Rik Riel in-game, is a self-identified Obama supporter and notes that the Democratic presidential candidate topped a recent SL poll by a 2:1 margin over Republican John McCain.

Panganiban also notes that McCain's SL presence, "Straight Talk Cafe" is usually deserted and seems to be malfunctioning. He writes:

Looking at the Second Life resident-organized groups, there does appear to be a larger support base for Obama, with 1,300 residents in the "Obama for President" group, compared to only 300-some residents in the largest McCain for President group...

 

Given the fact that Obama and McCain have been in a virtual deadheat in the real world polls, what is the deal with Second Life?  Are there more progressive, liberal folks flocking to the virtual world?  Is it the age group that tends to dominate SL, the late-20s / mid-30s demographic? 

 

I found this all kind of sad.  Although I'm an Obama supporter, I would love to talk with McCain boosters about his policies, particularly his positions on foreign policy and the United Nations. Does McCain support closing Gitmo?  Would he fully fund efforts to stop the scourge of AIDS in Africa?  I really want to know, and I would want to know if his supporters care about these things.

37 comments

9/11 Memorial Held in Second Life

September 12, 2008 -

A 9/11 remembrance was held in Second Life yesterday on the seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.

As reported by The Click Heard Round the World

There were 70-80 other avatars present... Most folks sat on the grass in respectful silence, restricting communication to instant messages.  A couple of avatars in soldier's uniforms stood at attention. Believe it or not, it means a lot for a bunch of avatars to sit in silence.  It just never happens...

 

On the audio stream, starting at 8:45AM EST (when the first tower was hit) and for several hours afterwards, the names of all the victims of 9/11 were read out by various members of the Second Life community... You could hear people's voices breaking in the midst of reading the seemingly endless list of those lost...

 

68 comments

Former Secretary of State Makes Second Life Appearance

September 11, 2008 -

The Click Heard Round the World has a recap of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's Second Life appearance yesterday. Albright was streamed into SL by way of a live video feed:

The LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin hosted an address by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. I got to watch and participate in this event at the GSD&M Idea City Island Amphitheatre in Second Life... It was a good crowd for a foreign policy talk, with 50-some avatars present in-world.

 

I asked Ms. Albright about her thoughts on the role of the United States in relation to the International Criminal Court... I loved Madeleine Albright's closing words: "This is exactly the kind of interchange, both in first life and Second Life, that will allow us to figure our way through the 21st century in a better way."


 

18 comments

Obama Fundraiser To Be Held in Second Life

September 9, 2008 -

Can online games serve as a vehicle for campaign financing?

We may find out, given that an upcoming Second Life event is designed to raise money for the Obama campaign. As detailed by Midcourt, the virtual fundraiser will take place next Sunday from 4-7pm Pacific time. A DJ will be playing music and supporters can leave money in donation boxes.

Planners of the Obama event hope to raise 100,000 Lindens, SL's in-game currency. That would be about $380 at current exchange rates. That's not exactly the kind of money that will push a candidate over the top, so the event is probably more significant as an experiment in virtual political fundraising.

9 comments

Woman Tries to Kidnap Her Second Life Boyfriend - Twice

August 23, 2008 -

A 33-year-old North Carolina postal worker is under arrest after she traveled to Delaware in an attempt to kidnap the 50-something man who jilted her on Second Life.

As Destructoid reports, Kimberly Jernigan's romance with the man ended shortly after they met in real life:

...in the beginning of August, Kimberly allegedly drove to her ex-boyfriend's Pennsylvania workplace and attempted to kidnap the man at gunpoint. Apparently she couldn't even manage that successfully, and had to come back two weeks later and track him down to his Delaware home...

 

she lay in wait for him with a set of handcuffs, a roll of duct tape, a taser, a BB gun and her dog Gogi. Her foolproof scheme failed after the man simply ran away, having entered to find a laser beam pointed at his chest. Kimberley had fled soon after, but her dog was discovered bound in duct tape and abandoned in the bathroom to stop him making noise. She was found an hour later in Maryland and taken into custody after a "brief struggle" at a rest stop.
 

GP: Wait. She duct-taped the dog

Video reports here...

82 comments

Second Life Largely Ignored by Obama, McCain Campaigns

August 18, 2008 -

At one time, Second Life was viewed as having great potential for promoting political campaigns.

However, the Houston Chronicle points out that in the current presidential election, Barack Obama and John McCain have largely ignored the SL metaverse:

Campaigns haven't figured out how to reconcile the all-important image and fundraising with a world in which a Gothic nymph can sit in on a congressional hearing - or a Teddy bear might try to donate to a political campaign.

 

So for now, the Second Life campaign headquarters of Barack Obama and John McCain are pristine, glistening and completely vacant most of the time...

 

Fundraising is still not an option in Second Life, as there is no way to monitor where the donations are coming from, and the majority of players are from outside the U.S.

Julie Germany of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet told the Chronicle:

It's been written about in fiction and cyberpunk, this idea that these online worlds could actually be used for political purposes, whether it is to recruit supporters, or train people to take action or to fund raise. It just hasn't exploded the way other online tools have exploded.

Former congressional aide Nancy Scola, who was involved in former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner's much-discussed 2006 visit to SL (screenshot at left), added that options like Facebook, YouTube and MySpace are dominating the online side of politics:

All the air's been sucked out of the room... If you're working inside a campaign, your single goal is to get your guy in the White House.  It doesn't leave a lot of room and motivation to play with new technology. Why mess with what's working?
 

16 comments

Congressman's Political Pressure Impacting Second Life Child Avatars

June 2, 2008 -

Congressional pressure applied by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has apparently gotten the attention of Linden Lab, operators of popular MMO Second Life.

GamePolitics readers will recall that Kirk lashed out at Second Life last month, accusing the game of offering inadequate safeguards to prevent underage users from wandering into the seedier corners of the game:

Sites like Second Life offer no protections to keep kids from virtual "rape rooms," brothels, and drug stores. If sites like Second Life won't protect kids from obviously inappropriate content, the Congress will.

A post on the Second Life Children blog indicates that Kirk's charges have already forced some changes on the SL community. Apparently, players who use child avatars will not be allowed to participate officially in the upcoming Second Life 5th Birthday (SL5B) celebration on June 23rd. Blogger Loki Eliot writes:

Last night [we] met with the Linden assigned to the organising of [SL5B]... we have unfortunitly [sic]been told we will not be allowed to represent or promote our community... From what we could understand the reason being that Linden Lab (LL) do not want the world to see our community being sponsored by them in the current climate of hysteria created by a certain US politician. This MAY also mean that Child Avatars will NOT be allowed at the SL5B celebrations.

While shocked and disappointed that LL have decided to exclude us from such a celebration of everything in SL, I ask everyone in the Child Avatar community to stay strong and to not seek retribution. I reluctantly acknowledge that LL want us to lay low until the smoke of Real World Politics blows over or risk the entire world of Second Life being torn down by uneducated Politicians seeking fame and glory.

 

A number of Second Life bloggers are up in arms about the Linden Lab exclusions from SL5B which also extend to a pair of sexually-themed SL communities. Ruslan Laryukov, a commenter on the Daniel Regenbogen blog writes:

I find it doubly regrettable that LL has lumped the kids community - in my experience one of the nicest, smartest and *least* sexual communities within SL - together with gor and bdsm... I simply resent the insinuation that the kid community is centered around sex, because that is just false... Most of us just want to be young and happy again, to release our inner child, to re-experience our youth with the good stuff - and without the bad stuff, which, for some of us was really bad.

GP: I'll confess to not having much knowledge of Second Life in general or the child avatar community in particular. But it's startling to see how quickly a few harsh words from a single congressman can cause changes with the SL community.

24 comments

Tivo Alert: Playing to Win on CNBC Tonight

May 29, 2008 -

CNBC will air Playing to Win at 10 p.m. Eastern tonight.

The show features a look at the video game violence issue, a trip inside EA, a segment on Games for Health and more.

If you miss it, Playing to Win will be repeated on Sunday at 9 p.m.

24 comments

Second Life's Flying Phalluses Inspire Real-World Political Prank

May 20, 2008 -

The griefers of Second Life are known for launching bizarre animated attacks against their in-game victims. Perhaps the most famous form of SL animated mayhem is - no delicate way to write this - the flying penis attack.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that some Russian pranksters apparently adapted the Second Life stunt to disrupt a real-world political meeting in Moscow. From the newspaper report:

The meeting was being address by Russian chess champion turned Kremlin critic, Garry Kasparov, when a remote-controlled flying penis flew through the room... The device - which appeared to be a modified twin-rotor toy helicopter - caused an immediate commotion.

 

A video taken at the event shows the chopper briefly evading capture before a man later identified as a security guard leaps from the stage and swats the device with a left hook... According to the Moscow Times website, the prank was staged by "a couple of pro-Kremlin Young Russia activists" who had launched a "plastic phallus on propellers".

 

22 comments

Congressman's Second Life Concerns Lampooned

May 17, 2008 -

Recently, GamePolitics reported on efforts by Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) to regulate Second Life over concerns about "toilet sex" and other adult content.

Rep. Kirk's efforts have not gone unnoticed by Second Life satirist General JC Christian, who pens an open letter to the Congressman:

I imagine that with the strength of the economy, our rising standard of living, the Floridization of our climate, and the success we're experiencing in Iraq and Afghanistan, it must be very tough to be a congressman these days. There just aren't a lot of pressing problems left to address. I mean you can't vote for torture and domestic spying every day.

That's why I'm glad you're putting so much effort into solving the problem of toilet sex in Second Life... I spend a lot of time on SL, but it never occurred to me that toilet sex even occurred there. So imagine my surprise when I discovered a monument to toilet sex, the Larry Craig Center, not more than 50 meters from my SL GOP Headquarters...

GP: In case you can't place the name, Larry Craig is the Republican Senator from Idaho who was arrested last year for soliciting sex in an airport men's room.

23 comments

More on Congressman's Campaign to Regulate Second Life

May 12, 2008 -
Recently GamePolitics reported that Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) had called upon the Federal Trade Commission to issue a parental alert regarding online game Second Life.

A local political blog has more, written from a decidely pro-Kirk perspective:
As usual, Congressman Kirk was extremely impressive... He began the interview by talking about his concern over the Internet alternate universe of "Second Life," which Kirk views as an uncontrolled and fertile ground for Internet predators due to insufficient age controls and restrictions.

A lot of people are paying attention to this important issue, and this week I have read numerous pieces, mostly on the blogs, that seem to be either strongly supportive of Kirk's efforts, or strongly against Kirk's stand. Among those who support Kirk are parents...

The ones who are critical of Kirk fall mainly into two camps: first, people who are either big fans of Second Life or similar games, or are somehow involved in the Internet gaming industry (and thus seem to be very defensive against what they perceive as government over-regulation); and, second, the usual anti-Kirk crowd who dismiss this as a political stunt.

Kirk spoke about Second Life on a local TV news program: 
Parents should be worried about one of the fastest growing websites on the planet called Second Life. It's the next level up from MySpace, a fully interactive 3-D experience... I'm worried that they don't properly screen for children...

I contacted Second Life to say maybe we should have some minimum standards here but they responded by sending their $60,000 a year K Street lobbyist to tell me everything was okay...

GP: Who can argue with with protecting children from predators? On the other hand, we have to wonder how much of a problem this really is on Second Life. It's certainly not the most action-oriented game going and would seemingly have little attraction for younger players. Perhaps some of our SL-savvy readers will weigh with their thoughts on this issue.
69 comments

Illinois Congressman Sees Threat to Children in Second Life

May 6, 2008 -
Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) has called upon the Federal Trade Commission to issue an alert regarding what he says is a potential risk to children who play the popular online game Second Life

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, Kirk said:
If you ask: Do you know about MySpace? The average parent will say yes. But the average parent doesn't know anything about Second Life...

Sites like Second Life offer no protections to keep kids from virtual "rape rooms," brothels, and drug stores. If sites like Second Life won't protect kids from obviously inappropriate content, the Congress will.

Mt. Prospect, Illinois Mayor Irvana Wilks echoed Kirk's concerns:
This Second Life is a new scare, unchartered territory. It hits home.

GP: We note that Rep. Kirk is currently running for re-election.

UPDATE: News.com has more...
96 comments

Video: A Supporter Promotes Barack Obama on Second Life

April 22, 2008 -
Last week GamePolitics reported on virtual clashes between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama supporters which have been occurring within Second Life.

Today we have an ABC News video report on how a Chicago attorney is using Second Life to support his Obama, his candidate of choice.



Via: Tropophilia 
7 comments

Obama, Clinton Supporters Battle in Second Life

April 18, 2008 -
As the crucial Pennsylvania primary draws near, competition between Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is heating up in real life as well as Second Life's virtual world.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, SL's Obama and Clinton supporters have been griefing one another of late:
The trouble began in March 2007, when Obama supporters held a rally... [other avatars] raided the virtual Obama headquarters. They littered it with T-shirts, posters and signs sporting anti-Obama messages or expressing support for Sen. Clinton and Republican contender Rep. Ron Paul...

During a November rally at the unofficial virtual Clinton beachfront headquarters, supposed Obama supporters hid under a dock and then emerged with signs, shouting via connected headsets and shooting at people... it's unclear if the disruptors were actually from the Obama camp...

Last month, virtual gunmen disrupted a planned Obama march, shooting and pushing people around. That knocked some marchers offline... The Obama group responded by teleporting... to the CNN hub... to hold their rally. But soon images of a Clinton campaign poster and a clip of Sen. Obama next to a photo of Osama bin Laden were flying all over the screen...
40 comments

Daily Show Lampoons Congressional Second Life Hearing

April 8, 2008 -
Last week, GamePolitics reported on a congressional subcommittee's visit to Second Life.

Last night, on The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart had some fun with the subcommittee hearing video as the assembled U.S. representatives tried to sound knowledgeable about the wonders and/or horrors of virtual worlds.

Stewart, of course, had some funny lines:
Virtual world hearings! It's official. Congress has given up on the actual world...

Look, nobody doubts that terrorists use the Internet. But I don't think that Osama bin Laden is in the basement of his mom's cave, creating jihad-friendly Second Life avatars...
24 comments

House Subcommittee Explores Virtual Worlds, Simulcasts on Second Life

April 2, 2008 -
markey-avatar.jpgYesterday's congressional visit to Second Life is chronicled by the Washington Post.

The Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, chaired by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), heard from executives of Linden Lab (publisher of Second Life), IBM and other firms. The meeting was simulcast within Second Life, a Congressional first, according to Markey (seen in SL avatar form at left). WaPo reporter Mike Musgrove writes:
A virtual depiction of the Rayburn House Office Building meeting room was projected on television screens on the wall, so that real-world attendees could take a look at the small virtual crowd that logged on for the event. Attendees logging in from Second Life, meanwhile, could watch the proceedings in a video screen projected on the wall of the virtual room.

The subcommittee had questions about the potential for money laundering and whether children were safe in online worlds. This being Second Life, of course, there was some silliness:
As the politicians and the witnesses discussed the potentials of the online virtual world, the online visitors logged on in Second Life chatted away on the screen in conversations that ranged from the topic at hand and beyond:

"I think senators are superdelegates but not all reps."
"I love flip4mac."
"They should really move the x and the c away from each other on the keyboard." (this following a warning that the video might freeze for "just a sex.")

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) joked that Markey arranged the hearing only to find out how to level up in World of Warcraft. Markey had previously participated in a climate change conference via Second Life.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) fretted about the potential for child pornography and fraud in online games.

A video webcast of the hearing is available at the subcommittee site.

UPDATE: Liz Losh at Virtualpolitik offers her take on the subcommittee hearing and is troubled by some of the comments made by the congressional reps serving on the committee.
17 comments

Artist Recreates Gandhi's Salt March Protest in Second Life

March 12, 2008 -
When last we saw artist and professor Joseph DeLappe, he was protesting the Iraq war - and infuriating other players - by typing the names of dead U.S. miltary personnel into the multiplayer chat window of America's Army.

While DeLappe continues to visit the Army recruiting game as part of his Dead in Iraq war protest, he has turned to a new virtual project, recreating Gandhi's 1930 Salt March within Second Life. As reported by GQ:
DeLappe will begin reenacting Gandhi's 1930 240-mile Salt March on a treadmill inside New York's Eyebeam gallery—all of which will be reproduced in real time on Second Life.

Yes, the self-parody is (kind of) deliberate. "I'm a spoiled American computer artist paying tribute to Gandhi's life and philosophy by taking on certain aspects of his march, like the walking," he says. "But at the same time, you know, I'm not going anywhere."

DeLappe writes on his blog that he will use a specially converted Nordic Trak treadmill to control his SL avatar:
Over 26 days I will walk throughout the confines of this internet based community to reenact Gandhi’s famous 1930’s march to protest the British salt tax in India... my steps on the treadmill will control the forward movement of my avatar...
22 comments

Middle-East Expert Scoffs at MMO Terror Cell Notion

February 27, 2008 -
While U.S. intelligence operatives are actively developing software to spy on players of online games like World of Warcraft and Second Life, a noted scholar finds the government's cloak-and-dagger approach bizarre.

In a thought-provoking article for Salon, Juan Cole, author and professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan, writes:
What's the real game here?

...The notion that wandering around such an imaginary world with a computerized body is dangerous to anyone seems itself cartoonish and calls into question the public hand-wringing by security experts.

It's long been clear that the Bush administration authorized illegal, warrantless wiretaps on the American public, and that major U.S. telecom companies often cooperated... Dick Cheney recently urged making this type of unchecked domestic surveillance permanent.

Cole describes how unimpressed he was by his own recent visit to Second Life:
There were some technical glitches at first in setting up the audio, and the interview was cut short when "Second Life" suddenly announced they were closing down that area.... the week before my appearance, banks in "Second Life" were closed down... The institutional frameworks are to date so unreliable that terrorists likely could not count on a money-launderer...

Cole is also skeptical of using a platform like Second Life as a terrorist training camp:
If the July 7, 2005, bombers of the London Underground could so easily be recruited in a gym in Leeds, why go to all the trouble of creating an avatar?...

One [security] expert... darkly observed that one can find stockpiles of weapons in virtual worlds, without seeming to take note of the fact that those weapons are ... cartoon weapons...

Even the Internet war-game sites... which include "Worlds of Warcraft" -- would probably just make most terrorists overweight and addicted to the Internet...

Finally Cole finds government monitoring of virtual worlds unwarranted and unconstitutional:
The recent alarmism about terrorist activity in virtual worlds seems designed to prey on the fears of the Internet common among the Great Unwired...

Any monitoring by law enforcement of innocuous activity and communication in a virtual world, conducted broadly and without oversight, would be unconstitutional and could invade the privacy of millions of persons.
58 comments

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Is King right? Should all games adopt the free-to-play model?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoAh yes, because by building something nice they were just asking for people to come push them out. Consequences are protested all the time when other people are implementing them.04/17/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew Wilsonok than they should not protest when the consequences of that choice occur.04/17/2014 - 1:06pm
NeenekoIf people want tall buildings, plenty of other cities with them. Part of freedom and markets is communities deciding what they do and do not want built in their collective space.04/17/2014 - 12:55pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician