Pixels and Policy Editor to Appear on Feb. 28th’s “Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe”

What a way to celebrate six months covering the policy and international business applications of social media and virtual worlds! After two successful stints on Pooky Amsterdam's impressive Second Life-based television shows, we've been invited to appear on another Treet.tv program – Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe!

Treet's description sums up our feelings on Beebe's great show, now in its third year:

TONIGHT LIVE WITH PAISLEY BEEBE
is the highest rated virtual TV show, with many thousands of viewers
tuning in every week. It can be seen live on inworld virtual screens,
online at Treet.tv or later on iTunes. Between 50 – 70 avatars in Second Life watch the live taping at the virtual S.L studio at Northpoint every Sunday at 6pm PDT.


“Tonight
Live” informs and showcases the best things in Second Life, locations,
creators, Musicians and issues important to virtual world residents. If
you want to know what is happening in your virtual world? this show is
a MUST see.

Pixels and Policy Editor Max Burns will be spending the episode discussing the current virtual business climate with Paisley, as well as various hot topics on the use of virtual worlds for everything from personal expression to national security. It'll be a great show, and we're absolutely thrilled to be participating.

Mark your calendars, we'll be appearing February 28th, 2010 at 6pm SLT. You can watch live from inside Second Life, or pick up the feed on Treet.tv's website.

2009 in Review: Virtual Worlds Take Over Hollywood

As James Cameron's 3D epic Avatar surpasses record after record for a newly-released film, many in Hollywood are looking for the next big film. A few years ago it was teen wizards. Last summer it was sparkling vampires.

2009 may well be known as the year virtual worlds got their big-screen endorsement.

Pixels and Policy looks back at how three major films explored virtual reality and attracted new converts to the world of interactive synthetic environments.

Continue reading 2009 in Review: Virtual Worlds Take Over Hollywood

Interactive TV Promises Smarter Consumers

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Ready for your virtual closeup?

Lawrence Lessig argued in his book Free Culture: The Nature and Future of
Creativity
that the bulk of consumers learn about new technology through
old technology.

Americans learned about the radio from newspapers. They
heard about the television via radio. My mother learned about the Internet from
a dancing baby on Ally McBeal.

Now television programmer RDF USA – creator of such high art
as Wife Swapwants to put
the synthetic world on the small screen.
Sleuths uses "mobile participation
television," blending community interaction with interactive advertising.

Continue reading Interactive TV Promises Smarter Consumers

Multiplayer Gaming: Bigger than Hollywood.

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Forget watching Iron Man and thinking you're superhero-with-attitude Tony Stark. Multiplayer video games allow you to be a Tony Stark-type character.

It's this interactivity and customizability, says Tom Chatfield

of The Guardian, that explains why multiplayer gaming has surpassed moviegoing as society's imaginative escape of choice.

Pixels and Policy investigates.

Continue reading Multiplayer Gaming: Bigger than Hollywood.

Augmented Reality Finds a Partner in The Music Industry

MK-AZ169_advert_DV_20091028151855There are plenty of situations where a graphical overlay of helpful information might be useful, but augmented reality is still struggling to find potential consumer applications beyond iPhone novelty.

Now an emerging augmented reality company might have found a friend in need – the sagging CD music industry.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at how an old dog might be learning some new tricks.

Continue reading Augmented Reality Finds a Partner in The Music Industry

Zak Claxton and the Business of Music in the Metaverse

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Zak Claxton: Live in Second Life

Could major radio stations soon be playing the music of artists best known for their Second Life avatars?

If one well-known Metaverse rocker has his way, the tunes that have players lining up in the virtual world will soon find their way into a real-world album release.

Zak Claxton is a big deal in Second Life. His live music performances and audience-pleasing style have over the years grown into a true fan following. So when Claxton had to decide whether to release his first real-world album using his real name or the Claxton nomme de Metaverse, the choice was easy.

Pixels and Policy spoke with Claxton to find out why virtual music is bringing him real recognition.

Continue reading Zak Claxton and the Business of Music in the Metaverse

The L.A. Times Contemplates America’s Avatar Addiction

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As we discussed yesterday, the recent spate of virtual reality action flicks has Hollywood is gaga over gamers.

Between James Cameron's Avatar, the Bruce Willis vehicle Surrogates, Gerard Butler's Gamer, and anything else currently in the pipeline, more people are experiencing virtual worlds through old media than ever before.

The Los Angeles Times has a thoughtful report on the prevalence of virtual worlds movies and what this means about what our society is thinking:

"One life isn't enough for anyone anymore," said Mark Neveldine, who co-directed "Gamer" with Brian Taylor.
"Part of it is people get heavily isolated today and then they also
greedy, they want more than the life they have and what it can offer."

Read on to uncover why the Los Angeles Times thinks the trend of virtual worlds flicks will only increase as we move deeper into the Metaverse.

Continue reading The L.A. Times Contemplates America’s Avatar Addiction

Is Hollywood Finally Taking Virtual Worlds Seriously?

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Has Hollywood made up its mind on whether virtual worlds are important?

With the release of Bruce Willis's heavy action flick Surrogates, Hollywood finally seems to be moving virtual reality from the realm of Weird Science to John McClainville.

One of our early articles focused on popular perception of the Gerard Butler film Gamer, wherein Mr. Butler plays an avatar engaged in life-and-death combat while controlled by another person miles away. Despite only grossing $19 million domestically, the low-budget flick turned a profit and got people asking: Are virtual worlds cool?

Read on to find out why Hollywood is suddenly making the Metaverse the preferred realm of self-exploration for their flawed anti-heroes.

Continue reading Is Hollywood Finally Taking Virtual Worlds Seriously?

Baumann Festival Merges Real-World Cinema, Virtual Audiences

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Second Lifer Glasz DeCuir sent us an interesting set of links via Facebook this morning that shed light on a new real-and-virtual film festival. The Baumann Festival (Spanish-language link) creatively merges independent short films from the Barcelona area with Second Life by creating a virtual screening room for every short film submitted.


The festival, hosted in part by big name Spanish communications giant Terrassa Digital brings together dozens of aspiring filmmakers from across Spain for a showcase of emerging talent and a chance to workshop and network with other filmmakers.

It features experimental film, documentaries, animation, and about a half dozen other fields, and often draws a solid real-world crowd in Barcelona.

But now, it seems, the organizers of Baumann Festival are aiming for a bigger crowd: the world.

By bringing the Baumann Festival into Second Life, its organizers hope to greatly expand the event's networking capabilities. It makes sense. This way, anyone stopping by can view the work of Spain's most creative filmmakers. 

This is the wave of the future. In terms of a cheap way to reach hundreds of thousands in an audience normally beyond the scope of a local festival, virtual worlds are an obvious choice. If the event is successful and word-of-mouth carries about standout films in the festival, Barcelona filmmakers may find themselves receiving calls from as far afield as California and Australia.

Thousands of people who never previously heard of Baumann Festival will get a taste of it this week, as the festival runs through tomorrow, with a grand film festival slated in-world on September 19th.

Pixels and Policy will be there. Will you?

You can visit the Baumann Festival screening green and find out more information about the festival in-world by visiting the following SLUrls:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/NEXE/97/168/28

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Oryx/108/14/22

Gerard Butler’s “Gamer”: The Key to Mainstreaming Virtual Worlds?

Gameronesheet_a.0.0.0x0.400x625 I’ve been following the pending release of Gamer, the new film by Spartastic actor
Gerard Butler. As an urban hermit who hasn’t actually been to a movie theater
in months, I’m interested in the flick for reasons other than sating my popcorn
dependency.

Gamer is the latest
offering in an emergent genre of writing and film I call MMOReality – flicks
that cover the merging cultures of online games and real life.
 

If Pixels and Policy
can be accused of anything, it’s that we tend to take a rosy view on the
merging of virtual and real worlds. That said, there’s something viciously fun
about imagining all of the horrible ways the unity of web and world could go
awry.  

The genre has a proud history: Blade Runner. Minority Report. Ender’s Game. Tron. The slightly newer Tron with an overweight Jeff Bridges and
a new graphics card.
By all accounts Gamer
is good people, but that’s only half of what makes the film so compelling.
With a wide slated release and in-your-face marketing, Gamer could bring millions of new avatars to the welcoming shores
of online gaming. 

There’s nothing particularly special about Gamer. In many ways it’s a retread of The Running Man, but with Butler’s version we have average
Americans logging on to a virtual combat world as avatars. The twist? The
avatars are actually death row inmates engaged in a bloody battle royale. Any
inmate who survives 30 rounds wins his freedom. You can figure out the rest
from here.
 

Gamer is going to
provide a boost to the online gaming industry by acquainting millions in the
audience with a type of gaming experience that they may never have found
otherwise. This follows closely on the heels of a point I made in my earlier
post, Sleuths: Or How Interactive TV Makes You Smarter – the majority of consumers are introduced to new technology by
means of old technology. In this case, the theater introduces massively
multiplayer gaming.
 

Perhaps the spike in World
of Warcraft
or America’s Army
subscriptions will only be temporary, but as with all booms, a good portion may
well stick around past the initial phase of outsized expectation. Online games,
as Edward Castronova has shown, are inherently social. Once a new player is
connected, they will reach out to others in their real-world social group as a
means of augmenting and strengthening both real and virtual social networks.
 

Another recent sci-fi movie, District 9, grossed around $83 million to date. Assuming $10 per ticket
– the reason why I’m not included in any box office stats since maybe Titanic – that’s 8.3 million people. If
we figure around the same for a big-ticket name like Gerard Butler, and then
cut out a good half who may already play online games (a liberal sum to cut),
that’s still 4 million new exposures.
 

If only 10% of those go on to play an online game because of
their exposure to Gamer, that’s 400,000 new subscriptions. That’s only
slightly fewer than the current number of active accounts in Second Life. With an optimistic
prediction, we begin to see how Gamer
could bring virtual worlds and online gaming into the mainstream.
 

So, why does it matter? One big reason: If online gaming
goes mainstream, the number of innovative users and organizations with knowledge
of and access to virtual worlds spikes. As the population of players grows, so
does the potential for innovation in virtual worlds beyond entertainment.

Virtual
worlds will benefit from the economy of scale: You’re much more likely to get a
good idea for using virtual worlds in long-distance education when you have
400,000 teachers than when you only have 4,000. 

And they said we’d never learn anything from movies.