Trademarking Avatars and the Future of Virtual Ownership

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Aimee Weber (TM)

Back in late October I wrote about how how Second Life content creator Aimee Weber sought to have her avatar's name made into a registered trademark. Well, all legal hurdles were cleared and a bit of virtual world history made in the process. 

 

This is a natural progression of any technology that allows individuals to make profit. Many virtual worlds journalists have been predicting an "avatar singularity" – where the user creates and owns a single avatar for use in virtual worlds as far afield as Blue Mars and Everquest.

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Minnesota College Offers a Degree in Second Life

Little Saint Paul College in frosty Minnesota is about to go global. The liberal arts school in Minnesota recently launched a program to teach the essential Metaverse programming and scripting skills to students via virtual classrooms. A just-released article in Finance and Commerce sheds light on Saint Paul's plan to immerse its students in the skills of the future.

The college is offering two new two-year degree programs. The Metaverse Application Design program provides training in graphic design, animation and art for the 3-D realm. The other program, Metaverse Application Development, is based on the college’s computer science curriculum and features courses in 3–D computer graphics and Java programming, among others.


Because the technology renders geographical distance irrelevant, the college has been able to form virtual learning collaborations with universities in Germany, Switzerland, England and Australia, along with the University of Oregon.

Talk about a cheap way to expand your college into something groundbreaking. Now, for the cost of a few dedicated computers, Saint Paul College can connect with universities across the country and across the planet in educating young Metaverse consultants-to-be on the ins and outs of the business.

This isn't SPU's first venture into the virtual world. They already offer a course in Second Life fundamentals, and SPU recently funded a program to create a virtual library that serves as a hub for virtual worlds and technology discussion.

I know I belabor the term by using it so often, but this really is nothing short of shrewd business. As Metaverse entrepreneur like Aimee Weber shows in her recent partnership with big-time automaker Peugeot, there is big money in virtual worlds for those who can create quality content. A college that provides a formal education in scripting and content creation will produce graduates with a competitive advantage over humble liberal arts grads like myself.

Visiting and writing about a world like Second Life is one thing. Having content creation skills is another, greater thing, as it allows the avatar (and the player) to physically alter the universe around them. Content creation is an entirely new level of immersion, a level to which unskilled visitors like myself are not privvy.

Will these graduates be the ones responsible for a boom in virtual worlds? Could Saint Paul serve as the Mountain View or Silicon Valley of the content creation world? One can hope.