Looking Back at Six Months of Pixels and Policy

Since its creation in August 2009, Pixels and Policy has been about the efficient delivery of interesting, in-depth research on how virtual worlds are changing our real-world politics, policy and culture. We've covered a lot of new and interesting ground, and, I like to think, contributed to the growing discussion about just how virtual worlds fit into our personal and professional lives.

We've helped focus the discussion of virtual worlds onto some interesting points, and large media outlets are paying attention:

  • Our piece on how Iranian protesters used Second Life and social media to overcome government violence and censorship was featured in Foreign Policy in Focus and Truthout.
  • Our research on how racism has crossed the real-virtual divide and made an unfortunate appearance in Second Life was talked up at BBC Online.
  • Our survey of female avatars in Second Life revealed that supersexual avatars have their root in larger gender dynamics, and Jezebel did a great analysis of our work.
  • National Terror Alert syndicated several of our research pieces on the role of virtual worlds and social media in expanding government counterterrorism efforts.
  • Pixels and Policy got a great review and spotlight from Hamlet Au of New World Notes, outlining the work we're doing and why it's an important real-world discussion.

It's been a good six months, and we look forward to many more. That said, Pixels and Policy is getting back to basics. As you can see, we've abandoned a clunky three-column page design so that our articles and guest submissions are again the focus of your experience. There's something even better, too: Pixels and Policy has gone completely ad-free. After weighing the pros and cons, we decided it was better to give you an unfettered reading experience.

As always, we'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on the website, as well as any discussion topics you may have.

Can Virtual Worlds Promote Social Activism?

Haiti If you're one of FarmVille's 60 million active players, you've probably seen the option to invest your farm bucks into some truly special sprouts.

Zynga, the owner of addictive Facebook games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars, launched the "Sweet Seeds for Haiti" with the goal of lifting hundreds of impoverished Haitian families from destitution. It may just be working.

By channeling the power of its hundreds of millions of active players across multiple browser-based games, Zynga hopes to be the first major success story in the field of "virtual awareness." Pixels and Policy investigates.

Continue reading Can Virtual Worlds Promote Social Activism?