Looking Deeper: Should We Preserve Important Content from Virtual Worlds?

Virtual worlds are drawing in millions of new users, many of whom have no connection to their adopted world's original launch.

Is it worth the effort to preserve the history of virtual worlds for those who arrive late?

The Metaverse is an ethereal
beast, with entire worlds flitting in and out of existence. Pixels and
Policy looks at whether developers should make an effort to preserve
especially important constructions for the historical record.

Assessing the Value of Virtual Creations

Since
the virtual world is so liquid and content creation is a persistent
part of worlds like Second Life and others, many displays of
cyberculture exist only in the collective memory. Late arrivals to the
virtual landscape would have to do extensive research to uncover
evidence of major events, buildings, and community gatherings from the
early days of a virtual world.

Wagner James Au chronicled the major debate about the role of expression and speech in the virtual world
that came to a head in Second Life's Jessie region. It was here that
users squared off with virtual weapons and constructed a massive wall
that came to symbolize the tension of the early grid. Now the majority
of the region is gone, and virtual historians are left with little to
work with.

Continue reading Looking Deeper: Should We Preserve Important Content from Virtual Worlds?

Virtual Worlds are Reshaping How Indians and Pakistanis Think, Act and Socialize

Taj-mahal-3d-screenshot-1_reference You may not be familiar with The Hindu, India's national newspaper. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read some insightful work from an up-and-coming world power.

A fascinating article by The Hindu's reporters looks at how the technology powering virtual worlds is evolving, and how the way people communicate is evolving with it.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at why India has such an interest in virtual communication, and what their research tells us about the importance of the Metaverse across cultures.

Continue reading Virtual Worlds are Reshaping How Indians and Pakistanis Think, Act and Socialize

Are Virtual Worlds Turning Pre-Teens into Informed Consumers?

One of the best indicators of virtual worlds' long-term commercial sustainability is the ability of a world to turn users into active consumers. Radio did this by monetizing broadcasts through advertisements. Television does much the same through product placement and celebrity endorsement. But these are both decidedly passive forms of marketing.

Some interesting new research from the marketing website Mad.uk sheds light on just how effectively virtual worlds are transmogrifying entertainment-seekers into potential customers. Pixels and Policy takes a look at how pre-teens in virtual worlds are slowly headed towards consumer consciousness.

Continue reading Are Virtual Worlds Turning Pre-Teens into Informed Consumers?

Study Shows Virtual Therapy Outperforms Real-World Shrinks

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Could virtual worlds be used to provide therapy to those who lack access to a real-world practitioner?

That's the premise of a recent article outlining the multiple ways virtual worlds could provide essential mental health services to more patients than ever before. But what about the possible caveats of virtual head-games?

Pixels and Policy takes a look at the compelling academic studies of just how effective virtual world psychotherapy really is. 

Continue reading Study Shows Virtual Therapy Outperforms Real-World Shrinks

Liberalizing and Stabilizing Developing Nations Through Broadband Accessibility

A few weeks ago we reported on how Brazil is positioning itself to become the Internet and virtual world development hub of South America.

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Now a report just released by
market research firm Strategy Analytics has the data that shows
developing nations are likely in for a telecommunications boom over the
next year, with Brazil leading the way.

Pixels and Policy takes a
look at the report and what a mass expansion of broadband Internet
means for the developing half of the world.

Continue reading Liberalizing and Stabilizing Developing Nations Through Broadband Accessibility

Why So Many Organizations Struggle for Success in Virtual Worlds

Palomar_002-712712One of the most interesting and
controversial discussions currently taking place amongst the virtual
world cognoscenti is also one of the most vexing for the companies and
government agencies hoping to capitalize on the growing communication
power of virtual worlds.

Despite the best efforts of
developers like Cisco, the Department of Energy and a mix of other
public and private organizations, many more corporate/government Second
Life installations fail than survive and thrive.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at why.

Continue reading Why So Many Organizations Struggle for Success in Virtual Worlds

Death in the Metaverse: Mapping Uncharted Social and Legal Territory

Pixels and Policy normally approaches the interplay between virtual worlds and some aspect of business, culture, policy or politics. However, there is one issue that transcends these areas not because of its easy definition, but because it is such a hazy concept.

Can the virtual world change the way humans deal with death? And what happens to our virtual goods when our earthly bodies pass?

Continue reading Death in the Metaverse: Mapping Uncharted Social and Legal Territory

How the Intelligence Community Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Virtual Worlds

DNI-seal_small Social media and virtual worlds have nabbed headlines as potential game-changers in every field from business to political discourse, and most of that praise is well-deserved. But there is one community of experts consistently skeptical of the utility of virtual worlds.

Can recent improvements in the privacy and information security of virtual worlds win over the government intelligence community? According to some recent reporting by The Economist and Security Director News, even covert agents are warming to the potential communication power of firewalled worlds.

Continue reading How the Intelligence Community Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Virtual Worlds

PBS Frontline to Take a Deep Look at the Social and Cultural Impact of Virtual Worlds

PBS Frontline is one of the few mainstream news sources really taking a look at how virtual worlds are changing our politics, policy and culture. They've looked at everything from the rise of religious organizations in worlds like Second Life to the development of a digital-age telecommuting workforce, and each area of study has advanced the discussion on virtual worlds as a permanent fixture in our lives.

Now, on February 2nd, PBS will take a look at its broadest and most interesting topic so far. In a special event called Life on the Digital Frontier, Frontline takes a look at the many ways online interaction and virtual environments are changing our culture and social norms.

Read on to check out the program's trailer and find out more.

Continue reading PBS Frontline to Take a Deep Look at the Social and Cultural Impact of Virtual Worlds

Facebook Integrates Its “Credits” System into Zynga’s Vastly Profitable Games

One of Pixels and Policy's favorite discussion areas is digital integration – whether we're looking at how augmented reality is finding a niche in the music industry or how virtual currency standardization is moving much quicker than many suspected.

Facebook's recent announcement that the social gaming titan Zynga would be accepting Facebook's pay-to-play "credits" in addition to Zynga's PayPal currency transfer method went relatively unnoticed, but it could be the catalyst for more major changes in how we fund our virtual lifestyles.

Pixels and Policy investigates.

Continue reading Facebook Integrates Its “Credits” System into Zynga’s Vastly Profitable Games