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.

Pixels and Policy Article on Racism in Second Life Invades the BBC

Imagine our surprise when we found out Pixels and Policy's article on racism in Second Life was set to be featured on the BBC's website! As you can imagine, we thought it was a joke at first.

However, the news is true. Pixels and Policy received a great write-up on the BBC's Magazine Monitor, alongside the likes of Michael Caine and a former Bosnian leader on the run from authorities. This goes a long way in proving what Pixels and Policy has said – virtual worlds are an area of growing importance in the world, and coverage of how players live in the Metaverse will draw an audience.

As the BBC said:

In virtual reality you create what you look like – your avatar – so are
given the opportunity to separate yourself from your age, race or
gender. Despite thisresearch from North Western University which suggests people are less likely to help someone if they have a black avatar.

We're not going to sit back and enjoy the appreciation, though. Pixels and Policy is currently conducting research on the role of gender in the virtual world, with a focus on how female avatars are perceived by others, and how the players of female avatars perceive themselves.

In the meantime, keep reading!