China Struggles to Evolve in the Age of Online Gaming

Worldofwarcraft_chinaChina is an interesting case, a society where strict cultural censorship gives way to a vibrant community of online gamers. But this online freedom only exists up to a point, as both Google and World of Warcraft can attest.

China's educated middle and upper classes are voracious online gamers, and many are unhappy with several proposed changes to the popular Chinese online game "Legend." This caps off a tumultuous few months for a Chinese government struggling to come to terms with the emergence of virtual worlds.

Let's take a look at why some Chinese gamers are staging virtual world protests, and why the Chinese government is moving to shut down offending servers in a bid to control the potential threat of unchained protest.

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How Tough Economic Times are Encouraging Virtual Workplaces

Leftimg The sputtering global economy could have a silver lining – companies looking to cut travel costs are turning to the virtual world for more business services than ever.

As CNN reports, companies are increasingly turning to telecommuting and virtual conferencing in graphical virtual worlds as a means of shaving costs and remaining competitive in an economy where credit is still tight and government life preservers are harder to come by.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at the exodus to the virtual business landscape.

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Is the Metaverse Falling Victim to Large Platform Monopolies?

6a0120a51c39be970b0120a597d2b4970b-800wi There's no denying it – despite a worldwide consumer recession and spiking unemployment, virtual worlds are still growing with impressive speed.

A report by the Virtual Goods Summit shows that purchases of virtual clothing, weapons, and accessories will top $1 billion for the first time, and will nearly double to $1.6 billion by 2010.

There's only one thing missing: competition..

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Thinking Virtually: Helping Companies Succeed in Marketing to the Metaverse

 

From Audi
digitally marketing their new electric car
to a slew of virtual
reality themed Hollywood blockbusters
, focusing on virtual worlds as a
potential revenue source is all the rage. But as companies have repeatedly shown by high-publicity failures, marketing in the virtual world is a tricky proposition.

Pixels and Policy looks at how to effectively market products to eager eyes in the Metaverse.

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Virtual Worlds Enlist as Military Operations Simulators

Size0-army_mil-38704-2009-05-29-160552 A few weeks ago, Pixels and Policy took a look at how virtual worlds might be helping the U.S. Army look for promising new recruits.

Today we take a look at the policy applications of a defense-themed virtual program.

The University of Maryland's Institute for Advanced Computer Studies has interesting ideas on the future uses of virtual worlds in combat. Find out just what the military has in store for the Metaverse.

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Media Hype Could Permanently Damage Augmented Reality

6a00d8341bf7f753ef01157203c76e970b-800wi The media appears quite smitten with augmented reality technology, the webcam-based tool that allows graphical, interactive overlays to be placed over most objects sporting a special bar code.

The problem is, excessive media hype could end up damaging augmented reality's much-needed development, turning a possibly great future product into a barely useful current one.

Let's look at why augmented reality is a promising technology almost certain to underwhelm, especially after the hype treatment heaped on its promise by the mainstream medi


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Are Businesses Burning Out on Virtual Conferencing?

Virtual consulting companies are popping up across the country, but could these Metaverse entrepreneurs be miscalculating the scale of corporate interest in virtual worlds?

One report argues that 2010 will see a marked downturn in corporate interest in virtual conferencing and digital events. Could the boom time be ending already?

Pixels and Policy takes a look at what's in store.

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Trademarking Avatars and the Future of Virtual Ownership

Aimee_weber_tm_bling

               
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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Virtual Currencies: The Rise of a Not-So-Virtual Monetary Unit

From FarmVille Dollars to the Evony Cent,
nearly every virtual world, multiplayer game and online environment
seems to be adopting synthetic currencies – the little tokens we
happily give our real money to acquire.

Virtual
currencies each have their own exchange rate, from L$250 to $1 in
Second Life to 50 Evony Cents for $5 and everywhere in between. But
once successful virtual currency company now claims the success of a
virtual currency has little to do with its price.

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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.

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