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  Mixed-Reality Sweatshops  
Posted 2008-04-11 by Tony Walsh
Annie Ok sent word that Invisible Threads, a video she co-directed and shot in Second Life is available on the interwebs. The 8-minute film outlines "10 Simple Steps to your very own Virtual Sweatshop with Telematic Manufacturing."

The film is satirical in tone, but actually, worlds like Second Life which allow user-created content and real/virtual currency exchange are viable places for hiring out "sweatshop" labor, depending on what sort of work product you're looking for.

So-called "camping chairs," which pay Second Life users to linger in specific locations (known as "camping" in gamer parlance), pay a very low wage to workers in North America and Europe, but could actually provide a decent income in some countries. A few years ago, the New York Times reported that most Chinese gold farmers make under $0.25 USD per hour. The sweatshop featured in Invisible Threads pays in virtual currency equivalent to $0.90 USD hourly.
  links for 2007-10-01  
Posted 2007-10-01 by Tony Walsh
  A Few Cross-Media Pies I’ve Had A Finger In  
Posted 2007-08-25 by Tony Walsh
I'm not always able to talk about projects I've been involved with, so when I get approval from clients (which, thankfully, is most of the time), I'm not shy about highlighting some of the outstanding initiatives I've worked on:

1) The Fallen Alternate Reality Game (a.k.a. "Ocular Effect"), to which I contributed story writing and game design (for Xenophile Media with Double Twenty Productions), was nominated for an Interactive TV Emmy Award earlier this month. Earlier this year, the project won a SXSW Web Award.

2) Thursday's Fictions In Second Life launched last month, a project by The Physical TV Company I was briefly involved with earlier this year in Tasmania. Gary Hayes of the Project Factory worked with the team after Tas and co-developed quite a wild-looking environment for the virtual world, involving elements of the Thursday's Fictions book and film. Some really creative effects were used for this, and Gary's posted a meditative YouTube walkthrough for your viewing pleasure.

3) Metaversatility has launched its cross-media game for upcoming movie The Nines. The game touches the web, Second Life and will bleed over into physical space as well. I'm happy to have been involved (even if very briefly) during the conception stages as a design consultant. The game has already made a few headlines, most notably at Variety online.

Hopefully I'll get clearance in the next month or so to discuss a few other fun cross-media projects recently-concluded and ongoing.
  Microsoft Kills Fan-Fiction Based on Xbox 360 Games  
Posted 2007-08-15 by Tony Walsh
The good news is that Microsoft has spelled out how gamers are permitted and prohibited from using Xbox 360 games in machinima and other derivative works. The bad news is that "You can't add to the game universe or expand on the story told in the game with 'lost chapters' or back story or anything like that."

Historically, universe-expanding fan fiction related to TV shows and movies has in some cases extended fan interest in a given property, or has even been incorporated into the property's official canon. Killing fan-fiction (which almost always adds to a property's universe or storyline) pretty much invalidates any of the activities Microsoft has permitted, in my view.
  ‘LivePlanet’ Bumbles Into ‘Second Life,’ ‘Warcraft’  
Posted 2007-08-13 by Tony Walsh
"Are virtual worlds ready for a CNN to call their own?" The Hollywood Reporter asks, pointing to mainstream media venture LivePlanet which intends to embed reporters in virtual worlds Second Life and World of Warcraft.

Yes, virtual worlds are ready for "a CNN" to call their own--in fact, there has been a thriving "native" media scene inside Second Life for years. Wagner James Au was the first embedded writer in Second Life, followed soon after by myself (less embedded than external) and dishy tabloid The Second Life Herald--we were the first wave of writers alluded to in a recent Columbia Journalism Review article on journalism in Second Life. Since then, a legion of in- and out-world publications and broadcasters have been covering Second Life. It also bears mentioning that nearly every attempt to broadcast regular video reports from Second Life has failed, including the corporate-backed Grid Review. Why LivePlanet thinks it has a chance of success here is beyond me.

Continue reading: ‘LivePlanet’ Bumbles Into ‘Second Life,’ ‘Warcraft’
  links for 2007-08-12  
Posted 2007-08-12 by Tony Walsh
  Jesse Alexander (’Heroes,’ ‘Lost’) Talks Transmedia  
Posted 2007-06-27 by Tony Walsh
The Hollywood & Games Summit played host this week to Jesse Alexander, exec producer for Heroes, Lost and Alias. Alexander's discussion 'Shepherding a Property Through the Transmedia Landscape' was captured yesterday by Gamasutra and Wonderland, each offering a slightly different angle on the topic.

My fave Alexander quotes from Alice's notes over at Wonderland:
"There are new forms of entertainment, like Machinima and stuff, but games are great the way they are, movies and TV are great the way they are, and transmedia integrated into the DNA of whatever they create is what’s important. How am I going to get this content exploited on the internet, or in gamespace, or on TV...The writers of these games are more than capable of writing screenplays or TV content. They can do that."

Fave quotes from the Gamasutra article:
"When you’re doing licenses, you could find a way to do something shitty, put it out and make some money, but you could also build something great. Make a relationship with a studio, with a license, and make it great."
  VW2007 Notes:  “Platforms and Technologies”  
Posted 2007-03-28 by Tony Walsh
Best quote of the panel goes to Linden Lab's Joe Miller, who said the company is going to open source Second Life's back-end: "We will not succeed if only one company owns the grid."

Anyway, my grossly-abreviated notes follow. Caveat emptor...

Corey Bridges, Co-founder, Executive Producer, & Marketing Director The Multiverse Network
We are platform makers. This is the start of the mainstreaming of virtual worlds. The most popular/money making virtual worlds are MMOGs. MMOs have more purpose than just entertainment. What Multiverse does is make this technology available for downloading, enabling indie developers to get in and create new stuff. Our standard business model is based around developers--they don't pay us a dime until they charge consumers. It's such a blank canvas. What if you just want a nightclub or island? You can do that in Multiverse. We are trying to enable the full potential of this medium.

Continue reading: VW2007 Notes:  “Platforms and Technologies”
  VW2007 Notes:  Keynote - Viacom’s MTV Networks and Nickelodeon  
Posted 2007-03-28 by Tony Walsh
At the Virtual Worlds 2007 conference today, I hastily typed out notes from the Keynote presentation. Following is a rather incomplete assembly of said notes. Caveat emptor.

KEYNOTE: Jeffrey B. Yapp, Executive VP, MTV Networks

MTV Goes Virtual

"Mind bending virtual worlds"

Talks about how no network has ever done this "watch TV, live TV"

Describes, fluffs VLB/VH

These new media models provide insights into our audience... how the audience behaves in the virtual world indicates how they will behave in the real one.

Compares the growth of TV, cable, advent of MTV as "first outlet for youth culture" 25 years later MTV is one of the world's most-recognized brands... new media co-exists with old media...

getting into virtual worlds is risky but the reward is profound...
- 99% of the audience is exposed to the brand when they come in world 85% interact with the brands.

Continue reading: VW2007 Notes:  Keynote - Viacom’s MTV Networks and Nickelodeon
  Big Boom in Metaverse Development  
Posted 2007-02-26 by Tony Walsh
Third-party metaverse development firm The Electric Sheep Company, which creates content and services for virtual worlds such as Second Life and There has scored $7M USD in a round of financing, reports Reuters (a client of the Sheep). Investors include CBS (a client of the Sheep) and "existing" investors Gladwyne Partners, according to Reuters. It's not uncommon for makers of virtual worlds to receive financing, as shown recently by Areae, Doppleganger, Meez and IMVU: What makes the Sheep investment significant to me is that the financing is going towards a third-party--not first-party--developer.

This is a very exciting development not just for the Sheep, but for all companies and individuals who have entered the rapidly-evolving industry of metaverse development in the past couple of years. The Electric Sheep Company reportedly employs 45 staffers, not including virtual-world labour--by comparison, Linden Lab, maker and maintainer of Second Life employs about 110 people at its San Francisco office. In a Fortune Magazine article, David Kirkpatrick writes "Linden Lab counts 65 companies that have sprung up inside Second Life to serve real-world business customers. CTO Cory Ondrejka says about 350 people work full-time for such companies, and there are at least $10 million worth of such projects underway." Reuben Steiger of metaverse developer Millions of Us responds "I happen to think his estimate of the dollar value of projects underway is low, but it’s cool to see the overall size of the market."

Continue reading: Big Boom in Metaverse Development
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