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  ‘Big Brother’ Goes Virtual Reality  
Posted 2006-11-06 by Tony Walsh
The once trend-setting, now tired reality TV show Big Brother goes virtual this December in the world of Second Life. Endemol Netherlands will stage Big Brother Second Life, selecting 15 participants from 3 time zones to reside as avatars in a virtual house. According to an official press release, "The house is located on the Big Brother Island which is accessible 24 hours a day. From this location visitors are able to observe the five transparent units in which the residents will stay... During their time in Big Brother, the residents are constantly subjected to tasks. One of them includes the perfect recreation of famous buildings that will be auctioned once finished. The takings will go to a real-life charity that will be chosen by visitors of the Big Brother Club." Votes will be placed each week inside the world of Second Life to determine who leaves the virtual island and who stays. On December 31, one resident will win "an uninhabited tropical island in Second Life."

This is certainly a novel application of Second Life, and one I can see gathering a following among the virtual world's existing community. It remains to be seen how "up close and personal" outsiders will be able to get to the inhabitants of Big Brother Island--unless the island is exclusive to official participants, it's entirely possible the event could be marred by griefers seeking attention or fame. It's a pity the event won't be virtually filmed and piped out to a web page--the experimental Destroy Television project seems perfect for something like this. The appeal of Big Brother Island doesn't have to be limited to avatars residing in Second Life. Lastly, the lack of detail in the prizing information is noteworthy. Private islands in Second Life come with a monthly $295 USD service fee--does the winner of Big Brother Second Life get stuck with these fees? If not, how long are the fees covered?
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