The Watch – virtual worlds in the news

1. LiveScience (USA) – Motion Sickness in Virtual Worlds. “If the idea of spinning carnival rides, reading in a car, or sitting through a 3-D movie makes you sick to your stomach, then Frederick Bonato is your new best friend. Bonato, an experimental psychologist at Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, N.J., studies all forms of motion sickness including cybersickness – a phenomenon that occurs in virtual reality environments such as those displayed by 3-D movies. Bonato knows first-hand the pain you suffer and is dedicated to solving this problem so you can travel, read, and enjoy Avatar more comfortably.”

2. Armed With Science (USA) – Three Ways Virtual Reality Can Improve Military Training. “Efficiency of flight simulators has improved since they first appeared in the 1930s. My first flight as a commercial airline pilot was with a full passenger load because the fidelity of the flight simulator made the training so realistic that it didn’t require aircraft flight hours. We now have a similar capability available for a far broader training and education spectrum. We can now use virtual environments to train more efficiently or in environments that are too dangerous to recreate. The key to this training is a realistic immersion. You need to feel like you are present in the environment. The virtual environment provides the immersion and the scalability is drastically improved. An example of the scalability is a base exercise which is generally limited to a portion of the base. The reason for the limit is due to some portion of the mission needing to continue. However, if a weapon of mass destruction were to be used in a large city it would likely effect large portions of multiple bases (like Joint Base San Antonio). We can use a virtual environment to train such a cataclysmic event. AETC is testing large-scale exercise scenarios in a virtual environment by building the Joint Base San Antonio command post.”

3. Virtual Worlds News (USA) – Realtime Worlds Announces Project: MyWorld. “Developer Realtime Worlds is entering the virtual worlds business with its latest project, a 3D world with social features called Project: MyWorld. This world uses map information from GIS services to create 3D renders of entire countries. Users can then edit the procedurally generated data using special in-game tools. The suggested use is to make buildings more closely mimic real world counterparts and Realtime Worlds is actually going to attempt to enforce a sense of realism.”

4. Philadelphia Inquirer (USA) – Second Life avatars give disabled at Inglis House new experiences. “In the blockbuster movie Avatar, lead character Jake Sully, a paralyzed military veteran, wakes up in a virtual body to find that he can stand and run and dig his toes into the earth, which he does with animated abandon. “This is great,” Sully says as he disconnects himself from medical equipment and stumbles out of a laboratory. It is great – and not just for Jake. The ability to create a cyber version of yourself has been embraced by people with disabilities stemming from arthritis, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, mental illness, and other debilitating conditions. They log on to virtual worlds, Second Life chief among them, to do things they cannot, or are afraid to, do in real life. Can’t go places without a wheelchair? In Second Life, you not only can walk, you can fly. Is your speech slurred? In Second Life, text chats can let out your inner Shakespeare.”

5. Hypergrid Business (Hong Kong) – ReactionGrid discontinues $25 region hosting. “ReactionGrid no longer offers $25 regions, offering only entire servers starting at $150 a month, with a $500 setup fee. Each server can handle four regions, and there is a discount for educators — to $75 a region with a $220 setup fee. “The price for a $75 four-sim dedicated server actually works out to less than $25 per sim should users decide to go that route,” ReactionGrid CEO Kyle Gomboy told Hypergrid Business. According to Gomboy, the company has decided to focus on dedicated server deployments and the Jibe platform, which is accessible via the Web. Those looking to rent individual regions can go through a reseller, Gomboy said, but declined to provide any names. “If you hang out on the ReactionGrid community you will find many educators and others there who have the lower priced single sim options,” he said. “[But] I do not know the specifics of what each partner offers so from our perspective we’d rather not say you can get any particular level of hosting from a partner.”

6. The Jakarta Globe (Indonesia) – Gamers at Risk of Virtual Addiction. “Back in 2002, then-seventh-grader Surya Santoso was spending six to seven hours at a time playing “Nexia,” his favorite online game. The game, the first massive multiplayer online role playing game to hit Indonesia, was enormously popular when it debuted that year. “During those years, it was almost like my life revolved around the virtual world of my avatar, the mage Nonamushi,” he recalls. “I was obsessed with increasing my character’s power to heal and to attack, to the point where I often forgot to eat and sleep. I wanted to stop, but my mind always persuaded me: ‘Just one more level, just one more step.’ ” Now a university student, Surya has vowed never to touch another online game because he knows how casual curiosity can lead to a destructive cycle of addiction. ”

7. Thanh Nienh Daily (Vietnam) – Game over! . “Vietnamese authorities are poised to issue a stringent crackdown on the online gaming industry. Authorities claim that the move is aimed at protecting the nation’s youth from perceived social ills. Critics of the measures have decried them as unfeasible and unwise. On July 16, the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, the municipal administration, submitted a proposal to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung asking that he tighten the screws on online gaming. In the request, the city government noted that the number of licensed online games has increased from only two in 2006 to more than 65 today. The city hall claimed that 43 of the currently licensed games are violent in nature. The city government proposed a halt on the importation of new online games and an end to their advertisement “in any form.” It further proposed that all new games be screened for violent, gambling or pornographic content. All existing licenses should be re-evaluated; those that fail to meet the new content standards should be revoked, the city officials recommended.”

8. PhysOrg (USA) – Living in the Past and Looking Toward the Future. “Advanced computer models are changing the field by projecting the interactions between people and the landscape. They track agricultural activity, soil erosion, game animal populations, and more. Models enable archaeologists to explore life in past societies, helping them connect field observations to a sequence of events that explains them. The results may even help predict the future. Traditional archaeology limits the types of data that can be collected, said Michael Barton, a geoarchaeologist at Arizona State University in Tempe. “At best we get snapshots, usually with very tiny windows on what’s going on in the past.” Barton said that, conventionally, archaeologists compile these snapshots, which represent different times and locations, into narratives in an attempt to explain the large-scale changes within groups of people and the landscapes they inhabit.”

9. Veterans Today (USA) – Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan and how it is helping some Troops and Vets with PTSD. “Back in May 2010, we ran an article Virtual Reality Combat Simulations as a Treatment for PTSD that resulted in heated debate [60 comments] about both the negative and positive aspects of the Pentagon, and Department of Veteran’s Affairs experimentation with Virtual Reality War Simulations as a treatment for PTSD. Among those contributing to that discussion in a dignified manner was Professor Skip Rizzo, Ph.D. Associate Director – Institute for Creative Technologies and Research Professor – Psychiatry and Gerontology University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. In sum readers can conclude that Skip is the Father (or Founder) of Virtual Reality (VR) as a treatment to help heal active duty troops and Vets of PTSD. For the record, Dr. Rizzo and other proponents of VR, to treat PTSD, claim only that it is a TREATMENT not a cure for PTSD, and is to be used in conjunction with other treatments and therapies.”

10. Ars Technica (USA) – A decade to separate us: Ars reviews StarCraft 2. “Gamers have expectations for StarCraft 2 that will be impossible to meet. Players have waited a decade for a sequel to what is widely considered to be one of the best real-time strategy games of all time, and one of the world’s most-played PC games, period. Blizzard certainly isn’t afraid to make bold choices: LAN gaming is out, the title is being split into three releases, and the game is launching alongside a reboot of the popular Battle.net service that stretches across all of Blizzard’s properties.”

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  • Baloo Uriza

    I can't say I'm surprised about ReactionGrid's decision, though it's probably a death knell for them. How can you compete against OSgrid with the same software, but the business model of Linden Lab?

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