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Virtual Surreality: State of Play in Singapore

State of Play V, one of the single most interesting gatherings of “games for good” developers in the world will take place in Singapore later this year. Perhaps it is apropos: somewhat more than slightly ahead of Myanmar on my list of decidedly not playful Asian governments, come August Singapore will welcome the creme de la creme of designers schooled in escapism.

“Building the Global Metaverse” is the theme of the fifth annual State of Play conference on the future of virtual worlds, especially the transnational dimensions of virtual worlds online and the impact of these environments throughout society. Virtual worlds – or, collectively, “the metaverse” – are “crucial building blocks of global civil society” according to conference organizers. A peak at online spaces like Second Life will give you a sense of whence the hype (hint: “…they harbor great potential for relationship building and cooperation across national borders” declares the conference website).

One of the things members of the NCDD community should find interesting about this conference (along with its organizers and many online game developers) is the underlying structure of dialogue and deliberation encouraged (or not) by these spaces, and ways innovators are seeking to replicate some of the best face-to-face dialogue processes in these 3D environments where dozens of users can gather and converse with one another much as they would ordinarily. The benefits of these online dialogues is that transcripts, audio and video clips, and other resources are instantly available. Furthermore, the potential to bring participants together across geographic boundaries within a virtual space inhabited by hundreds of thousands of other users greatly augments a groups capacity to implement follow-up activities, whether fundraising, awareness-raising, or collaboration online.

Here is more from the conference website:

The conference will feature experts from around the world speaking about:

  • Cross-cultural communication and avatar-to-avatar diplomacy
  • Strategies for understanding behaviors and values of virtual world residents
  • Regulating speech, property, and addiction in the metaverse
  • Building transnational businesses in virtual worlds
  • Using virtual environments to teach students of all ages
  • Space, place, and virtual world cultures

We will also present two new documentaries about how global virtual worlds intersect with real-world economies and social structures: Gold Farmers (2007) and Ideal World (2007). On Wednesday, August 22, we will offer six half-day workshops on topics including virtual world journalism, using virtual environments to transform global business, educational applications of virtual worlds, and managing virtual identities.

For conference schedule and registration please visit: www.nyls.edu/stateofplay.

Lars Hasselblad Torres
In 2004 and 2005, Lars ran a scoping study to determine whether a “National Dialogue Bureau” was a feasible idea. The Dialogue Bureau, if developed, would supply journalists with a “one stop” destination for the collection of views held by ordinary Americans who engage in dialogue about current affairs.

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