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Corporate czars, with their avatars, infiltrate Second Life

By Jennifer Mears and Ann Bednarz, Network World, 10/12/06

Among the space stations and vampire castles in the virtual world of Second Life, a new kind of development is emerging: IT expo.

These forays into the virtual realm are just the latest example of how old-world companies are taking advantage of new world marketing opportunities. In addition to Second Life, technology firms are using MySpace, YouTube and blogs to reach out to customers in more informal and interactive ways.

"Companies recognize that press releases still serve a purpose, but they don't make a splash," says Mat Small, a manager at public relations firm Bite Communications, which orchestrated Sun's debut in Second Life.

"The thing about new media is there are some highly sought after audiences: for example, developers. I don't see very many developers reading press releases," Small says. "You're more likely to encounter them in an environment like Second Life, where companies can engage them in a fun, credible, candid, unstructured way that I think is very appealing to them and is more of a two-way dialogue."

Sun did just that when it held a press conference in Second Life, presided over by Sun Chief Researcher John Gage and Chris Melissinos, Sun's chief gaming officer. The two appeared in avatar form - an animated rendering that can move within the virtual world - to talk about Sun's Darkstar gaming project and to unveil the new Sun Pavilion in Second Life. The pavilion includes an outdoor theater, meeting spaces and kiosks that will play videos showing Sun technology at work.

Virtual Reality a Reality
By Wes Stewart
the Cape Breton Post

SYDNEY - If you can't be there in body, why not send your avatar?

MediaSpark president and CEO Mathew Georghiou's virtual self was a presenter Thursday at IBM's first-of-its-kind alumni block party in a virtual world known as Second Life.

The popular war games computer application, now in vogue in the virtual world, is finding its way into the boardrooms of businesses, Georghiou explains.

Second Life is an online world where people get together in a 3-D universe to interact one-on-one.

Georghiou, an IBM alumnus and one of three presenters, shared his ideas on how simulations and virtual worlds can transform e-learning. His GoVenture software company creates educational games and simulation environments for business and industry.

IBMers past and present have been working in the simulated Second Life world for more than a year, applying synthetic world and game-like universe techniques to real business and social applications.

Georghiou said the world where that is all happening has been around for a couple of years but has taken off in the last six months.

The most popular is World of Warcraft, played by five million people worldwide who control the play and interact online.

"Second Life is not one of these fantasy, war-based experiences. Instead, it is more of a social experience where people connect to have friends or to hang out with people online or, in our case, to do real business."

Georghiou presented to between 20 and 50 people around the world Thursday, using tools that create "emotional realism" for those watching their computers.

"They are looking at the virtual character I created and I am looking at the virtual character they created and I am standing in a virtual room in front of a slide projector and a microphone giving a real business presentation to these people."

It is so sophisticated, he said he can have his character walk up to another character and have a conversation.

"The virtual world of massively multi-player online games is a developing market opportunity for companies like mine (that) develop products to teach people about business."

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