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The past decade has seen phenomenal growth in the development and use of virtual worlds. In one of the most notable, Second Life, millions of people have created online avatars in order to play games, take classes, socialize, and conduct business transactions. Second Life offers a gathering point and the tools for people to create a new world online. Too often neglected in popular and scholarly accounts of such groundbreaking new environments is the simple truth that, of necessity, such virtual worlds emerge from physical workplaces marked by negotiation, creation, and constant change. Thomas Malaby spent a year at Linden Lab, the real-world home of Second Life, observing those who develop and profit from the sprawling, self-generating system they have created. Some of the challenges created by Second Life for its developers were of a very traditional nature, such as how to cope with a business that is growing more quickly than existing staff can handle. Others are seemingly new: How, for instance, does one regulate something that is supposed to run on its own? Is it possible simply to create a space for people to use and then not govern its use? Can one apply these same free-range/free-market principles to the office environment in which the game is produced? "Lindens"-as the Linden Lab employees call themselves-found that their efforts to prompt user behavior of one sort or another were fraught with complexities, as a number of ongoing processes collided with their own interventions. Malaby thoughtfully describes the world of Linden Lab and the challenges faced while he was conducting his in-depth ethnographic research there. He shows how the workers of a very young but quickly growing company were themselves caught up in ideas about technology, games, and organizations, and struggled to manage not only their virtual world but also themselves in a nonhierarchical fashion. In exploring the practices the Lindens employed, he questions what was at stake in their virtual world, what a game really is (and how people participate), and the role of the unexpected in a product like Second Life and an organization like Linden Lab.
The past decade has seen phenomenal growth in the development and use of virtual worlds. In one of the most notable, Second Life, millions of people have created online avatars in order to play games, take classes, socialize, and conduct business transactions. Second Life offers a gathering point and the tools for people to create a new world online. Too often neglected in popular and scholarly accounts of such groundbreaking new environments is the simple truth that, of necessity, such virtual worlds emerge from physical workplaces marked by negotiation, creation, and constant change. Thomas Malaby spent a year at Linden Lab, the real-world home of Second Life, observing those who develop and profit from the sprawling, self-generating system they have created. Some of the challenges created by Second Life for its developers were of a very traditional nature, such as how to cope with a business that is growing more quickly than existing staff can handle. Others are seemingly new: How, for instance, does one regulate something that is supposed to run on its own? Is it possible simply to create a space for people to use and then not govern its use? Can one apply these same free-range/free-market principles to the office environment in which the game is produced? "Lindens"-as the Linden Lab employees call themselves-found that their efforts to prompt user behavior of one sort or another were fraught with complexities, as a number of ongoing processes collided with their own interventions. Malaby thoughtfully describes the world of Linden Lab and the challenges faced while he was conducting his in-depth ethnographic research there. He shows how the workers of a very young but quickly growing company were themselves caught up in ideas about technology, games, and organizations, and struggled to manage not only their virtual world but also themselves in a nonhierarchical fashion. In exploring the practices the Lindens employed, he questions what was at stake in their virtual world, what a game really is (and how people participate), and the role of the unexpected in a product like Second Life and an organization like Linden Lab.
Malaby shows how the workers of a very young but quickly growing company were themselves caught up in ideas about technology, games, and organizations, and struggled to manage not only their virtual world but also themselves in a nonhierarchical fashion.
Synthetic Worlds, Virtual Worlds, and Alternate Realities are all terms used to describe the phenomenon of computer-based, simulated environments in which users inhabit and interact via avatars. The best-known commercial applications are in the form of electronic gaming, and particularly in massively-multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft or Second Life. Less known, but possibly more important, is the rapid adoption of platforms in education and business, where Serious Games are being used for training purposes, and even Second Life is being used in many situations that formerly required travel. The editors of this book captures the state of research in the field intended to reflect the rapidly growing yet relatively young market in education and business. The general focus is set on the scientific community but integrates the practical applications for businesses, with papers on information systems, business models, and economics. In six parts, international authors – all experts in their field – discuss the current state-of-the-art of virtual worlds/alternate realities and how the field will develop over the next years. Chapters discuss the influences and impacts in and around virtual worlds. Part four is about education, with a focus on learning environments and experiences, pedagogical models, and the effects on the different roles in the educational sector. The book looks at business models and how companies can participate in virtual worlds while receiving a return on investment, and includes cases and scenarios of integration, from design, implementation to application.
Cyber Zen ethnographically explores Buddhist practices in the online virtual world of Second Life. Does typing at a keyboard and moving avatars around the screen, however, count as real Buddhism? If authentic practices must mimic the actual world, then Second Life Buddhism does not. In fact, a critical investigation reveals that online Buddhist practices have at best only a family resemblance to canonical Asian traditions and owe much of their methods to the late twentieth-century field of cybernetics. If, however, they are judged existentially, by how they enable users to respond to the suffering generated by living in a highly mediated consumer society, then Second Life Buddhism consists of authentic spiritual practices. Cyber Zen explores how Second Life Buddhist enthusiasts form communities, identities, locations, and practices that are both products of and authentic responses to contemporary Network Consumer Society. Gregory Price Grieve illustrates that to some extent all religion has always been virtual and gives a glimpse of possible future alternative forms of religion.
Co-creativity has become a significant cultural and economic phenomenon. Media consumers have become media producers. This book offers a rich description and analysis of the emerging participatory, co-creative relationships within the videogames industry. Banks discusses the challenges of incorporating these co-creative relationships into the development process. Drawing on a decade of research within the industry, the book gives us valuable insight into the continually changing and growing world of video games.

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