Virtual Worlds

Mirror Worlds: Good News For Developers, Architects and Lawyers – They Really Are Making More Real Estate!

Originally Published 2010

By Gary L. Cole AIA, Esq.

Online virtual worlds, also called metaverses, have been around for some time now, all the while growing in complexity and sophistication, first in gaming and then as online 3D social networking sites. But the majority of these are fantasy worlds – like the well-known role-playing game World of Warcraft for sword-swinging gamers, and Second Life (SL) – a metaverse where social interaction between avatars, not troll bashing, is the primary objective.

Freed of annoyances like structural engineering and material specifications, building and zoning codes, weather and oh, yes – gravity – anyone willing to shell out a few Second Life Lindens (SL’s virtual currency), can purchase virtual real estate on Second Life and build a house, a commercial building, a Harvard lecture hall, a floating museum – just about anything. And businesses are taking note as quite a few corporations and educational institutions have opened virtual operations in Second Life and extended their marketing to the virtual world.

But as imaginative constructs, fantasy virtual worlds will probably be limited . . .

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Virtual Retail: Linden Labs Buys Virtual Retailers

Originally Published 2009

By Gary L. Cole AIA, Esq.

As reported in the January 21, 2009 edition of the San Francisco Business Times, Second Life owner Linden Labs has just purchased two Second Life apparel retailers.

To translate that from virtual-speak to real world retail-speak: A real world company (Linden Labs), that leases Second Life virtual space (in the form of computer memory), to tenants who then build 3D virtual stores there (existing only in computer memory) and who sell online 3D virtual apparel to online 3D virtual representations of real-world people (avatars), for the virtual equivalents of real money (Linden Dollars) – just purchased two retail businesses, though the currency type and purchase prices are unknown.

Second life is a Metaverse, not an online game like the well-known World of Warcraft. Second Life isn’t played – it’s a place where Residents as avatars interact with other Resident avatars in a fully fleshed out 3D environment. Residents can walk, run, fly, drive cars – shop – and even teleport to different places in Second Life. From Second Life’s home page: “Second Life is an online 3D virtual world imagined and created by its Residents.” Real world companies, retailers, professionals, educational institutions, and religious organizations have established presences in Second Life. Anglicans have purchased a virtual island to construct a virtual Gothic cathedral; there’s a Second Life Israel and Muslims can now visit a virtual Hajj. The Maldives, Sweden, Columbia, Estonia and other countries have established embassies in Second Life.

With the U.S. and now European recessions in full swing, real world retail development has all but stalled. But the name of the game in retail is foot traffic – how long before retailers look beyond bricks and mortar stores to the virtual world for virtual customers spending real dollars?

© Copyright Gary L. Cole 2009

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Virtual Worlds Meet Real World Litigation

Originally Published 2009

By Gary L. Cole AIA, Esq.

A December 11, 2008 post on Sean F. Kane’s Virtual Judgment, “Does Worlds.com Hold the Patent for the Virtual World?” discussed Worlds.com’s recent teaming with General Patent Corporation (GPC) to enforce patents Worlds.com holds relating to virtual world intellectual property. This was also covered by Mike Sellers’ December 12, 2008 post on Terra Nova, “Worlds.com Asserting Patents on Virtual Worlds.” From Virtual Judgment:

“According to statements by Alexander Poltorak, General Patent Corporation’s Chairman and CEO, “[t]he Worlds patents represent exceptionally valuable intellectual property,” and “[w]e welcome licensing inquiries from the on-line game industry. Non-exclusive licenses are available on favorable . . .

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