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Warner Bros.’ Gossip Girl sims, also known as the Upper East Side, have been operating in Second Life for the last two years, the longest running corporate marketing campaign in virtual world history. With GossipGirl being the most popular last name in SL, and the sim boasting a 55% return rate (compared with 10% for the rest of Second Life), it is easily the most successful campaign as well. So when the members of this strong community learned of it’s impending closure over a week ago, they were heartbroken.

Taunter Goodnight performs for a packed crowd at the farewell Gossip Girl Festival

Taunter Goodnight performs at the farewell Gossip Girl Festival

Admittedly holding back tears as she typed, Khai GossipGirl explains of the sims, “I’m really sad they’re leaving, it’s the only place like it in SL and nothing will ever be quite as good as GG.”

The Metaverse Mod Squad immediately went to work finding a place for the community to transition to, landing a secret location two weeks prior to closure, to ensure that the community had a place to land after closure.   And while the residents knew the good times weren’t going to last forever, we at the Metaverse Mod Squad were determined to give the community an action packed last week filled with events, contests, and live performers. I asked our CEO Amy Pritchard why it was so important for us to throw such a blowout ending week for the community.

“I couldn’t give them gold watches,” she replied smiling.

It was a week-long party of the likes that Gossip Girl has never seen before. Usually the sims have three to four events a day put on by members of the Mod Squad and Gossip Girl officers, with live DJs three times a week and regular live performers. Metaverse Mod Squad upped the ante and scheduled  DJs and performers at each and every event during the week, with about 1000L$ given away each day for contest prizes. It was incredible week with record attendance and some great feedback from the community.

“Ya’ll could just as easily not done anything special, but instead MMS made the last week of Gossip Girl really great,” secondlifename GossipGirl tells me over text chat, adding “it was a positive reinforcement of their awesomeness. All the mods that showed up who haven’t been here in a while makes it seem like they will miss Gossip Girl as much as we will.”

Tera Tilden, the project manager for Gossip Girl, who mods in-world as Harp Thursday says she never realized she could build such great bonds over the internet. After spending almost two years working in the sim, she says its like releasing her kids out into the “real world.”

“I never sat down and thought about me, really. I wanted to make sure everyone else had a great last week,” she said.

Gossip Girls celebrate their last night in the sim at an over-capacity goodbye party

Gossip Girls celebrate their last night in the sim at an over-capacity goodbye party

To end the final ten days of Gossip Girl, the Mod Squad threw an all day festival Monday with games, rides and vendors like Modd G, Doux Petit Dahl, With Sugar on Top, and many more. It was a celebration of all things Gossip Girl. Every vendor featured during the festival came to Second Life as a Gossip Girl, showing off the diverse talents of the community. Also, characters from the television show came in all at once for a meet and greet, delighting all the Gossip Girl fans. Residents hobnobbed with the avatars of Chuck Bass, Nate Archibald, Jenny and Dan Humphrey, Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen

The night capped off with a four performer concert series starting at 5pm. Maxx Sabretooth took the stage first, followed by CelticMaidenWarrior, Taunter Goodnight, and ending in a psychadelic particle fest from Thumper Boucher. It was an amazing event to be a part of, with as many as 60 people in attendance for the concerts at one time.

Thumper Boucher first came to the sim when he was contacted to replace a performer who had cancelled. He ended his career in Gossip Girl on the same note, coming to the rescue to finish off a concert filling in for a cancelled performer. Having played a scheduled gig in Gossip Girl the previous week, he was a big name in the final festivities. Boucher says he’s going to miss the sims as he’s always had a great time performing for the Gossip Girls.

“It was hearbreaking for sure. It’s a great build and a great bunch of people. It’s a shame when something with such a homey feel goes into the recycling bin for the server,” he tells me.

While the sims may be going down for good, the community is set to thrive in a new sim that the Metaverse Mod Squad has secured for them. The new place will include reproductions of some of the favorite spots of Gossip Girl, and the community members will be keeping the party going with morning coffee and regular events. The sim is going to be revealed shortly after this post, (For you readers it is the Chelsea sim, a region of Virtual London run by Debs Regent) but for now the Gossip Girls relive their favorite memories and share thoughts on what the Upper East Side has meant to them.

Kaira Cornonet shares, “I will forever be thankful for what this sim has done because I have met some of my best friends, both RL and SL, because of this place and they have forever changed my life.”

Chase Straight

Music Community Manager

The Electric Panda Blog

Metaverse: Your Squad for the Digital World.

The latest happenings at metaverse

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There’s been an interesting discussion in the blogosphere regarding the decision of one of our virtual world clients to only permit English in open chat.  Doesn’t that unfairly discriminate against non-English speakers? Aren’t virtual worlds for everyone, not just those who speak the Queen’s (or common) English?

Of course, this begs the question of why anyone would want to speak in a way that is largely not understandable by the rest of the group.  Community is in fact derived from communication.  Regardless, all of these questions are irrelevant to our role as professional moderators.  We are not policy-makers; we merely enforce the rules.  If we only selectively enforced the rules, our client would dismiss us and pay someone else to enforce them.  If we strongly disagree with any rules, we can work to persuade our client to change the rules or we can terminate our relationship.  Here, our client’s legitimate policy to remain English-only is based on a complex decision involving legal, licensing, and branding issues.  Of course, if such barriers can be overcome, it is optimal to allow all languages in a community.  From a company standpoint, we would love to more frequently use our foreign-speaking moderators and localization services.

Fortunately, non-English speaking users in this particular online community can acquire on the virtual goods market a very inexpensive (sometimes free) device that in real time translates their foreign language into English.  That way all the community members can participate in all the discussions.

–Amy

Metaverse: Your Squad for the Digital World.

The latest happenings at metaverse

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Ninja of All Trades: Onboarding Teams

04/23/2014 | Posted in CommunityMusingsQuality AssuranceTips

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Your world. Your story. Our people.

We do that

For about the last month, Koinup has been sponsoring the Rocking the Metaverse tour, the 1st ever cross-world music tour. Fittingly, the tour ended today in Twinity, making it the first ever live music event to hit the somewhat new virtual world. Twinity has a realistic take on virtual worlds, modeling its spaces after real world locations with the first being a replica of Berlin. A virtual Singapore and London are also on the way.

Dizzy Banjo rocks out in Berlin

Dizzy Banjo rocks out in Berlin

Second Life music stars Dizzy Banjo, Grace Mcdunnough, Slim Warrior and DoubleDown Tandino have been traversing the metaverse, bringing live music to Second Life, OpenSim, Metaplace and now Twinity. It’s been a groundbreaking tour, bringing fans of the musicians in Second Life across several virtual world platforms and now introducing the live music event to Twinity.

Folks in the virtual world business that I’ve talked to in the past sometimes speak of a future where there are no individual virtual worlds, just one main interface that all users connect to and interact. While this virtual “new world” will likely never come into existence as it is envisioned, Rocking the Metaverse is a good demonstration of a way that seperate clients can link and share content.

And as for Twinity, there is no news yet but I suspect the tour stop today will lead in to more live music events for the platform. Live music has been such a big part of the virtual world landscape that it seems only natural it should be brought into a fledgling one, especially one that is realistically modeled after real world locations. Imagine seeing your favorite band playing a concert in Singapore and you don’t even have to leave your laptop. While this may be the final stop for Rocking the Metaverse, it certainly isn’t the final stop in expanding the live music experience in virtual worlds.

Chase Straight

Music Community Manager

The Electric Panda Blog

Metaverse: Your Squad for the Digital World.

The latest happenings at metaverse

From the Blog

Ninja of All Trades: Onboarding Teams

04/23/2014 | Posted in CommunityMusingsQuality AssuranceTips

My last blog was about how to become a black belt in community management. Today’s blog is about how to excel at team building for new projects. As a Metaverse project manager, one of my favorite job responsibilities is working …

Read More

Your world. Your story. Our people.

We do that

Remember how much fun Addictinggames.com was back in the day? The site is still around and offers an impressive library of games to play, but companies are pushing the direction of casual gaming. In my industry, casual gaming is often incorporated into virtual worlds as things for people to do, but a new site (or at least new to me) offers a sizeable casual game portal as a way to advance ranking and increase currency.

Chat filter with hilarious results (If you have the mentality of a 13 year old)

Hilarious chat filter (If you have the mentality of a 13 year old)

Ourworld.com is a flash-based virtual world run by Flowplay that is pretty standard fare as far as those kinds of virtual worlds go. Avatars can explore different stylized sections of the world, express their fashion choices, go dancing, etc. What’s unique about the world is the way gamers progress, all by earning “Flow” which can then be used to play other games, resulting in more currency and advanced rankings.

Players can do this a number of ways from gaming to dancing and other social activities. The more interactive the activity is the more flow the players earn. What I’ve seen from the world is the gaming is probably the best part of the whole thing. I went to a couple fashion shows where attendees vote on avatars, but a lot of people in the crowd just kept asking when it was over.

One day I dream of owning a balloon-popping monkey

One day I dream of owning a balloon-popping monkey

The games though, are bad ass. I wasted way too much time throwing down on Bloons Tower Defense and Warlords, two of the new games being offered in the world. Beweled has also been recently introduced. The only problem with the games is that there isn’t a social aspect to them as there is no in-world multiplayer mode. Still, if you’re looking to pimp out your avatar, unlock furniture and other goods for your virtual apartment in this world, the gaming is a great way to do it. While a site like Addicting Games is still a lot of fun, at least in Ourworld it makes you feel like you’re “accomplishing” something.

–Chase

Music Community Manager

The Electric Panda Blog

Metaverse: Your Squad for the Digital World.

The latest happenings at metaverse

From the Blog

Ninja of All Trades: Onboarding Teams

04/23/2014 | Posted in CommunityMusingsQuality AssuranceTips

My last blog was about how to become a black belt in community management. Today’s blog is about how to excel at team building for new projects. As a Metaverse project manager, one of my favorite job responsibilities is working …

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Your world. Your story. Our people.

We do that

Okay, so maybe he’s not everyone’s idea of a rock star.  But to me, Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, is one small step away from godliness.  His highly acclaimed theory of multiple intelligences (1983, 1999)  shaped my educational and parental philosophies.

I am not alone in my awe of Gardner’s work. Over the past two decades, school systems nationwide and beyond reformed their curriculums and rewrote their mission statements to embrace and nurture his eight categories of intelligence (linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic) in their students.

Now, in 2009, Howard Gardner has again laid the foundation for a pedagogical shift in the way society sees children. Only this time, he and a team of Harvard researchers are probing how the use of digital technology is transforming millennial kids – particularly in the ethical realm.  Known as the GoodPlay Project, Gardner’s study is being financed with a grant from the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The purpose of Gardner’s project is to identify and promote “good play”, defined as “online conduct that is both meaningful and engaging to the child and responsible to others in the community and society in which it is carried out”. Or, in other words, everything that we as an industry could hope to see in children’s virtual worlds!

Since academes often exist in a world all their own (as the daughter of college professors and academic researchers, I know this firsthand), and have been known to use lofty language and intimidating terminology, I’ll be devoting my next few posts  to translating the essential findings of the GoodPlay project into plain, clear, virtual English.

In the meantime, here’s a video of Howard Gardner talking about his work at GoodPlay.
Howard Gardner Discussing the GoodPlay Project

- Sharon

Metaverse Mod Squad, Director of Youth Strategy

www.theundercovermom.com

Metaverse: Your Squad for the Digital World.

The latest happenings at metaverse

From the Blog

Ninja of All Trades: Onboarding Teams

04/23/2014 | Posted in CommunityMusingsQuality AssuranceTips

My last blog was about how to become a black belt in community management. Today’s blog is about how to excel at team building for new projects. As a Metaverse project manager, one of my favorite job responsibilities is working …

Read More