The week before last I spent some time at the 2008 Virtual Worlds and Virtual Law Conference here in New York. (A warm thanks to Ben Duranske, author of the Virtually Blind blog and a new book on virtual law, for making it possible.) I attended a few different sessions, ranging from an interesting discussion on intellectual property issues (yes, you can trademark your avatar, complete with "TM" bling) to a panel on bringing your organization into virtual worlds, which provided tips on getting started (know your virtual audience) and prompted a candid discussion of ROI (stickiness is a big metric).
It was really interesting to see the range of audiences that are being targeted, from the preschool set to older adults, as well as the range of companies that are making the jump. And while the driving force behind virtual worlds seems very entertainment focused, there is also a good deal of energy being put into creating virtual worlds (or projects within virtual worlds) that focus on more worthy pursuits, like education and advocacy.
In fact, one project that should be of interest to our community is the work that former statewide website coordinator Gene Koo (blog) is doing with the Berkman Center and CALI to create virtual environments that facilitate legal instruction and collaboration among law school professors. For more on the intersection of law and virtual worlds, check out the excellent book, The State of Play: Law, Games and Virtual Worlds, and the State of Play conference website, which includes podcasts and webcasts of past conferences (also available on iTunes U). -M