Sunday, October 16, 2005


International relations in online worlds, and a game development contest for same...

Cory Linden just pointed me to this Washington Post article which mentions a boost of international opinion for Americans after playing in another online world with them, so I wanted to check back on a poll of non-Americans I took over the summer, which observed a similar effect. Voting on the question, "After spending so much time with Americans in Second Life, my general opinion of Americans [has become more favorable/not changed/has become less favorable]" has continued since that July post, and now stands at more than double the original sample of (presumably) international Residents.

With 222 votes, 27.48% of those voting said their opinion of Americans is now better after interacting with them so much in SL, while 12.16% say it's worse. So overall, a larger sample yields a slightly larger increase for thes positive, from 12% then, to 15% now. The search for qualified academics to make sense of this perceptible rise in positive global feeling, however, goes on.

Update, 11:14PM: Speaking of diplomacy in online worlds, there's a contest related to this, too. I just exchanged e-mail with Joshua Fouts, the director of USC's Center on Public Diplomacy who's quoted in the Post on his findings that interacting with US citizens in "Star Wars Galaxies" bolstered America's image among some international players. He and Doug Thomas (who taught a class in-world last year) are behind a "Public Diplomacy and Virtual Worlds" research project which is, in turn, sponsoring a contest challenging game developers to design a prototype or modify a game incorporating essential elements of public diplomacy. "I don't think the rules would prohibit entries created within SL," Joshua tells me, and looking at the rules, it sure seems that way.

Deadline's March 1st 2006, awards are announced on the week of E3, top prize being cash, hotel and airfare to the event, and a chance to meet high tech/game/academic luminaries like John Seely Brown, Bing Gordon, T.L. Taylor, and (to bring this entry back right where it started) Cory Linden.

Details here.

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It has never been the Americans that have been the problem, it's the government and the media down there. I'm thankful that people from outside the U.S. are getting to meet, face to face and often one on one, with real Americans.

As sheltered as it seems many of the citizens of the U.S. are from seeing what happens outside of their borders, all too often the rest of the world is sheltered from seeing the real culture inside.

I like visiting the U.S. in RL, but I do cringe though when I have to cross that border now.. it's a gamble.

Posted by: Simon Oz at Oct 17, 2005 7:40:58 AM

Wow, this contest could be right up Democracy Island's alley. After they finish a semester in SL I bet they would have great insight into what a game like this could look like.

Posted by: Satchmo Prototype at Oct 17, 2005 2:03:07 PM

i think id mind americans having to know what the "rets of the world" thinks baout them & thinking theres "them" & "the rest of the world" in the first place.

Posted by: cancan at Nov 28, 2005 4:18:29 PM