Government and governance in virtual worlds panel.
Tori Horton, description of how virtual worlds can link to public diplomacy, reviews weaknesses and strengths of virtual worlds for servicing public diplomacy.
My comment: same issue as with Raph’s framing of Metaplace, really. Why should we privilege or turn to virtual worlds for communicative purposes? What can we do more there that we can’t with other media forms or tools? (I think we can, but I feel like folks who are advocates of virtual worlds get pretty cagey about this point.) Either it’s about particular publics that are important or it’s about a way of communicating that has distinctive character, effects, etc. (which might include being indirect or diffuse in communicating)
Jean Miller, governance. When government agencies were interested in being in Second Life, why? What kinds of challenges did they face?
Me: in a way, this is kind of the story that’s now being told about Second Life as a quasi-postmortem: all the organizations and institutions that went into Second Life with an idea about what virtuality was and would do for them, and found difficulties, etc.–most of them are now absent from Second Life or very nearly so. I think this is where virtual worlds as an overall idea or media form are at this point now as a whole: they were oversold as the arrival of the Metaverse, the virtual world as replacement or overlay for the world. Instead, it’s just a media form, an interesting one, but it can’t do any of the things that were expected of it (or that were hyped about it).
Elizabeth Losh. Virtual state. Book, Virtualpolitik. Thinking about military video games, why and how do militaries choose to make games. Interested in how game developers come into the military institution, but points out that when people come to doing a game from the military side is in some ways more interesting. Looking at the way that Iraq specifically was represented in military games. Emergent play within several worlds, used to train but also for other purposes (therapy for PTSD, for example). Use of game to demonstrate or authenticate an existing project from government. Looking at repurposing of Second Life Iraq representations for artistic or political commentary.
William May, description of official thinking about use of virtual worlds within State Department, esp. Second Life, how they took an interest, what they thought they could do within Second Life that they couldn’t do otherwise. “It’s just another medium: it has to let us do something that we couldn’t do otherwise”.