Virtual World/Gaming Academics: What Are the Best Academic Studies on Race & Avatars in Second Life?

Second Life academic studies on race

I was just chatting with a graduate student whose thesis revolves around Second Life, and she brought up an interesting point: There seems to be few academic studies on race and avatars in Second Life. "I think it is fair to say that in general there is a huge gap in the literature," as Karley Aiken, an MA candidate at San Francisco State University, put it to me. "[M]y initial search found very few results, leading me to assess that there is a huge gap in the literature. One would expect that, given the amount of literature dedicated to sex and gender within Second Life, there would be a comparative amount of research on race and the dynamics of race and ethnicity. But it's missing."

While searching, she often instead found New World Notes posts on race, like this classic about a white woman who experienced Second Life as a black avatar. And to be honest, after writing anecdotal posts like that, I expected (and hoped) academics would run with the topic in a more rigorous way. And maybe we're just not looking in the right places, but evidently, studies like that are scarce.

So help us out, virtual world/gaming academics: Have you come across papers like this?

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Open Forum: Ask & Answer Second Life User Questions Here

I often get IMs and e-mails from Second Life users asking me for technical support, or have account management questions which I'm not able to answer for various reasons. (Chief among them, I haven't been a contractor for Linden Lab for over six years.) Instead of leaving those requests unanswered, here's an open forum comment thread for NWN readers to help each other. If you're an SL expert and have some time, please jump in!

Open Forum: What's Your Most Important Experience from Second Life's Last 10 Years?

Second Life 10th anniversary memories

This coming Sunday is Second Life's official 10th anniversary, and I'll be writing a lot about that soon, and what that means to me. But I also want to write about what it means to you, good reader, so please share: In all the time you've been logging into Second Life, what's been your most important experience there? Please share in Comments, and I'll highlight my favorites in posts next week. (So be sure to include your SL username and links/SLurls, for credit.)

And since I'm asking, I'll start first:

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Open Forum: What's the Most Amazing or Interesting Second Life Content New World Notes Hasn't Covered Yet?

Siren Song SL image Whiskey Monday

This is a Second Life screenshot shot by Ms. Whiskey Day (click here to embiggen) and it uses the Firestorm SL viewer's new alternative cloud maps, which I wrote about last week. It is amazing and interesting. When I wrote about it, however, some readers complained that another SL viewer has had these maps for some time, and that's fair enough. And not surprising -- after doing this for so many years, I've learned to assume there's always a precedent to anything in Second Life I'm planning to write about. But rather than just complain after the fact, dear reader, here's a chance to let me know now what I'm missing -- what person, place, invention, community, game, artwork, etc. in Second Life should I be writing about, but haven't? Please include links and descriptions for that is the gold standard of the web.

Open Forum: 97.1% of Second Life Users Now Log In Through Mesh-Enabled Viewers, So What About You?

Mesh-adoption-2013
Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

A recent graph by SL resident Kadah Coba paints a very interesting picture of the current rate of mesh adoption in Second Life. As reported by Daniel Voyager last month, mesh viewer adoption is at just over 97% now.

Surprising? Not exactly. But given how vocal many NWN readers were on the issue even one year ago, I'm curious: When did you make the switch, and why?

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Weekend Open Forum & Comment Test: Please Post "Test" Or Whatever Else You Want in Comments

Some readers say the comments they've written recently on New World Notes have disappeared after they click Post. Comments are rarely deleted for running afoul of NWN comment guidelines, so something seems askew. Do me a favor, please post a comment in this post, if only to say "Test", or whatever else you want to rant about or plug or whatever. If your Comment disappears, please let me know, and what web browser/OS you were using, when it did. Tweet that info at me here, Plurk it at me here, or post to NWN's Facebook group here. Mahalo!

What Are Your Virtual World New Year's Resolutions?

I've been taking a much needed mini-vacation from blogging for awhile while able Iris ably steers the ship, but wanted to stop by to wish all you New World Notes readers a Happy New Year in 2013. I'll be back to blogging later in the week, but for now, here's an open forum for virtual world-related New Year's Resolutions. What are yours, related to Second Life, Linden Lab's other platforms, other virtual world/user-generated platforms, MMOs and 3D gaming, 3D printing, augmented reality, Kinect, virtual goods, or anything else we cover on New World Notes?

I'll go first, with two resolutions of my own:

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Open Forum: What in the World(s) Are You Thankful For?

Beijing Sunrise

Happy Thanksgiving, NWN readers! I just enjoyed a Thanksgiving dinner in Beijing with several American expatriates at a vegan restaurant with a poster of Bill Clinton at the entrance that serves tofurky with actual cranberries along with a traditional Chinese hot pot, accompanied by a restaurant-wide singalong over a karaoke mic. (Yes.) I'm thankful for everyone who reads this blog and all my other writing about games and virtual worlds, especially since it's helped lead to my getting to enjoy Beijing sunrises like this. What -- and who -- are you thankful for, in Second Life and beyond?

Last Chance to Nominate Your Favorite Second Life Blogs for NWN's Readers Choice List!

Click here to nominate your favorite Second Life blogs for our NWN Readers Choice list (if you haven't done so already), and be sure to read the guidelines first! For sanity's sake, we'll probably stop the nomination process by the end of this week or 100 nominations (whichever comes first).

What Are Your Very Favorite Second Life Blogs? Help Me Create an NWN Readers' Choice List!

There's over 2000 Second Life blogs, but which ones are worth reading? I want to create a New World Notes Reader's Choice List, so please post your favorites in Comments, and I'll list those with the most total nominations. Here's some guidelines:

  • List your favorite five or less, but no more than five.
  • Post the blog URL, please, not just the name of the blog! But after posting the URL, feel free to write a short description.
  • What's "an SL blog"? For the purpose of this list, any blog that's at least 30% about Second Life content, and OpenSim also applies.
  • Yes, you can plug your own blog.
  • The blog must have new content at least once a month.
  • One post per reader, please. And yes, I'll know if you post multiple comments, which will then be disqualified.

The blogs which are nominated the most times will be part of the Reader's Choice list, so be sure to tell other fans of the blogs you like to come here and post their nominations too.

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