Cyber-memorials raise cash for Katrina's victims

 作者:鲜于滁荀     |      日期:2019-03-02 06:03:06
By Celeste Biever (Image: Snapzilla/ReallyRick Metropolitan) (Image: Snapzilla/ReallyRick Metropolitan) Gamers have raised at least $3000 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina using virtual memorials, parties and clothing sales created inside a 3D online world. Katrina-related creations inside the online game Second Life include donation boxes, T-shirts, discos, art festivals, garage sales, candle-lit vigils and nude parties. Makers of the games Everquest II and There have simply introduced new commands that take players directly to the Red Cross web site. “It’s more evidence that the interactions that happen in the virtual world aren’t virtual, they are real,” says Edward Castronova, an expert in synthetic-world economies at Indiana University in Bloomington, US. “What happens in games involves similar values to what happens in life.” The advantage of organising donations and vigils inside a game instead of in real life is that people tend to spend online cash more readily than the physical money in their pocket, and dedicated gamers are more likely to donate within a game. “People are a little bit more liberal with game money sitting in their account. It’s easier to give away game money, it’s not tangible,” says Rick Seno, a round-the-clock “resident” of the virtual world Second Life, who goes by the screen name of ReallyRick Metropolitan. The online world also transcends geographical boundaries, allowing people who might never meet in the real world, to grieve together. “Only in an online-world vigil is it possible to share the grief and support with people from around the globe,” says Wagner James Au, who writes a blog about Second Life called New World Notes. “I’ve interviewed several Katrina survivors who’ve come to the memorial to share their stories and their shock and their grief with others.” The first events began on Thursday September 1 when Seno decided to set up a memorial in a virtual world. Seno, who lives in Dallas, told New Scientist it was the only way he felt he could contribute to the hurricane relief efforts. He persuaded Linden Labs, the makers of Second Life, to donate land usually costing around $2500 Linden dollars (the virtual currency of the game) equivalent to around $10 US, followed by L$25 a month, to build the cartoon-style stone memorial. He added a virtual TV set up to stream pictures of the hurricane coverage live inside the game and a candle dispenser, prompting other residents to arrange times to meet and hold “candle-lit vigils”. Soon other residents decided they wanted to help and organised events such as a garage sale and disco. Other memorials had been erected in the game following the London bombings in July 2005 and to commemorate 9/11. Money raised for Hurricane Katrina in Linden dollars is passed to a player called FlipperPA Peregrine, deemed “the most trustworthy resident of Second Life” after he organised a virtual 5 kilometre run to raise money for the American Cancer Society in August 2005. He also has a deal with a money changer called Gaming Open Market, which agreed to waive the transaction fee. However, Castronova warns that because the Linden economy is small, a large number of conversions at one time could degrade the virtual currency, as demand for the currency falls and supply increases, decreasing the value of money raised for Katrina victims. “I think it’s too soon to make donations in virtual currency, the markets are not stable enough,” he says. The donations also rely on trusting individuals. Two other virtual worlds have dodged these problems. Sony Online Entertainment (SOE), which makes Everquest and Everquest II, and Makena Technologies, which makes There, have simply made it easy to access the Red Cross donations site while playing their game, by adding new “/donate” or “give” commands into the gaming software. In the past the “/pizza” command had been added temporarily to Everquest II to allow players to order food in the real world from within the game. Makena Technologies, based in San Mateo, California, US, has agreed to match all donations made inside the game, up to $50,000 while SOE has suspended the subscription fees to all 13,000 players with postal codes in areas hit by the hurricane and frozen the natural decay of their virtual possessions. More on these topics: