Around the Virtual World

A weekly wrap up of interesting news about virtual worlds, virtual goods and other social media.


Is Online Poker Over?

This week, the FBI landed a crushing blow on all of the online poker sites that are advertised nightly in the United States. Individuals involved with internet gambling companies PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were indicted for bank fraud, money laundering,
and illegal gambling and sued in a companion civil suit that seeks at least $3 billion in forfeitures and penalties.

HP Rolls Out Virtual Banking With Avaya’s Web.alive

Building on HP’s Unified Communications and Collaboration Services portfolio for the enterprise, HP and Avaya today announced a strategic offering that provides banks with a customer-centric, humanizing element for assisted self-service.

What Effect Has the Internet Had On Religion?

The concept of religious ritual is so deeply embedded in our social fabric that it is natural for it to have made the leap to virtuality. And it hasn’t just reared its head in worlds such as Second Life. Social networks, including Facebook, have active and close-knit communities of religious followers of all creeds, gathering in what science writer Margaret Wertheim described in her 1999 book, The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace, as “a new kind of realm for the mind”.

Hackers Go After Points, Credits,
and Virtual Currency

Virtual thieves can sell stolen points in online forums or on eBay, or they can try to exchange points for rewards. However, most online retailers,
social media, and gaming websites recognize the thieves’ behavior patterns when cashing in stolen points. By analyzing the history of the device being used to access a website, the website’s operator can prevent fraudulent transactions.

Social Gaming on Track to Become $5 Billion Industry by 2015

Parks Associates, an internationally recognized market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services,
forecasts revenues in the social gaming market will increase by five times from 2010 to 2015, due in large part to advertising revenues and sales of virtual items. These factors already pushed revenues over $1 billion in 2010.

FNB’s eBucks Buy 19 Million KMs of Fuel

In December 2009, members of eBucks, First National Bank’s rewards programme, were given the ability to pay for fuel with eBucks, FNB’s virtual currency, at participating Engen service stations around South Africa. Since then, FNB has enabled eBucks’
members to fill up on fuel to the value of over R13m at participating Engen service stations – which is enough fuel to drive almost 20 million kilometres or – more accurately – to make 25 trips to the moon driving an average family sedan.

IU Shares $297,929 NSF Grant to Study Use of 3D Virtual Worlds

The National Science Foundation has awarded $297,929 to a multi-disciplinary team from Indiana University and Arizona State University. The award supports on-going research concerned with the use of computer-generated 3D virtual environments by business and educational enterprises.

Virtual Currency Drawing in More Viewers

Virtual currency isn’t just for gamers any longer. New data from Jun Group indicates that video viewers are also interested in virtual currency. According to their report on incentivized social video, virtual currency is pushing consumers to watch more video content in the social space.