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Watch out Second Life: China launches virtual universe with seven million souls

November 14, 2007 | Chris Payatagool
69198_large.jpegPeople to work from home in alternate reality
Entropia Universe will create 10,000 'real' jobs

This week may mark a coming of age for virtual worlds - the three-dimensional spaces on the internet where people have their own avatars, or on-screen characters. Last night BBC2's The Money Programme was screened in Second Life, the best known of the dozens of virtual realities that are springing up. This week Sky News opened a replica of its studio in Second Life and IBM sponsored a ballet.

Yesterday the Swedish virtual world Entropia Universe announced that it was teaming up with CRD, an offshoot of the Beijing municipality, to build a virtual universe able to handle 7 million users at any one moment. David Liu, chief executive of CRD, claimed that virtual worlds would generate about 10,000 jobs in China.

He added: "An important aspect for this project is also the positive effects on our environment that we foresee. People will actually be able to work from home inside Entropia Universe as many people do today, even from rural areas, thereby decreasing the amount of pollution generated by travel."

Entropia beat other bidders, including, it is understood, Second Life, for this venture. Even Second Life, with a claimed 7 million members, rarely has more than 40,000 on simultaneously, which means that the Chinese venture, if it succeeds, would have a population greater than all but the biggest countries. This raises the prospect that such ventures could become major economies in their own right with no allegiance to any particular administration (or tax gatherer).

Second Life claims to have created the equivalent of 6,000 full-time jobs

Second Life, which is still in its early days, has a daily turnover of $600,000 (GBP 302,000) and claims to have created the equivalent of 6,000 full-time jobs as its residents make furniture or clothes or sell land or services. It is talking about having its own chancellor to control the money supply and manipulate interest rates when its banks start lending money.

[via Guardian Unlimited]

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