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    Posted November 8, 2008 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Stories from Second Life

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    Virtual London - The London Sims in Second Life

    Community building in Second Life, and the intersection of RL and SL are of great interest to me. One place to observe both is in the London sims, where you can find a very active community as well as a place where RL businesses can establish a virtual presence. I recently spoke with the sim owner, Debs Regent, about the London sims. The idea for the London sims began to develop when Ms. Regent, originally from London but no longer living there, met up with an old school friend for lunch while on a trip to London. During their conversation her friend told her about Second Life. They said how nice it would be to have a place in Second Life where friends could meet up for coffee or a chat, as they were doing in RL London, and as well, in Ms. Regent's words, "provide a portal for the RL London, with all it's activity and commerce." Building of the sims began in early 2007. The first structures to be built were the roads. Initially Ms. Regent worked alone. She says "To start with I tried on my own but immediately people began to visit so I was under pressure to develop faster than I could do it myself. Lots of people just 'dropped by' (and) wanted places to live, shop etc. It was very exciting actually." At that point more people became involved in the build. The London sims include, at the moment, five districts: Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Chelsea, Kensington and Hyde Park. I asked Ms. Regent to characterize each district. "Knightsbridge (the first to be built) really focuses on High Street upper end fashion. Mayfair's identity is the Haute Couture. Chelsea is very easy, fashionable and yet approachable. Kensington is more business and ...Hyde Park (is planned as) a community gateway." Ms. Regent says these districts were chosen "because tourism is London's #1 business and these are important tourist locations....We want to see (the London sims as) being a true commerce area for business and community, too." Plans for the future include adding more districts. According to Ms. Regent "We plan to build all of central London". In addition to building Ms. Regent is now actively seeking to bring RL businesses into SL London, and has hired Cleo Charleville (sl name) as her RL to SL sales and marketing manager. Ms. Charleville says "my job is basically contacting rl business and large companies and getting them to represent their businesses in world. We have businesses already involved and more to come." The London sims are already a vibrant area in which to work, play and live. Many activities and events are scheduled, often to coincide with RL London events. In August a carnival was held in Second Life, complete with a parade, funfair and street decorations. Recently, Second Life London Fashion week took place around the same time as the Real Life London Fashion Week. In the case of SL London Fashion Week, many top SL designers showcased their collections in daily runway shows held at "The Kensington", in SL Kensignton, a beautiful, richly adorned building with granite floors and Art Deco decorations. (http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-104006) And on Nov. 5, there were fireworks and bonfires in SL Hyde Park to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. On Oct. 19, a link up between the real Greyhound Pub in Kensington and the SL Greyhound pub in SL Kensington took place. Many of the people involved in running the London sims were attending the Virtual Worlds Conference in London, so they met in the Greyhound Pub at a pre-conference social event, and those of us unable to get to London were nevertheless able to be there, virtually, and see the real people behind the avatars. Some of the people in rl even popped into the sl Greyhound for a few minutes, which was truly surreal. It was a lot of fun, but more importantly, showed us what the future can be. One can also live in the London sims, as I have chosen to do. I have an apartment (perhaps I should say "flat") in the Chelsea district, as does my fellow CNN reporter Janey Bracken. Janey is the editor for Virtually London (lite) (virtuallylondonlite.co.uk) a blog reporting on the news of SL London, and I occasionally submit articles. It is a great place to live, there is even public transport consisting of red double decker buses and a functioning underground, or "Tube". If you want to spend an evening out , SL Knightsbridge is home to the successful Underground Club, where many avatars come to meet up with friends and socialize. The London sims are a combination of community within SL and a meeting point for SL and RL businesses. There are great plans to expand the sims, so it will be worthwhile for all those interested in Second Life to keep an eye on the activities taking place there. 1. Chelsea, Big Ben 2. Inside Big Ben clocktower 3. Mayfair 4. Knightsbridge 5. Kensington 6. Hyde Park, fireworks for Guy Fawkes, Nov. 5 7. Sim Owner Debs Regent at Fireworks
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