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Reuters opens virtual office to report from Second Life

LONDON - Second Life, the virtual reality game world, is to have its own Reuters journalist keeping people in the real world abreast of events in the virtual one.

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As part of the move, which made the front page of today's Guardian, the news agency will place its own correspondent in Second Life. Called Adam Reuters, in reality he is a London-based media reporter named Adam Pasick.

Pasick will report goings-on within the game, such as wars, crimes and business news. Conversely, residents of Second Life will be able to keep abreast of events in the real world by visiting the Reuters building in the game world.

Second Life is inhabited by 380,834 users. There is about $3.2m of real money within the game and about $70,000 is traded daily on its currency exchange. Companies including Reebok, American Apparel and Sony have set up businesses in Second Life and are involved in commercial activities such as selling clothes and creating online music festivals.

Professor Adrian Monck, head of journalism and publishing at City University, was dismissive of Reuters' move. "It's more fascinating to report on the kind of people who spend half their lives living our fantasies in those kind of places," he said in The Guardian. "In my opinion, it's still the people behind the computer that are the most interesting thing."

Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide have also opened offices in the game, which was created by San Francisco-based Linden Labs.

In the game, individuals can create avatars and pursue alternate virtual lives, with their own cars and homes.

The virtual world also has a dark underbelly where users can indulge in digital sex, while in reality they just tap away at their keyboards.

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