Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is Citzalia a Missed Opportunity for Second Life?

cc image courtesy
When I first learned that the European Parliament was venturing into virtual worlds to help improve citizens' understanding how the EU democracy worked I was intrigued. I just assumed based on the initial reports about avatars and building reconstructions that Second Life was the platform.

What a good example of how Second Life might be used to help realize that "improve the human condition" vision. I was wrong.

Introducing Citzalia
Citzalia is democracy in action. It is a role playing game and social networking forum wrapped in a virtual 3D world that captures the essence of the European Parliament. You may even recognise parts of the building.
Citzalia is a world you inhabit and help create. Using your avatar you can walk around, interact, network, debate the issues of today, propose legislation, vote and learn about how the European Parliament works for citizens. You can be a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), a journalist, a student or any role you want to create.
Others will be able to vote on the quality of your proposals and you will be able to vote on theirs. By earning experience points you will be able move up to new expert levels in Citzalia.
Current Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and European officials will be on hand to guide you through the procedures and provide background information.

The initial cost to develop democracy in action - €275,000 (~ $353,000) - and this is what it looks like.

As you can see, Citzalia is more Metaplace than Second Life, but even in the most primordial state, Metaplace was more visually appealing than these first images.

Citzalia is currently accepting beta users, and when completed will include a Citizens' Agora to debate EU issues, a Press Room where articles can be published to the Citzalia newspaper, a EU Lex Lab forum offering a simulation of the legislative process, a library, a Kids' Zone and an Exhibition Hall. Participants will be able to create their own offices which they can furnish and decorate with pictures, their own blog, Web cam and voice messages.

Once a participant has tabled a legislative proposal, other players will be able to vote on it. By contributing to the discussions and content, participants accumulate experience points, which appear on their profiles. EU officials hope the game will provide a platform for debate and discussion of the issues that have been, are or can be addressed by MEPs.

I think this was a missed opportunity for the EU Parliament as well as Second Life. There is already a healthy base of EU Residents in world and there isn't anything in the experience of Citzalia that could not be delivered except possibly the Kid's Zone. Well there was the Teen Grid ... 

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