A New Lease on Life – Adam Hsu and Alex Pasternack

That’s Beijing has a feature on the new Chnese virtual worlds that are trying to compete with Second Life:

200711CfhphIf is populated by only the occasional virtual Chinatown, the Beijing-born HiPiHi World turns the whole metaverse Chinese. With capital investment over USD 3 million and interest from foreign companies like Intel and Google, the software is already stirring buzz as Second Life’s main competitor and potentially as China’s biggest foray into “Web 3.0.” And though it counts thousands of beta users, the hasn’t even officially opened yet (a public test is scheduled for later this year).

Just don’t call a game, at least not when talking to founder and CEO Hui Xu. The 39-year-old Internet entrepreneur likes to point to companies like IBM and Reuters, which have set up offices in Second Life, as well as governments like the Maldives, which maintains a virtual embassy there. “Is it possible for HiPiHi, which already has 30,000 users, to attract attention from the media, commercial institutions and even governments around the world,” he asks, “if it is merely a game?”

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