Recent quotes:

Some video games are good for older adults' brains -- ScienceDaily

"3-D video games engage the hippocampus into creating a cognitive map, or a mental representation, of the virtual environment that the brain is exploring.," said West. "Several studies suggest stimulation of the hippocampus increases both functional activity and gray matter within this region." Conversely, when the brain is not learning new things, gray matter atrophies as people age. "The good news is that we can reverse those effects and increase volume by learning something new, and games like Super Mario 64, which activate the hippocampus, seem to hold some potential in that respect," said West. Added Belleville: "These findings can also be used to drive future research on Alzheimer's, since there is a link between the volume of the hippocampus and the risk of developing the disease."

mistakes

. So much of lived experience is composed of what lies beyond our agency and prediction, beyond our grasp, beyond our imagining. In the perfected landscapes of Second Life, I kept remembering what a friend had once told me about his experience of incarceration: Having his freedom taken from him meant not only losing access to the full range of the world’s possible pleasure, but also losing access to the full range of his own possible mistakes. Maybe the price of a perfected world, or a world where you can ostensibly control everything, is that much of what strikes us as “experience” comes from what we cannot forge ourselves, and what we cannot ultimately abandon.

Will home be obliterated by virtual life?

When I asked Rosedale whether he stood behind the predictions he’d made during the early years of Second Life—that the locus of our lives would become virtual, and that the physical world would start to seem like a museum—he didn’t recant. Just the opposite: He said that at a certain point we would come to regard the real world as an “archaic, lovable place” that was no longer crucial. “What will we do with our offices when we no longer use them?” he wondered. “Will we play racquetball in them?” I pressed him on this. Did he really think that certain parts of the physical world—the homes we share with our families, for example, or the meals we enjoy with our friends, our bodies leaning close across tables—would someday cease to matter? Did he really believe that our corporeal selves weren’t fundamental to our humanity? I was surprised by how rapidly he conceded. The sphere of family would never become obsolete, he said—the physical home, where we choose to spend time with the people we love. “That has a more durable existence,” he said. “As I think you’d agree.”

Second Life Still Has 600,000 Regular Users - The Atlantic

In July, Linden Lab launched a beta version of a new platform called Sansar, billed as the next frontier: a three-dimensional world designed for use with a virtual-reality headset such as Oculus Rift. The company’s faith, along with the recent popularity of VR in the tech world (a trend that Facebook’s purchase of Oculus VR attests to), raises a larger question. If advances in virtual reality solve the problem of a cumbersome interface, will they ultimately reveal a widespread desire to plunge more fully into virtual worlds unfettered by glitches, lags, and keyboards?

Seeking density

an early study by Linden Lab that found the vast majority of Second Life users lived in rural rather than urban areas in real life. They came to Second Life for what their physical lives lacked: the concentration, density, and connective potential of urban spaces; the sense of things happening all around them; the possibility of being part of that happening.

Second Life Still Has 600,000 Regular Users - The Atlantic

But if Second Life promised a future in which people would spend hours each day inhabiting their online identity, haven’t we found ourselves inside it? Only it’s come to pass on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter instead. As I learned more about Second Life, and spent more time exploring it, it started to seem less like an obsolete relic and more like a distorted mirror reflecting the world many of us live in. Perhaps Second Life inspires an urge to ridicule not because it’s unrecognizable, but because it takes a recognizable impulse and carries it past the bounds of comfort, into a kind of uncanny valley: not just the promise of an online voice, but an online body; not just checking Twitter on your phone, but forgetting to eat because you’re dancing at an online club; not just a curated version of your real life, but a separate existence entirely. It crystallizes the simultaneous siren call and shame of wanting an alternate life. It raises questions about where unfettered fantasy leads, as well as about how we navigate the boundary between the virtual and the real.

Virtual reality reduces phantom pain in paraplegics -- ScienceDaily

"We tapped the back of the subject near the shoulders and the subject experienced the illusion that the tapping originated from the paralyzed legs," explains Polona Pozeg, co-author of the study and now neuroscientist at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV). "This is because the subject also received visual stimuli of dummy legs being tapped, viewed through the virtual reality headset, so the subject saw them immersively as his or her own legs."

Exercise contagion in a global social network : Nature Communications

Less active runners influence more active runners, but not the reverse. Both men and women influence men, while only women influence other women.

Hogwarts Running Club launches world's biggest virtual race

“Games are not just a source of entertainment,” writes Jane McGonigal, who analyzed the power of game-power and virtual communities in her book Super Better. “They are a model for how to become the best version of ourselves.”

Human cognitive map scales according to surroundings -- ScienceDaily

Humans rescale their internal coordinate system according to the size of each new environment. This flexibility differs from rodents' rigid map that has a constant grid scale and empowers humans to navigate diverse places. When seeking navigational cues in any given location, humans automatically align their internal compass with the corners and shape of the space. In contrast, rodents do so relative to the walls of the environment through physical exploration. The nature of the coordinate system differs between humans and rodents -- Cartesian and hexagonal respectively. The findings illuminate the fabric of the human memory and spatial navigation, which are vulnerable to disease and deterioration. Deeper knowledge of these neuronal mechanisms can inform the development of techniques to prolong the health of this part of the brain and combat diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Why virtual reality could be a mental health gamechanger | Science | The Guardian

We’ve just completed the first review of every study that has used VR to assess, understand, and treat mental health conditions. The earliest was undertaken almost 25 years ago, at a time when the cost and complexity of the equipment and programming meant that research was confined to a very small number of specialist centres. Since then 285 studies have been published. Most of those have focused on using VR to treat anxiety disorders and particularly phobias, social anxiety, and PTSD. The results have been encouraging — VR is a proven means of delivering rapid, lasting improvements.

Ingress Has the World as Its Game Board

This blend of real-world, multiplayer interaction and complex digital strategy sets Ingress apart from other mobile games. Nodding to childhood pastimes like Capture the Flag as well as to vast online simulations like World of Warcraft, Ingress is one of the first popular games built using augmented reality, a technology that overlays virtual objects onto the real world. Developed by Google geolocation engineers and released to the public in December 2013, Ingress has more than one million active players in 4,000 communities worldwide, including heavy concentrations in the United States, Japan and Europe. Last year, Google spun out the development team into a separate company called Niantic.