In the spring of 2008 Congressional hearing on online virtual worlds, Colin Paris, vice president of Digital Convergence for IBM, spoke of the potential IBM sees for virtual environments: “With the global transformation of enterprise and government processes made possible through the use of virtual worlds, we envision both an increase in entrepreneurial activities and growth in current business. Over the past decade and a half, the Internet has taught us there will be a new generation of companies created that provide business and consumer value with this new technology and interactive model. We will also see current businesses remaking themselves to engage in these opportunities and prospering as a result. There will be opportunities to create new virtual worlds and environments to augment and redefine marketing and commerce, to support virtual collaboration and events, to integrate them into real-world events, to drive new modes of training and education, and to change and streamline business process management and operations.”
IBM CODESTATION Sponsored by IBM Rational®
“One of the most compelling aspects of Second Life is that it is created by its inhabitants. IBM Rational Software works in Second Life to further this creativity with its IBM CODESTATION island. CODESTATION was created with developers in mind,” explained Cheryl Elliman, worldwide advertising manager, IBM WebSphere® and Rational Software. “Developers want to create and share within the community. CODESTATION provides a venue for them to create code and then share it with each other in the CODESTATION Code Library.”
CODESTATION is also home to a coder’s labyrinth where developers race a “bot” through the maze and avoid bugs to get a high score competing against themselves or other developers. After they’ve mastered the basics, they can test their Second Life scripting skills to enhance the bot and improve labyrinth navigation. “What we are doing with CODESTATION is an extension of our approach in the real world,” said Elliman. “In the real world, with open-source and Eclipse-based development resources, IBM is a contributing partner in bringing about more efficient and reliable coding resources. CODESTATION is extending that approach in a virtual world.”
This Second Life Island also has a pavilion where events are held. In fact, CODESTATION is viewed as a general meeting place for the Second Life development community. “It’s not a proprietary IBM place,” says Elliman. “We envisioned it more as a gathering place for all Second Life coders and First Life developers.” In fact, IBM chose to work with other developer programs to populate an Archipelago in Second Life meant specifically for developers instead of putting it with all the other IBM islands. This creates a broader sense of community for collaboration.
To build interest in CODESTATION, Rational launched the Sentinel 2.0 Coder’s Challenge, which ran the Summer of 2007. It was kicked off with a series of four teaser machinima videos that told the story of an evil villain, Double Bad Bugra, who had invaded CODESTATION and destroyed Sentinel, the hero who protected CODESTATION. Sentinel’s body parts had been scattered around Second Life, and the coders were challenged to go find the body parts, reassemble them, and code them to be even stronger using the Second Life scripting language. The final challenge was for the top rebuilt Sentinels to compete against the villain in a final match. More than 900 developers completed all five rounds of the challenge to be eligible for the final match, which was immortalized in a video starring the winning Sentinel and voiceover of the winning contestant, as well as credits thanking all that participated. The challenge was promoted on ibm.com/developerWorks, YouTube, kiosks throughout Second Life, and through e-mail and viral marketing on other developer-focused Web sites and blogs. CODESTATION is also home for the virtual conference that runs in parallel with the physical Rational Software Development Conference in 2007 and 2008. According to Kathy Mandelstein (also known as Kat Dancer), director of worldwide marketing programs for Rational, “Last year we had more than 1,000 virtual attendees who attended the opening night party we cohosted with Dr. Dobb’s Development Journal, watched daily video keynotes from the conference, and visited virtual demos. We also had Grady Booch, IBM Fellow and founder of Rational, attend the conference virtually from Second Life both in world and in the real world because he was on the other side of the world celebrating his twentieth anniversary that week.” Scott Hebner, vice president of Marketing (known as Hebs Heberle) and emcee for the event joined Grady in Second Life during the conference keynote and then came back to real life on stage later in the presentation. “This was the first time we have tried intertwining virtual worlds with the real-world conference, and it proved to be a real success and a lot of fun for both the virtual and real world attendees,” says Hebner.
Mandelstein goes on to say, “This year we took it one step further by completely integrating our R-Heroes conference theme into our virtual conference on CODESTATION.” A series of graphic novel-style machinima videos chronicling the members of the R-Heroes team, who are superheroes based on members of the development team who collaborate to overcome the challenges of software delivery, were created in Second Life using R-hero character avatars. Three trailers were used to promote the conference, as well as new episodes with cliffhangers featured each day of the conference. In the first month of promotion, there were more than 2,000 views of the trailers. Tobring the theme to life in the virtual conference, the R-Hero avatars also hosted “Meet the Experts” sessions for their area of expertise on CODESTATION during the conference. Rational also celebrated its five-year anniversary at IBM with a virtual birthday party in Second Life hosted by Grady Booch. Booch is also sponsoring an IBM Research project called Project
Bluegrass, incorporating a virtual world interface into the Jazz Technology Platform, which all of Rational’s future products will be based on.