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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 January 2007, 15:55 GMT
Second Lifers get hands on code
Screen grab from Second Life
Second Life allows residents to try out new things
The creator of the hugely popular virtual world Second Life is releasing some of its code to the open source community.

Access to the source code for its Viewer software will allow residents to have a say in new developments.

The software enables gamers to control their in-world avatars, interact with each other and buy and sell objects.

Linden Lab described the move as the most important it had made in the seven years of Second Life.

Creative and talented

"While it is clearly a bold step for us to proactively decide to open source our code, it is entirely in keeping with the community-creation approach of Second Life," said Cory Ondrejka, chief technology officer at Linden Lab.

"Second Life has the most creative and talented group of users ever assembled and it is time to allow them to contribute to the Viewer's development," he said.

He admitted that he didn't know what projects would emerge but expected initial tinkerings to include bug fixes, improvements to compatibility with less common hardware configurations and even new look and feel "skins" for the Viewer itself.

All code developed outside Linden Lab's in-house team will be thoroughly reviewed to ensure quality standards, stability and security.

"We feel we have a responsibility to improve and grow Second Life as rapidly as possible," commented Philip Rosedale, chief executive of Linden Lab.

Second Life was the first virtual world to enable subscribers to own the rights to the intellectual property they created.

The popularity of Second Life has seen companies competing for a presence there and some residents have become unhappy with the increasing commercialisation of their environment.

Estimates put the economic value of Second Life in 2005 at $64m (33m). The simulation already has its first virtual millionaire in Anshe Chung who has racked up more than one million Linden dollars trading in real estate in Second Life.

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