The New York Times reports on MTV’s latest online venture, Virtual Laguna Beach, “an online service in which fans of the program can immerse themselves—or at least can immerse digitized, three-dimensional characters, called avatars, that they control—in virtual versions of the show’s familiar seaside hangouts.” They turn to Henry Jenkins for context:
To design Virtual Laguna Beach and the other forthcoming 3-D online communities, MTV enlisted Makena Technologies, the creator of There.com. Henry Jenkins, a professor at M.I.T. and the author of “Convergence Culture,” said such virtual communities were a natural next step for mainstream media companies seeking to deepen their connections to fans.
He said “Laguna Beach” was an interesting choice for the first venture because it had a heavily female audience and because the show itself was such a blur of real, unreal and sort of real. “It’s just layer upon layer of reality and fiction,” Mr. Jenkins said.
“A decade ago, published fan fiction mostly came from women in their 20s, 30s and beyond,” he writes. “Today, these older writers have been joined by a generation of new contributors, who found fan fiction (while) surfing the Internet and decided to see what they could produce.”