Why actually drive down and walk into the city council meetings when you can watch the proceedings from the comfort of your sticky-note encrusted desk? The city of Decatur, Georgia is considering creating a virtual version of their town to “encourage community networking, improve civic engagement, and promote economic development,” and in virtual Decatur, citizens could chat, interact with local government, and even unlock achievements.
The idea of moving applicable city services online in an MMO-style virtual world is fantastic, and since Decatur’s “achievements” (Game|Life’s word) translate to coupons and discounts at local businesses as rewards for interaction, this might be worth spreading to other cities. Finally, all that time spent navigating the freak parade in Second Life might come in handy!
With fewer people interacting face-to-face, this sort of move toward practical virtual worlds may become very common. Virtual Decatur is still in the early planning stages, but it might be interesting to watch this develop.