Sunday, 24 January 2010

United Nations Citizen: Is this for real?

Like many others I was intrigued when the first reports of a new virtual world, called United Nations Citizen (UNC), first appeared in mid January, especially when it appears to be built on the CryEngine2. Like many others I was dismayed to find it was more of a marketing tool than a virtual world after watching the promotional videos on their website.

However, the more I looked into UNC the more confused I became, then the more suspicious. Was this an elaborate hoax, or a scam, or was it for real?

The only official press release I could find was this, from Christy Wilson at the HeadsAndTails website. The release states that:

Cisco Systems and Equifax have partnered with Heads & Tails TV, Faithful Friends TV & Montage Systems, to create United Nations Citizens, a virtual living environment for consumers and businesses, unveiled today at the 99th Annual National Retailers Federation Expo in New York.

The webpage then gives three Links, to,, and (curiously, there was no link to the main UNC website). The above press release also gives the name of the new virtual world as United Nations Citizens (plural), while the official website of UNC gives their name as United Nations Citizen (singular).

On visiting the website I could find no mention of this collaboration with Equifax et al, nor any mention of United Nations Citizen. To be on the safe side, in case I missed something, I did a Google search on their entire website and this too failed to find any references whatsoever.

I then visited and found this to be a free parked webpage on The whois for this site does not give a name for the registrant, but the address is stated to be Bonsall, California (UNC also state on their website that they are located in Bonsall).

Undeterred, I then visited the website of Equifax, the credit rating agency. Again, I could find no mention of this partnership with Cisco, and a Google search of their website confirmed what I had found, nothing. The UNC website gives this for the role of Equifax:

EquiFax provides the backend geo-targeting real-time data mining to ensure that content distributed matches the consumer demographics, psychographics and profiling opportunities only available in-world.

Data mining? Profiling opportunities?

I got the same result with Montage Systems, but I did have some luck with Faithful Friends TV. Their website did have a link back to the main United Nations Citizen website. However, the contact us link on their website brought up my Outlook Express with the To: field made out to , yes, the same Christy Wilson at the source of the original press release at Heads and Tails TV. Full circle.

I then turned my attention to the  99th Annual National Retailers Federation Expo, after all, this is where UNC was unveiled. The Exhibitor list for this Expo does not list United Nations Citizen at all, nor does it list Faithful Friends, Heads and Tails TV, Montage Systems, nor Avatar2154. Cisco did have 5 booths at the Expo, but the notes did not mention United Nations Citizen, nor anything remotely connected with virtual worlds either.

UNC may be for real, but until I see an official press release from Cisco, I will continue to have my doubts.