HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Wagner James Au

Authority on Virtual Goods, Social Gaming, and Virtual Worlds


  • How Virtual Goods are Transforming Business and Our World (Mostly for the Better)
  • Facebook Gaming: Trends and Opportunities in Game's Biggest Genre
  • Social and Economic Trends in Virtual Worlds and 3D Interaction
  • What Second Life Teaches Us About the State of Online Entertainment and User-Generated Content Today


More Media
  • Video: Wagner James Au - New World Notes

  • Video: W. James (Hamlet) Au on Why Second Life Won't Go Away

Wagner James Au has written about high-tech culture for over 10 years, and is the author of The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World (HarperBusiness). Currently he's an analyst for Media Bistro's Social Times Pro, specializing in virtual goods and Facebook gaming. He's most recently been a consultant for social gaming startup Ohai, virtual world developer Avatar Reality, and MMO publisher Outspark.

Au has also been a freelance writer, a metaverse consultant, a game developer, a screenwriter, and most pertinently for his book, a white-suited avatar named "Hamlet Au." The first embedded journalist in a virtual world, "Hamlet Au" is a role he still plays on his blog, New World Notes (nwn.blogs.com). Au and his writing on virtual worlds, gaming, and Second Life have been profiled in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Harvard Business Review, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, BBC, CNN International, and NPR's All Things Considered, among many other places.

From 2006-2009, Au was a contributing editor writing about the game industry, online worlds, and tech culture for GigaOM.com, one of the web's most popular blogs on Internet business and tech. He has spoken on all aspects of the above at such places as The Milken Institute, South by Southwest in Austin, Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, O'Reilly's ETech series, and twice at State of Play.

The Making of Second Life tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Internet industry's most improbable enterprise: the creation of a virtual 3-D world with its own culture, events, businesses and social systems. Now the largest 3-D virtual world on the market, Second Life was incredibly influential on Internet trends we now take for granted: virtual goods, user-generated content, and interaction via avatars. Contracted in 2003 by Linden Lab, Second Life's creator, to work as an "embedded journalist," Au has had unprecedented access to Second Life's users and the company's founders, who went on to become major players at YouTube, Facebook, and other leading social media companies.

Originally from Kailua on Oahu, Au now lives in San Francisco, California. When he needs to escape the virtual world, he enjoys reality-oriented hobbies such as travel, foreign policy, good food, sunlight, and surfing (poorly.)

Praise for Wagner James Au and The Making of Second Life

“No one knows Second Life better, or, more important, its extraordinary importance to first life.”

—Laurence Lessig, professor Stanford Law School

“Historically, it’s a first – first-hand documentation of an entire virtual world, almost from inception.”

—Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs and The Virtual Community

“Wagner James Au has long been one of the most informed and engaging reporters on contemporary games culture. As an embedded journalist in Second Life, he is uniquely situated to explain this complex intersection of cultural and technological developments. He knows the people, has shared the experiences, can see past the hype, and tell us what really maters about life in virtual worlds.”

—Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide