updated 5/17/2007 10:09:23 AM ET 2007-05-17T14:09:23

Two of the best-known entrepreneurs in game-like online spaces known as "virtual worlds" plan to give out awards for the burgeoning industry.

Ailin Graef, a Chinese-born real-estate mogul in the "Second Life" world, and Miami-based Jon Jacobs, who owns an asteroid in "Entropia Universe," announced this week that they've created a Virtual Worlds Academy.

The academy will accept nominations on its Web site for categories like "Best Virtual World," "Best Virtual Fashion Designer" and "Most Dynamic Virtual Economy."

The winners will be announced in February and will receive virtual statues at "live" ceremonies in "Second Life" and "Entropia Universe."

The goal is to "recognize achievements in all areas of virtual artistry, technology, commerce and culture," said the founders, who are better known under their online names: Graef is "Anshe Chung" and Jacobs is "Neverdie."

"I guess all industries get to the point of having awards and I see no reason why the virtual worlds one should be any different," said Ren Reynolds, a British consultant who follows the industry.

"It looks like a good move for Anshe as she is building a brand around a service organization that spans virtual worlds," Reynolds added.

Beyond "Second Life," Graef has business interests in "Entropia Universe," "There" and "IMVU." She has 60 full-time employees.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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