The good side of MAXIS

Now…it’s no secret that my thesis will be pretty much MAXIS bashing about dictatorial rule and the designers not realizing that they have a political role in the game a.s.o. But today I learned that MAXIS actually does some nice things as well. This weekend for example, they’re letting us run around skilling and making money as much as we want without having to worry about our Sim’s needs (hunger, bladder, energy a.s.o). Very considerate and nice of them, I think. Too bad I’ll be away at a wedding this weekend, so I can’t reek the benefits of it.
I also learned that when you’re played for two years you receive a Mystery Tree, which is worth a few million simoleons.
Which also got me thinking of something else. Very many of these players have played for a long time! Ever since beta in September 2002. Now, they’re pretty much maxed on their skills and worth quite a lot of money. When there’s nothing left to spend all the money on, what is MAXIS going to do, I wonder. Delete and start over? No, that would cause an uproar!

TSO subcultures

There are many interesting aspects to TSO gaming. I was very intrigued about a week ago when I finally logged on to one of the radio stations while playing the game, Maxed Out Radio with the fabulous DJ Benny. I had the best time ever in TSO!
There’s an aspect to the game called skilling and it can get so boring. But I’m kinda understanding a genius around the design aspect. Because it’s so boring and because it takes forever…players are finding ways to amuse themselves. Radio being one of them. I had a great time in the game that day and made several new friends (which is essential to the game).
Now this is pretty innocent and nice…but there’s more. I’ve often heard other sims talk about ‘the patch’! It is a program, not designed by MAXIS, that enables your sim to be naked. I’ve never really felt the necessity for it, until I was running around in a sprinkler in my bikini the other day and everyone laughed and told me I was running around topless. And since I didn’t have ‘the patch’ I couldn’t see it and couldn’t do anything about it. So I decided to try and look for a site that offered this download and OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There’s a whole Sim sex culture out there! I’m not going to bother listing all the sites I found. It just blew my mind away!

Gamers democrats?

I’ve played TSO for 4 months now. It wasn’t until my tv broke in April that I really got into it. Since then….I’ve had some very interesting conversations with other players. The population of the city, Alphaville is about 80% Americans (figure taken off the top of my head). My advisor and I had a conversation about how I could force governmental policy out of the game and came to the conclusion that I should be a griefer and see what happened to me….if the residents themselves took action or if MAXIS would inetervene. I thought a great way to do this was to throw lots of dirt in the Sims air about Bush. Now, I never could bring myself to grief. To me it was like standing in the middle of the town square shouting abuse at other people, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Now I understand that my master plan would never have worked either. Most TSO players can’t stand Bush! In fact, I don’t think I’ve met anyone that actually likes him or are Republican for that matter! And the conversation comes up very often, even without me initiating it. It makes me wonder if most gamers are democrats. Just an interesting observation I thought I’d share with whoever actually bothers to read this blog! I would love to investigate it further.
I have also noticed, however, that just because Americans are democrats, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re open minded about the rest of the world or races for that matter!

Bamse and Aquarius Posted by Hello
Bamse was kind enough to give me a picture of the event! Isn’t this just lovely?!!
They’re getting married again June 4th at 24hrs, Norwegian time (sorry I can’t be bothered finding out the different times for everyone)

For those of you non TSO players! Sign up!!! It’s a 14 day free trial…let me know if you’re coming and I’ll show you around a bit!

Once again, Terra Nova saves my life!

Thanks to Terra Nova, my thoughts and frustrations have been cleared! For a long time now, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to look at game design as a political force within virtual worlds! Sure, Julian Dibbel and others (see list of papers) have helped, but my it wasn’t until I read James Grimmelmann’s ‘Virtual Power Politics’ that things just suddenly became clearer about what the hell I’m spending all those hours in TSO for!
Suddenly Klabbers, Zimmerman, Turkle, Taylor, Castronova, Jenkins (basically anyone you can find on the right hand side of the blog, are connecting in my mind! And I can’t wait to start writing my thesis!!! Finally I can inform my advisor of some progress!
Want to write more, but need to dash! Very important football match today!!! ;))
But thank you Terra Nova! Don’t know how I would survive without you!!!

Congratulations to Bamse and Aquarius

Attended my first TSO wedding yesterday, and it was lovely! A bit…ROTFL, but also very sweet! Was particularly touched by Aquarious’ ability to express her love in Norwegian!!
A bit embarrassed cause I didn’t have a present to bring, but they’re getting married again soon, so I suppose I’ll have a chance to make up then!!
So congratulations Bamse and Aquarius!!! May you have a long and wonderful time together!!
And thank you so much for the invite!

Stupid, stupid me!

Right…just realised that it has been virtually (such a weird word to use these days) impossible to post comments on this blog! So I presume many have tried and failed! No wonder I’ve felt so lonely!;)
Everything should be ok now. I’m in the middle of trying to get a good picture of Dekcuf in the profile, but as you can see my technical design abilities are dreadful! (Sean!!! I need you!!!)
Hope to have something better soon! Was bored with the picture of me eating in Korea and also wanted to have this blog available for potential interviewees, without having to give out too many personal details! Of course it could be argued that I’ve been living in Alphaville more than in the real world, so the image of Dekcuf seems more like me than the image I see in the mirror!!!;)
More coming in just a few hours! Have to read through some new papers about designers being the governing control of MMORPGs, something I think I might start disagreeing with!

Nerd, geek – a good thing?

Well, it had to come up eventually, didn’t it? I seriously don’t know anymore. I don’t know if I’ve started to be accustomed to nerd culture, or if it’s actually really cool. I keep thinking of ‘The revenge of the nerds’ films. The film represents nerds, yes, but the booger man? Is that supposed to be a nerd? And then I google it and find this lovely test (you have to try it) and realise that I’m 30% nerd, and I’m quite sure I can safely say that my dad is 100%! But then I notice that people use the word ‘nerd’ in such a positive attitude. Just because they’re really interested in, I don’t know, reading the news, they label themselves as nerds.
So I tried looking up the word in my parent’s 80’s versions of Websters and Oxfords Dictionary, and Encyclopedia Britannica, and you know what? The word isn’t even listed! But as a fanatical worshipper of the Good Lord Wikipedia, I was saved! Nerd!!!

The Sadness of gamers

Often, when I explain to people what it is I’m writing my thesis on, they often comment on what sad people these gamers are. They can’t live properly in real life so they have to live in a pretend one, a.s.o. I must admit that although I was fascinated by these virtual worlds, I kinda thought the same thing.
Now, however, I’ve become clinically addicted to The Sims Online. It is just terrible. I might start playing at 10pm and suddenly look at my watch and realise it’s 8 am. Before, I thought this game was sooooooo boring. And I suppose it still is actually, it just depends on who you play with! Now that I’ve been playing for a while I’ve met some really interesting people and had some amusing conversations, and I’m starting to consider these people my friends. It’s weird, because when I’m out with real life friends I may find myself slapping my thigh with a great laugh and saying something like “You’ll never guess what DevilsEyes told me yesterday! It was so funny!”. Thankfully, most of my friends do find these stories quite amusing, but there is a sense of awkwardness as well. I see that they may not recognise who I am anymore, and are kinda scared that I might turn into one of these ‘sad’ TSO players. I must admit that I’m quite concerned myself! I’m more than happy to sit alone at home, by myself, with a few beers and playing TSO.
My mind has started to change however. I’m not exactly sure of what is sadder. Going out drinking with the same friends (that I love), laughing at the same stuff and making a fool of myself the same way (over and over and over again) or that I’m meeting new people from all across the world, building things in virtual reality and being introduced to new ways of thinking. Now, see, I don’t know if I’ve become brain washed here, or if our ‘outside’ interpretation of TSO players is just worped and wrong! Sigh! Although I have to say, it was quite daunting the other night when I actually dreamt about another sim. It was very strange! I didn’t dream about what he may look like or be like in real life. I dreamt about him, as the Sim he is and my Dekcuf. We were in TSO’s Alphaville as well! Hmmmmmmm….I think this thesis is going to drive me mad!!!!