"We live in a virtual world anyway"

BBC News Technology has an interesting article on yet another Robbie Cooper project. I love these little ‘who’s behind the avatar projects. This one seems to focus on the people making ‘real’ money playing MMORPGs in China and Korea. I’m a bit disappointed however because he seems to focus on the economies we already know about like, powerleveling, avatar clothes and niche ‘virtual’ objects. I’m disappointed because I’ve started to think about the innovating minds that are making money from the more social/cultural attributes of online gaming. Such as private investigators, marriage ‘priests’ (whatever the taste of the game world), prostitution and those that provide basic in-game entertainment (music, literature, games a.s.o.). There’s a market here as well and it should be investigated a little more…but I’m not sure how. Which I suppose also reminds me that I should get caught up on my T.L. Taylor reading.

I love this quote from Robbie Cooper:

“We live in a virtual world anyway, ” says Mr. Cooper. “Democracy is virtual, politics is virtual; all this stuff and information we get in the newspaper – a lot of it is public relations stuff.”

It kinda reinforces my curiosity of what the word ‘virtual’ actually entails in our era.

There’s also two confirmational points that screamed out to me from the article.

1) That Chinese and Korean online guilds meet up regularly in the ‘real’. Which brings me back to my trip to Korea. This was at a time when I hardly knew what online gaming was, but even then I was mesmerised by how sociable internet cafés were. There was always a sociable couch or/and bar element. And they sat there in groups with their own laptops having a great time with drinks, laughter and computers. It amazed me and I’m wondering if this is the big difference between the west and the east. Here, online gaming is considered to be a geeky loner type hobby, while over there it seemed to be a group activity both in reality and virtuality (oh dear, what a word!).
2) That it seems to be generally accepted that gameplay is utterly and miserably boring in the beginning of MMORPGs and that the power levelling ‘commodity’ is an accepted solution. Instead of calling for the game designers to make the beginning more ‘fun’. On the subject of power levelling Mr Cooper states; “From their point of view it is understandable. When a new game comes out, do you want to start at the bottom or have someone do that for you to get to level at which it is fun to play?”. Personally, I find power levelling annoying. The beginning is painful and slow, but in that process you also learn so much about socialising and language, which I think is essential. Power levelling kinda ruins this and I think we should be focusing on making things more ‘fun’ for beginners. But that’s just my opinion!

Speaking of power levelling one of my favorite blogs, Wonderland, has picked up on yet another ‘sexy females and gaming’ site. This one is ‘Enjoy WoW’ which offers ‘sexy vixen consultants’ who sell powerlevelling in World of Warcraft. You should take a look, it’s quite funny really!

Anyways! Cooper’s exhibition will open in Amsterdam on November 9th and I’m hoping it will go on tour!!!

Yet another great contest!

Water Cooler Games has yet another post on a great new competition:


This one is about creating a flash game where the theme is ‘peace games’. There is also a contest for an animated intro with the theme ‘conflicts, war and peace: solidarity and justice to guarantee human rights and peace’ and an animated short film about ‘conflicts: between the cult of war and the culture of peace’. First prize is 8000 Euros and international, so anyone can submit!

Unfortunately the entries have to be in by November 30th – so I probably noticed this a bit too late. Sorry about that! But maybe be on a look out for it next year!

A great initiative and yet another inspiration as to what we can try and do here in Norway to get the industry going. Hmmm….I’m also thinking that this would be a great inspiration for design classes. Just a thought!

Note: I bought my laptop in August this year and Im wondering…I can’t find the Euro sign anywhere on my keyboard. Is it hidden somewhere? It seems just absolutely ridiculous that it’s not available!

Funding for eager game designers

Now see, I’m so lost I had never heard of MTVu, and I’m wondering, has any Norwegian?!
Anyways they’re offering $50K for the best proposal on an online video game about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. They’re calling for ‘digital activists’ (what an american word)! I think it’s a pretty cool initiative, although it may be just a tad consumer panicky!

There’s also a competition for creating a game on diplomacy – seems very American, but anyone can apply!

You game?

How did I miss this?!

I’ve been too busy playing journalist (and finding out I’m crap at it) so I hadn’t noticed the events in Korea! And OMFG!!!! It’s happening! It’s really happening! The Korean Fair Trade Comission has undergone an extensive investigation on consumer complaints of MMOG companies and have now released their conclusions. I’m too excited to actually take the time to understand the details (I am literally jumping up and down here, how sad am I?!) so:

“…the comission published its findings based on the Adhesion Contract Act, and they are sweeping: of twelve tos/coc clauses examined, eight were declared legally void”

I think this means that some of the things listed in the article have actually become law!! And get this, they’re actually saying that “Avatars are promoted to human, while God like developers descended to human”! WOW!!!!!!

They’re talking about compensation to the player for time lost when servers are down!!!! It’s just madness!! I really don’t think they’ve thought this through. I mean, I know I’m writing a thesis on player’s rights and all, but COME ON! This is insane!!

Anyways…there’s a new fantastic site/blog on Korean gaming news called Gamestudy.org. Absolute gold!!!!

Sigh…I’m still in shock!!

I’m going mad!

I’m sitting here trying to write another summary of Aesthetics of Play, but in Norwegian…and I’ve honestly never been more confused! First of all, I’m not sure I understand the language of Computer Game Studies (even that is a questionable choice of words) and then trying to find the Norwegian words? I’m not even sure we have a Norwegian word for mimetic…does anyone know? Do we? And then there’s the relative easy words like Game Space, which I honestly don’t feel the direct translation encompasses. But then I suppose this is what academia is all about, language. Which I think kinda reinforces the importance of looking at digital games in Norwegian academics. And I suppose I’m annoyed with myself for taking the easy way out and writing my thesis in English (if it ever actually does get written, ofcourse)! Sorry, I’m just venting out my frustration here. I just hate the feeling of having so much I want to discuss, but not being able to communicate my thoughts because I STILL haven’t figured out the language!

Unhappy Birthday

I just love this!!! Stay Free! has an article making fun of the law on public performances of copyrighted works. Carrie McLaren has written an entertaining letter asking for permission to sing happy birthday on her father’s 75th birthday. Nothing to do with gaming, I know, but I just love these humorous outcries about the ludicrousness of our patent conrolled society.

Aesthetics of Play Sum Up Part 1

Ok…lets see if I can get this over with. I’m still not sure if I understand exactly what was going on this weekend…but let me give it my best shot! I’m not exactly sure how to sum it all up. I suppose the conference was about the different ways in which to study games, in particular how to study the play of games.
Espen Aarseth started it all with a bang, questioning what computer games really are. With the usual components such as, games not being fiction but fiction being a part of games, so we’re not playing a story. And that computers are the perfect simulator platform for games, but there’s trouble behind such a statement as well, what is simulation and what is computing? That game aesthetics is not visual, it is the action of play. He also presented a great typology of player behavior, which I fell in love with…so will blog some more about this at a later time. Definately a presentation that opened up the theme of the conference.
But where to start from here? Argh…this is the hardest summary I’ve ever written.
World of Warcraft was a reoccuring theme. Mattias Ljungström had an interesting presentation about architecture in WoW and how it influences player behavior. It was such a ‘OMG! Ofcourse!!” presentation. Other WoW stuff was Tanya Krzywinska’s presentation on myth in WoW and Henry Lowood’s machinima presentation was of course sexy and great. With Tristan Pope’s “Not Just Another Love Story” leading the way. There has aperantly been some controversy on this film as it contained ‘adult’ content, but the artist himself maintains that he’s only used the pixels that are already available in the game, which is true! Yet another thing I could write about for hours, but this is only a summary. His whole presentation got me thinking, however, about the contention that ‘sex only becomes an issue when gamers get bored’ (I’m sorry…I still haven’t figured out where I read this, will continue the search). So I’m thinking, if you want gamers to become creative in their own gameplay and use the game as a media, there should be an element of idleness designed into it.
Phew, I haven’t even covered half the event so far! I’m still not sure I understand everything completely, but this is what I got out of it. I’ll get back to writing some more tomorrow and see if I can’t be a little bit more summary oriented then.
But I need to dash for a Monday night party now – I know, it’s official! I’m such a student and I will never ever learn!!!

Objects of virtual desire

Unfortunately I missed the opening of Game Dump on Friday for various reasons. In relation to this I also managed to utter a sentence that I really wanted to share with you: “Urgh! My friends are such nerds, they’re no gamers!”. Yes…these words actually parted from my lips, what on earth has happened to me?
Anyways…I still haven’t had a chance to go and I’m sooooo looking forward to it!!!
On that note, I was blown away by Daniel Pargman, Simon Giddin and Jakob Senneby’s “Problematizing production- Economy and value creation in Second Life”, which was the last presentation at Aesthetics of Play (I will report on this later, but expert blogger Jill Walker has a summary going on, ALREADY!). They introduced this amazing project, Objects of Virtual Desire! They’re actually taking things that are designed in Second Life and making them. Also attaching the stories behind the objects and designers! Absolutely amazing!

I promise to come back with more info about this absolutely amazing conference!! But a hangover (SERIOUSLY! Will I ever learn?!), meeting with advisor tomorrow, a general feeling of “OMG! What was I part of this weekend? Do I understand what’s going on?” and an overhanging feeling of responsibility to report on this at Dagbladet’s spillblogg (yes…the gaming press here in Norway were seduced by some virtual sex bomb that invited them to play the new XBox this weekend and haven’t reported about ANYTHING!) are all contributing to a slight delay!

I will however mention a conversation I had with my lovely conference dinner neighbours, we discussed the title “Aesthetics of Play” – not aesthetics in computer games, but Aesthetics of Play, an excellent title and I think it sums up exactly what was going on! For some bizarre reason, I hadn’t thought about that before.