Virtual Worlds stuff

Just a little list of observations and things on my ‘to read’ list. I don’t know why – but I’ve been so incredibly unfocused lately. I’ve actually been very social this weekend – which has been lovely but I feel I’m lagging behind on my feedburning!

1) Finland’s Game Research Lab has had what looks to be a really great conference/seminar (I’m sure someday I’ll actually care what the difference is) – Breaking the Magic Circle. What really struck me first was Vili Lehdonvirta’s contribution, Virtual Worlds Don’t Exist. I was instantly sucked in yesterday but three pages in I was rudely interrupted – and look at me now – blogging instead of reading! Vili’s one of those people who manages to see clearly and keep both his feet on the ground when it comes to virtual worlds studies – and I honestly can’t wait to finish his paper. Because the dude’s definitely on to something.

The abstract:

I argue that much of MMO-related scholarship is implicitly based on a dichotomous “real world vs. virtual world” model, which is heavily influenced by the “magic circle” concept in game studies. I show a number of shortcoming in this perspective and propose an alternative perspective based on Anselm Strauss’s social worlds (Strauss, 1978). The alternative perspective unbundles users from the technological platform and places MMO-centered social worlds in context with other worlds like religion and workplace.

I think Virtual World Studies are growing up – and that suits me fine!

2) There are now more than 100 youth oriented virtual worlds live or in development. Look – Virtual Worlds Management has a list!

3) The virtual world VizWoz is launching a virtual cinema on April 18th, according to Virtual World News. I had a 15 minute test-run of the place and I pretty much hated it. But I’m not a teen and 15 minutes is never enough for true judgment.

I’m really tickled by the virtual world cinema concept. It’s something I’ve wanted virtual worlds to get into for a while now. I’ve always thought that this would be the way for stupid licensing issues to disappear. But I wasn’t too happy about the fact that I needed to register if I lived in the States or not while getting an account – I, of course, lied – we’ll see if I can get away with it. I’m also eager to see the quality of the films they’re going to screen.

I applaud the initiative.

4) Speaking of April 18th – Funcom is together with GameSpot offering to play PvP Age of Conan from April 18th to April 20th for 15,000 gamers. I’ll be unwired in Gøteborg that weekend so I haven’t bothered to have a look at how I can be a part of it. Yet another sign that Age of Conan won’t be delayed again, I think! I wish them luck!

5) Have to read Raph Koster’s “Is there such a thing as a casual online world?”

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Norwegian folkdance in AoC

Well…I guess there’s just no doubt that Age of Conan is going to be released on schedule – May 20th – because Funcom is sneaking in more and more little peaks to the press. I feel like a day doesn’t pass by without there being something in the news about Age of Conan. Funcom is notorious for being super duper freakishly paranoid secretive, so they wouldn’t start releasing stuff unless they knew they were ready.

The funny thing is that I really thought I was bored with it all now. I was very adamant in my opinion that teasing the fans for sooooooo long would slap them in the face because they would just get bored and annoyed by all the delays. I was wrong.

Just look at this – they’re including Hallingdans. It’s a Norwegian folk dance. I’m so impressed. My overly national romantic heart has officially melted. Video bellow is in Norwegian from Aftenposten.no, where you can distinctly hear that the movement director (?) for Age of Conan, who came up with this great idea, is from my neck of the wood – of course he’s a Bergenser!

I’m excited now. I just might get over the testosterone overload feeling I have against Age of Conan and go out and buy it! I adore details like this!

I wouldn’t have noticed this if it wasn’t for Nina’s twittering, so thanks!

49% Casual Gamers play everyday

Chris Bateman’s got some interesting results from a survey they’ve done for a new player model, with 1040 responses.

Of those who classify themselves as casual gamers 49% play every day! Sounds like a statistic Jesper Juul would be interested in.

Also only 1.25% enjoy games without stories. I think that’s interesting.

We’ve received 1,040 responses to the survey, of which 55% (576) are from North America, 30% (317) are from Western Europe or the UK, 5% (52) are from Australasia, and a few responses from everywhere else in the world besides.

The majority of respondents play games every day (66%), with many of the others playing every week (26%). Interestingly, of those that self-identified as “Hardcore”, 81% play every day, and of those that self-identified as “Casual”, 49% play every day. It seems that even people who see themselves as a Casual player are still playing amazingly often.

The most popular approach is to play alone (40%), with just a few playing single player games with pad passing or some similar group play (7%). The remaining players all prefer some kind of multiplayer format, whether in the same room (17%) or over the internet (19%, of which 5% is team or clan play), with the remaining 16% preferring virtual worlds and MMORPGs.

On the subject of game stories, there is overwhelming consensus, with 93% saying either that stories are very important to their enjoyment of videogames (36%) or that stories help them enjoy videogames (57%). A mere 5% say stories are not important, and just 1.25% say they prefer videogames without stories. Clearly, story occupies a vital space in the modern world of videogames gamers love stories!