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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