Do you or have you played MUDs?

Maren and I are giving a presentation on computer games for librarians next week “Bibliotekdagene i Bergen”.

LambdaMOO mapWe’re both super honored to be asked – as we both consider librarians to be the coolest professionals around. We worked on our outline last weekend and I’m very excited. I think we’ve come up with a presentation recipe that’s going to be a big success. I’m worried that we’re cramming too much in, but I have faith that our structure will allow for it. So we’ll be talking a little about the history of computer games from hacker culture to consumer culture. We both felt it was important for us to focus a bit on computer game genre and all that it entails. And the icing will be a bit of fan culture. I’ll translate and share here later.

But for now I’m in need of some help. I want to at least briefly touch on the subject of MUDs to MMORPGs – text based worlds to graphical worlds. And I want some good text avatars. I thought I had several but after tearing my bookshelf apart (yes – I have no order) I can only find one, which is that of Mr. Bungle in LambdaMOO: ” a fat, oleaginous, Bisquick-faced clown dressed in cum – stained harlequin garb and girdled with a mistletoe-and-hemlock belt whose buckle bore the quaint inscription “KISS ME UNDER THIS, BITCH”. And I’m thinking …. nawww … there must be something a little nicer. I want colorful definitely, but not this grim and dirty. So I’m asking – do you know of any text avatars I can use? Do you have a favorite? I would also love some good room descriptions and any fond memories you have!

And while we’re on the subject. Do you know of any MUDs/MOOs still alive? I ask because I have a sneaky feeling that text based games are on their way back. Just looking at Causal Gameplay Design Competition.

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Machinima Night III program part 2

MTV GENERATION

I cannot touch on the topic of Machinima without mentioning the music videos. It’s a storytelling format which the MTV-generation understands so well and they’re able to use their literacy of music videos to create their own. It’s a wonderful way to be a fan of both the games and the music. I have a soft spot for the music Machinima that doesn’t have a glossy feel – but rather amateur love.
I showed two very old music Machinima films. The first one is from a very well known machinima artist, who I’m sure wishes that I showed some of his newer stuff. B. Kiddo has been creating machinima for years and his artful skills in The Sims and Second Life are just awesome. But this Machinima film is one of the first I ever saw. I was so touhed by it. Although it isn’t smoothly made – it’s very emotional. I showed this to a girl friend of mine who thinks I’m totally weird for being interested in this stuff and would rather I focus my attention on finding a man and go shopping – and she welled up. Which of course gave me immense satisfaction!

B. Kiddo – Bitter Sweet

Watch here.

The other music Machinima I played is actually Chinese and made Everquest. I stumbled upon it by chance. It is very simple – but the song is just so catchy I can’t help but love it! I’m told the song was a number one hit in China about 10 years ago (thanks KML) and I can understand why. I find myself humming the song several times a day and I enjoy simplisity of the Machinima film.
Peter Tan – Look Over Here!

Machinima Night III

I’ve promised to do a write-up of MachinimaNight III to all who attended – share the links to the films and artists. I’m going to do this back to front and start off at the last part. Mostly this is for Scott and Jill who had to leave early. I appreciate your interest and support! Thanks!

So in the course of the night I had introduced the audience to different genres and types of machinima, mostly concentrating on form and not about the creative communities within machinima making communities.
This is the ingredient of machinima that fascinates me the most and there’s one group that I’ve been paying attention to and just downright adore. So first – let me introduce you to Olibith.

A seven minute tour of virtual worlds

Personalize Media has a video out with a summary of the virtual worlds out there. Far from all are included! Most of these are non-game social worlds and there’s loads that I haven’t even heard of! I was suprised to see A Tale in the Desert there, though. For one, I thought they definitely qualified as a game and second because I thought their numbers were so low that they wouldn’t survive. A Tale in the Desert is a great idea – and I’m so incredibly happy that they’re still alive! That really is good news.

Stolen from Raph Koster’s blog.

The art of McGee

American McGee’s in Shanghai developing Grimm with his company, Spicy Horse Games. And lucky for the world I live in, McGee’s a blogger! He was quiet there for a while – but he’s now frequently sharing his brilliant creations with us, his fans. One clue as to why I like McGee’s work is to be found on his ‘about’ page:
His stated mission is

“to create a unified production method for story telling across the interactive and film industries” and of himself, he says, “I want to be the next Walt Disney, only a little more wicked.”

It’s just so gutsy, ballsy and well…I’d say a realistic goal with such a creative mind as his. I like to think of him as one of the best storytellers in game art, so I think he’s well on his way to achieving this status. I’m a big fan, although, I actually haven’t played Bad Day LA yet. Like, Alice – I didn’t think it was quality McGee stuff – but it seems it might just be. OooOOoo – looking forward to having my account filled up again after a really expensive Christmas!

Second Life Coca Cola vending machine

“Not Coca Cola but the essence of Coca Cola” – well that’s branding for you. But it’s really well thought out and has to be one of the best commercial ventures into virtual worlds I’ve seen so far. They’ve really embraced the collaboration era and that has to be admired. Clearly understanding that avatars are “thirsty for experience” – I’m impressed. I’ll be eagerly monitoring their success. Although I was rather hopeful that there would be more “set your brand free to be played with” as discussed in the Building Businesses in Virtual Worlds panel at State of Play V. This seems to be more restricted ehm…gameplay? interaction? from what I can see. But I haven’t taken the time to experiment with them myself yet – so I really shouldn’t be too critical.

State of Play Conference

It was fun!
The conference started off with a bang. We got to see Glenn Thomas’ “Ideal World. A Virtual Life Documentary” – which is brilliant (Glenn’s also a super dooper, charming and smart man, by the way!). He’s really managed to get the full compass of The Second Life story into it and I applaud him for it!
The panels were exciting and from vast disciplines – which I thought was great! Some of the conference delegates (220 attending) had some amazing questions to the panels, which brought some great insight and discussion. I’m not too comfortable writing in detail here, as I’m in the middle of writing other articles for a serious publication. I’m not used to all this journalism thinking and I’m not sure what’s allowed and not in duplication matters on my own personal blog. So let me tread lightly till stuff gets published.
I’ve met some truly amazing people which I hope to keep in touch with. Lots of bright and colorful minds were present and I felt so privileged to meet them. All shall be mentioned when I dwell deeper into stuff here.
I found being a ‘journalist’ quite hard, however. Finding stuff that was news worthy for ‘regular people’ was challenging, which is why we’re holding off publication till it’s all in a lovely understandable package. It’s also quite hard finding the correct Norwegian words for stuff – any Norwegian readers out there willing to have a go at ‘in-world’? It’s such a great way to pinpoint what you’re trying to describe, “they met in-world”, “in-world business transaction”, I just can’t seem to find the right Norwegian wording for it. I have also found a great appreciation for the word ‘business’ in English. I think we have about alternatives in Norwegian and I find none of the satisfactory! Speaking of which, I need to get back to work.

Bogost & Colbert

Ian Bogost was a guest on The Colbert Report promoting his new book, “Persuasive Games. The Expressive Power of Video Games” – oh the courage!! I have to say, I was partially disappointed and partially impressed. Disappointed by Stephen Colbert, because I didn’t find his jokes that amusing and impressed by Bogost because he articulates his thoughts so well – it must be pure joy to be in his class. I was expecting to have a good chuckle but instead I’m in a pondering mode. Ian Bogost says that video games are an expressive medium because “video games model the way things work”. To me, there’s not question – he brings up an interesting example from San Andreas where the only thing you can eat to get energy levels up is fast food a.s.o. He sums up really nicely by accepting Colbert’s pun on World of Warcraft preparing him for orc invasion “You will be ready to think of the way things work”, the system, the complexity. I think that’s very nicely put. Video games do make you think about the way all things are interconnected and related to each other! Whew – sounds very philosophical! Persuasive Games are designed to comment on society and politics – and they manage to do this through gameplay – not interactive storytelling – but gameplay – they’re really quite genius!
Will you look at that? I can embed a Comedy Central clip – lovely!

 

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Ian Bogost
www.colbertnation.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:91012
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Now I need to run! I’ve got so much fun stuff to do and my head is just spinning with excitement and delight – need to take a breath and focus on one thing at a time!