The Language thing and some heavy duty rambling on time management issues!

I woke up this morning with an intense desire to blog – so at this writing moment I’m thinking today is going to be a great day!

I think absolutely everyone in my social network has been hassled with hard questions like “How do you translate game mechanics to Norwegian?”. So many excellent suggestions, but I never seem to be satisfied. I’m not happy with the direct translation which would be spillmekanikk. I’ve been trying to write some articles for the mainstream media and at the moment half of the articles I’ve written have been published. I’m quite chuffed and proud about that. Firstly because the content isn’t always considered newsworthy and second – I’m no freakin journalist!
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Accessibility In Virtual Worlds

BBC reports that IBM has designed a device that gives 3D sound “to create a sense of space” for the blind to be able to enter virtual worlds.

“Characters in the virtual world can have a “sonar” attached to them so that the user gets audible cues to alert them to when they are approaching, from which direction and how near they are. “

That’s just so cool!

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.

Is the Second Life hype brought on by overly eager marketing types, killing Second Life?

Yesterday my feed reader was bombarded with Norwegian articles and blog posts about Second Life. Now, being a ‘job hunter’ who wants to continue working within the virtual world field, I get quite excited about such days! When I hardly have time to read all the Norwegian news about a virtual world – that means my future job prospects are looking up, right? Ssshhhh – don’t answer that – let me continue being deluded, sometimes ignorance is bliss and hopeful! ;)

The attention, it seems, comes from Wired’s “How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life” by Frank Rose about how most places in Second Life are deserted and businesses aren’t finding the consumer wealth they were looking for. I’m not certain what to make of it all. Two thoughts spring to mind: 1) Refreshing to see Second Life getting som critical press coverage from Wired 2) Do I really care enough about Second Life to go defend it on the different critical Norwegian blogs and websites? Not really.

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"The top tier of Second Life is run by the women"

Excellent Metaverse Territories introduced me to a great blogpost about Second Life from Broken Toys called “Utopia Hidden Underground: Another Look at SL“.

All in all it sums up nicely with:

“That core of the singularity is what is actually Second Life’s core
strength, and what keeps its users struggling through the level grind and the
broken client and the lack of governmental, er, Linden oversight. Because as a
social MMO, once you get past all the clutter and dross, SL actually works. I
can honestly say that nowhere else online have I argued about Islamic
fundamentalism at one in the morning while lounging in a pool with a half-naked
demon-thing. Much like how people played Ultima Online despite its rampant
peekay and endless bugs simply because it was the promise of something new,
people find the core of SL is actually the other players. That’s something
that’s difficult to break.”

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Social Networks in Virtual Worlds

Here’s a video of one of Aleks Krotoski‘s presentation entitled “Social Networks in Virtual Worlds” – it was a refreshing find. Aleks doesn’t focus too much on the ‘OMG!’ factor and is very straight to the point about her research. She’s also willing to share her methods of research which I found extremely interesting and helpful. This should be useful to some people out there! ;) The more I think about my own thesis the more I wish I had spent more time on methodology techniques, so methodology has started to interest me. I feel like my thesis discusses more what we’re talking about and why and chapter 2 should be something like “Ok, now we know ‘what’ now let’s concentrate on how to really research the ‘what’!”.

It’s a great find – but I’m writing this already late for an appointment so I haven’t done enough digging from where and why this presentation was held. All I know is that it’s from an event called “Massively Multi-Learner” at The University of Paisley.

CNN Future Summit on YouTube

It’s edited to the parts with glorious Nick Yee. I definitely recommend watching the whole thing although CNN’s video player annoyed me some. The program is ok – nothing really new – but a great resource (specially for someone like me who’s applying for work in a place filled with negative skepticism of virtual worlds)!
Trond Aas (Funcom) has an adorable response to Jimmy Wales‘ vision that Wikipedia will remain text based (part 6), where he shares his vision that instead of reading a speech given by Cicero in Rome you’ll be able to immerse yourself in the Roman era and listen to the speech given on the streets of Rome – by looking it up on wikipedia first. I think that’s just charming!

Virtual World Politics News

Where to start?
How about the “u gotta be kidding me!” news:
The US Congress has announced that it will be issuing a potential taxation of virtual goods report in August. I’m a bit perplexed about this. Firstly – how are they going to define what is virtual? And second of all, I don’t think we’re anywhere near ready to discuss this issue ‘officially’. I’m a bit worried that they’re going to ruin the creative gaming freedom that these virtual worlds offer by bringing up such invasive things as taxes. And when there’s just a handful of gamers this could apply to – is it really worth it? I’m all for that academics, gamers and designers discuss it, because it is important that we think about these things and have ready proposals and not in the least definitions before such matters do become official – but not the US Congress! Maybe I’m just skeptical because I’m European. I’m just not as thrilled as everyone else seems to be. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the ‘real’ value of virtual goods – I really do! And I abhore all the journalists writing headlines about virtual goods being fake – yet worth real money. I just think that the ‘realness’ of such things has to come about another way than through a governmental force like the US Congress. But I’m getting ahead of myself here, they do say ‘potential’.

A fresh look at learning and games

“The researchers in HP’s Bristol, England, office came up with a location-aware game that allows visitors to the Tower of London to help virtual prisoners escape.”

What fun!!! I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I find myself in tourist situations, there’s just so much that I want to absorb and learn, yet walking around just observing and listening to guides and reading becomes tiresome after a few hours! But what if I truely could experience these places and their history? The Mercury News Interactive reports:

“The game, developed by the Mediascapes research team at HP Labs and staff at the Tower of London, uses HP iPAQ handheld devices and location sensors including GPS. Digital files containing voices, images, music and clues are placed in specific locations using the HP Labs Mediascape authoring toolkit.
As players move into a location in the Tower and its grounds, the appropriate digital file is triggered on their iPAQ devices. This allows players to meet historical prisoners in the Tower, such as Guy Fawkes and Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s wives. Even the Tower’s Yeomen Warders, nicknamed Beefeaters, become part of the game as players try to help historical figures escape.”

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Historical Simulations and AI

So…Peter S. Jenkins is alive and well…it seems…and challenging my thoughts again. Now…I’ve only skimmed through this, and I honestly can’t decide if he’s gone mad or if he’s one of the genius future thinkers of our time!

I’m gonna have to have another go at it…but let me present you with: “Historical Simulations – Motivational, Ethical and Legal Issues”.

After skimming through it – I feel like I’m still not sure what he means with historical simulations and AIs! I mean…he starts off pretty boldly:

“The notion that the perceived world is an illusion or a simulation has arisen for centuries in the works of philosophers, mathematicians, and social scientists. A recent variant on this theme, posited by Nick Bostrom of the University of Oxford, is that it is possible that we are forms of artificial intelligence in an ancestor, (i.e. historical) simulation created by a future society.”

And then he gets me back to nodding – because he mentions McLuhan’s ‘rearview mirror effect’ and some of Castronova’s ideas of using ‘synthetic worlds’ but I suppose I’m just nodding from recognition – because my hair just rises up when he starts using words like apocalypse!

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