Synthetic World News


Castronova’s posse at the Indiana University have started a blog called Synthetic World News! I don’t know why this has passed by me! Anyways…these are the folks behind Ludium (I’m still dumbfounded by their innovative creativity on research) so most likely interesting things will be revealed here!
First up is the Kuurian Expedition and they’re having a meeting at the Hall of Explorers, Ironforge, Silver Hand at 10 pm EST August 2, 2006. From what I gather it is a bunch of experienced researchers/players showing new people what synthetic worlds are all about and how we can learn and build from them. But I’m sure this sounds interesting to all you other WoW freaks as well!
I’m staying away from it all and trying to wrap things up! Although I’m suffering from some annoying syndrom that makes me fall asleep each time I open my thesis!! I will prevail though!! I shall conquer this beast of mumbo jumbo sadistic slime!!

Spore…sigh!

This game is just starting to sound more and more fabulous!! I’ve just listened to a podcast from the GDC 06 of Caryl Shaw’s (Producer, Maxis) talk about “Building Community Around Pollinated Content in Spore” and I’m in complete awe! I almost feel guilty for criticising The Sims Online, but I’m sure anyone would agree with me there. And I almost think they’re kind for keeping the game going as I’m sure there are only a couple of thousand players (huh…need to check up on that) since those that still are there are still passionate about it.

Keywords for the talk: technology, content, community; generative content; small file sizes; “bragging rights”, flickr inspired tagging; stories behind the objects; massively solo player game

I’m truely pumped!!

Also check out Will Wright’s talk with BBC Technology about “User-generated future of gaming”. At one point they actually talk about letting avatars roam through different gaming spaces – interesting!!

Controversy and drama

Super Columbine Massacre RPG

It’s caused a lot of controversy lately, which I suppose is only natural. It’s a game about the Columbine school shootings of 1999, and you know…it’s not pleasant. This ofcourse has raised havock! Ian Bogost at WaterCoolerGames, who is quite passionate about games with an agenda – wrote an interesting piece a few weeks ago, which has caused people like Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council to call for Bogost’s resignation from Georgia Tech.I suppose that’s what upset me the most really. Personally, I haven’t played the game because it just seemed too uncomfortable, for me – I’m such a wimp, I know.

Mr. Bogost has written yet another brilliant post on the media coverage, which really needs to be read in full – I’ll cut’n’paste the summary here though:

“Most of all, I am deeply worried by this culture of ineffability, a culture that would rather not talk about anything at all for fear that it might make someone uncomfortable. This trend descends from Theodor Adorno’s argument that the holocaust becomes “transformed, with something of the horror removed” when represented in art, thus his famous statement that to write poetry after Auschwitz would be barbaric. These events are considered “ineffable” — unspeakable, unrepresentable. It is a tired sentiment that we must move beyond. Of course topics like 9/11 should make us uncomfortable. Of course Columbine should make us uncomfortable. But that is no excuse to put these issues away in a drawer, waiting for some miraculous solution to spring forth and resolve them for us. If we do so, history is much more likely to forget them. I don’t care if we make videogames, films, novels, poems, sidewalk art, cupcakes, or pelts as a way to interrogate our world. But we must not fear that world.”

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2 New Games Worth Keeping An Eye On

BUD – “A lightweight passively multiplayer online game where your data is your playfield”

I’m not certain I understand the gaming element in this or even the fun factor but it certianly is interesting.


“bud.com is an experiment to turn our personal data trails into a playfield for a web-based massively-multiplayer online game. Call it passively multiplayer – the reality of communication networks. Already, Web 2.0 and social networking sites keep track of our relationships and communications. bud.com proposes to make that web more engaging through surveillance with non-threatening stakes: browser-based multiplayer play.

Honestly, I still like to be in control of what information I share with my networks – this sounds kinda scary and I’m sure my surfing would become more tactical than the freedom of my own curiosity. But it certainly is an interesting concept – and I’ll be eagerly following his progress!

And:

PlayByWiki – the pen is the sword

Yes! It’s a Role Playing Game using Wiki! Looks really interesting! And to be honest I’m thinking this is more of a collaborative story telling than a game! Oh how those definitions are blurring my mind! It looks great! What a truely interesting concept!

The Love Thing in Games

Guardian Games Blog led me in the direction of an interesting piece at Apogeevr, about ‘real’ emotions in virtual worlds.
It reminded me a lot about the dramatical yoooha in The Sims Online. There was always someone who had been hurt by another because of cheating or being unfaithful! Private Investigator’s in virtual worlds are thriving from their business! Lots of them are employed by real life husbands and wives who want to know what the hell their spouse is doing in-game, but a lot of business is being generated from virtual relationship drama as well! If a virtual spouse ‘suddenly’ disappears, the PI will try and see if they’ve started a new account as a different avatar a.s.o.
So keywords here is real emotions, real relationships in virtual worlds. But I’ve never truely understood this! I don’t understand how anyone can form a relationship without trust! And I suppose that’s what I came across most often with lovesick avatars; their constant paranoia which led to constant and tedious drama! But it is impossible not to get emotionally attached to the world – so I guess I understand it to some extent.

Player vs. user

Before I design some lethal weapon to kill the bird that’s franticly chirping outside my window telling me that I’m still nowhere and it’s morning – I thought I might vent out a bit in here!

Last year I had an incredibly difficult time discussing narrative with my fellow students in Games and Game Culture! They just refused to discuss with me the meaning behind the aesthetics of the worlds we were playing in. I remember someone, slightly frustrated with me, explaining to me that narrative is something that has happened. You can’t be playing narrative because narrative is story telling and you’re not telling a story. When I then (stubborn as I sometimes can be) emphasised that the whole geography we were in (Prince of Persia at the time) was basically telling us something, they usually sighed and gave me a whole song and dance that it was all code. When I then further persisted in stating that “well the game designer must have had some intention by designing this temple that I just can’t seem to get out of!” – respons: “No, Linn!!! It’s all just obstacle to reach your goal!”.

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Come Out & Play

Oh, this link is going straight to Bergen Kommune!!

New York City (ofcourse) is having its first annual Come Out & Play Festival September 22-24! Oh what fun!!!!

Ofcourse we already have ‘Game Days’ during the summer! But they can be soooo much more than the great stuff they’ve already got going! Infact!! They should just hire me!!! He he!!

There’s just so much play can bring to a city! And I’ve just deleted a whole lotta hippi’ish peace, love and happiness words – but you get my drift, right?! Lots of drunken violence going on? Bring the people out to play!! Things that will bring strangers together – make them laugh together! And OMG I can’t go on about this without falling into a trance of pl&h talk!!!

And why not make stupidly placed ugly buildings the center of dazzlement for one night of Tetris or anything else truely spectacular!!!! Oh you know that this just has to be done!!!

Peer Gynt


This year, we’re commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Henrik Ibsen (is it just me or isn’t it a bit odd celebrating a great man’s death instead of his birth, although I’m sure we do that as well?).

Lots of innovative stuff is blossoming out of the woodwork from all over the world! I’ve truely been amazed several times.

i1277 sent me (oh how I adore being a part of this ‘secret’ Infomedia blogging network) this BBC produced Peer Gynt game! I think it’s great! Short and pointless, to be sure, but a lovely homage to the music of Peer Gynt!

Photo: From the visual profile for the Ibsen Year 2006