Entertainment, Games, Technology – wOOt?!

There’s been some interesting blogposts lately about the frustrations of what articles to put where, what to discuss where and what words describe what?

Aleks, at The Guardian Games Blog ponders on the acceptability to blog about social software in a games oriented blog. Second Life (which my puter stubbornly is denying me access to), MySpace, Flickr and del.icio.us all encompass play, as well – but is it right to discuss them in a games blog?

“For me, social software often fits the bill more so than goal-directed environments in which I have to shoot things (badly), solve puzzles (incorrectly) or collect items I don’t care about (slowly). Yet in these environments there is play. Even if the play is not formal, there are playful experiences. And so I think they deserve as much time on here as the latest chart toppers.”

I think I disagree. I think we’ve moved beyond this now – these places deserve their own spaces for discussion. But ofcourse, sometimes these social software sites produce games as well and sometimes people make some fascinating gaming observations of them, like “Digg-ing the game”! Which definitely deserves discussion in a games blog!

Meanwhile, over at Wonderland, Alice ponders about BBC’s editorial decision to report that the World of Warcraft expansion is delayed in the Technology section, alongside news about YouTube and Google. I think a lot of news about World of Warcraft is very interesting to technology readers and definitely deserves space there as a lot of what’s going on there has to do with technology, culture and society. But that the expansion is delayed is pure entertainment news, to be sure! I understand that it can be confusing at times, though. Seb Potter has a comment which I agree with:

“I’d like to see “Virtual” as a section, but I guess you’d start to need to just duplicate all the categories of real-life news eventually.”

I’m partial to ‘Virtual Life’ as a section. Some World of Warcraft news is pure gaming news, technology news and virtual life news – we shouldn’t have to think that just because World of Warcraft is a game, that all news from within has to be documented in a games section. And I certainly feel that there is room for another section of news with the title ‘Virtual Life’ – I’m sure most gamers who don’t play Second Life are extremely tired of all the Second Life news in their medium, and well…Second Life isn’t a game! BUT! If someone were to design a really cool game in Second Life – I’m sure they’d love to read about it! And as for the technology section, I’m sure the social impact new technology has had in MMORPGs is only interesting to a certain point, I think it’s time to move on! Unless you’re actually interested in ‘virtual life’! Sigh…am I making any sense?
It certainly is obvious that we’re at a crossroads here, which is so exciting! I can imagine myself as a granny someday saying “Oh…I remember back when we thought these worlds were just games for pure entertainment! Ha ha ha! We were so naive!”

Virtual World Travel Agency

This is great!!! A virtual guide service, Synthravels!! I love the idea! Clickable Culture reports about this new business that has started to offer guided tours for “those who wish to tour virtual worlds even without the necessary experience” – I love it! I haven’t tried it out yet, but I’ve registered with my preferred time and can’t wait to have a look at all the worlds I just don’t have the capasity and time to experience first hand!

“Synthtravels was conceived by Mario Gerosa and by Matteo Esposito.”

So here’s an interesting dilemma!

I’m a terrible sister!! My sister’s birthday is tomorrow and I STILL haven’t found her a gift! She lives in Australia and I’ve been surfing around for a couple of days trying to find something VERY modest for my student budget. There’s a few options out there that seem modest…but the cost is so much more!
So…my sister is an eager WoW’er…and I’m wondering….how unethical would it be for me to buy her a gift certificate for virtual goods?

Breakfast with Nick Yee

I spent this morning curled up on my sofa with breakfast and coffee and watched Nick Yee’s presentation at PARC – “The Blurring Boundaries of Play: Labor, Genocide, and Addiction”. Every now and then it’s good to have a ‘step back and see the whole picture’ presentation – I thoroughly enjoyed it! Ofcourse Mr. Yee’s fabulous work on why people play is represented, but he also covers the terrain of addiction, gold farming and ‘the new golf’!
Definitely a good start for anyone wanting to look into MMORPGs and what they’re all about. Any new students wondering what to write about? Watch, watch, watch!!! To me, it was a joyous breakfast, but now…I’m gonna be late for a lecture!

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!!


The Guardian has a great article on griefers and the evolving community counter measures to tackle them.

I think it’s interesting how the journalist brings up 2 examples of ‘griefing’ that have caused the debate about gaming ethics (although it’s a discussion that’s been going on forever – at least since the LambdaMoo days).
The first is the EVE Online incident where a group calling themselves the Guiding Hand Social Club, cunningly infiltrated the Ubiqua Seraph corporation and basically ruined them! They worked on this for over a year! I first heard about this after watching one of the State of Play III debates, where Dr. Kjartan Pierre Emilsson brought this up as an example of how sometimes developers just have to shrug and say “Hey! It’s all part of the gameplay!”. I remember being so amused and uttering a little ‘Yay!’. The debate harrowed in the community, however.
The second example, is ofcourse when World Of Warcraft mourners (mourning the death of a real life player in WoW) were completely ambushed by a rival guild. Which was ofcourse seen as disrespectful and awful.
But these two examples are not griefing incidents, in my opinion! And we can’t start punishing players for how they’re playing the game. I mean most of these outcries are like children screaming “BUT IT’S SOOOO UNFAIR!”. It reminds me a lot about my life at the moment. I’m moaning and groaning about my thesis and my friends and family are hitting back with “For crying out loud, Linn! Will you please just get over yourself and finish the goddamn thing! Stop taking yourself so bloody seriously!” – the analogy here is me being the screaming child and my friends being the ‘griefers’! My point is….thank God for ‘griefers’!!!! Sometimes it’s good to have players come along and take the piss of those taking the game way too seriously! Which, in my opinion, doesn’t make them griefers at all!!! So what are griefers? I would call advanced players living off of stealing and hassling new players, griefers – but why? They’re still playing the game, are they not? I’m rambling here, sorry about that – it’s just that I feel we really need to define what griefing is before we start making executive decisions about who’s playing the game the right way and who’s not. I don’t believe that anyone should be punished for these two ‘griefing’ examples, but others may disagree.
So who gets to decide what griefing is and what actions are offensive enough to merit punishment? Who should decide? Game masters or democraticly organised groups? Community or an authoritative power?

I’m gonna leave you with these questions which have so often been thrust at you in this blog – and promise to come back with some reflections on what works and why tomorrow! It’s about time, right?!!

Surveillance and invasion of privacy in MMOs

Select Parks has a questionnaire going about surveilance in MMOs. It’s an interesting dilemma. You quickly forget that your every action is being watched and recorded while playing. But I’m wondering if christo might have misunderstood something – if not, I certainly have. In the comments about ‘Game administrators monitoring players’ christo writes:

“The ability of MMO game administrators to monitor and record player
interactions out-strips any type of surveillance occurring within the
real-world. All movements, actions and conversations can be permanently
recorded and archived for later retrieval. Some MMOs use this data to help
suspend player accounts when end user license agreements are broken. For
example, if one player continually harasses another, administrators can sift
through conversation and proximity data to prove an offence has taken
place. Game companies also mine user data to help review and enhance the
game’s structure and playability”

Continue reading

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!


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!