William Gibson coming to Second Life!

Wow! It’s a whole event, not just a lecture!

“Over the next few weeks – to celebrate and, yes, promote his new novel
Spook Country – we’re planning a range of William Gibson activities in Second
Life; we’re screening his fine and strange movie No Maps for These Territories;
there’s a competition to design an avatar for the man himself; we’re giving away
shipping containers packe with Gibson goodies and at the beginning of August,
William Gibson himself will be coming into Second Life to read from Spook
Country and answer questions.'”

Sounds like a kids tv show only for grown-up nerds. I’ll be signing on – I have no intention of trying to design his avatar (what a daunting task) but I wouldn’t mind watching No Maps for These Territories in Second Life.

You know what I’d pay to see? A debate between William Gibson’s Cyberspace vs. Neal Stephenson’s Metaverse – with visuals! Gorr! That’d actually be a great movie, if done wisely and creatively! ‘

Seems like we need to sign on to get the schedule.

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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.

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’.

This whole copyright licensing of media thing


Like the rest of the world, I became enchanted by ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent when I saw Paul Potts‘ remarkable performance on YouTube – oh the tears! This of course led to hunger for more and I randomly went through some of the related YouTube videos. At one point I thought ‘hang on – I’m sure they’ve got a website with better quality clips and a much better organisational overview’. And they do -yay! But no – I get this picture up. “This content is not for viewing outside of the UK due to rights reasons”. Urgh! My thoughts go to the delightful Ben Hammersley‘s words:

The audience is actually quite happy to pay for these things. Witness the sales of DVD box-sets, or the success of the downloadable episodes of hit shows in the iTunes Music Store. Again, though, the television industry shoots itself in the foot. Would I pay for downloadable episodes of the Daily Show? Yes. Will anyone take my money from me? No. Why? Because I’m in the wrong country. Well, I tried. I’ll be thinking about how little their broken business model is my problem as I boot up my torrent software, download the show, and watch the whole thing, including the adverts and any in-show sponsorship.It’s a curious business indeed that turns away customers. It’s exceptionally puzzling when an industry ignores offers of cash. The reason for this seemingly counter-intuitive approach to business – where those with the supply actively avoid those with the demand – is that selling programming is not the business channels are in.

The Guardian, March 20, 2006

“Get with the programme”

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Singapore

Firstly – CNN launched it’s Future Summit: Virtual worlds today.

“Originating from Singapore and Palo Alto, California, the program features creative visionaries and entrepreneurs leading us into a new age of creativity and imagination.”

Impressive list of panelists really. I don’t even know who to list here – but it’s a good mix of social networking sites experts and designers and MMORPG experts and designers. I’m really going to enjoy following this!

So speaking of Singapore – I just got my ticket for 16 August. My apartment’s getting renovated 20 August by my landlords and my adorable father thought it would be a good idea for me to visit him instead of crashing on a friend’s floor. Not a hell of a lot of protest from me! It will be good to get away and have a vacation – there’s so much I didn’t get to do last time around. Besides, I miss him – chillin’ out with dad is always delightful.

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BBC on goldfarming

I’m a big fan of the BBC! Here’s a nice little segment on how and why virtual currency in WoW has become so popular. I really like it because it gets to the heart of the matter and doesn’t dwell on the dramatic realization that people are using real money to buy virtual things. It’s really to the point – and I’m so glad that they included a Blizzard representative that could voice their concerns with RMT. Thanks sis for sending it to me!

What is machinima?

If you pay attention to my del.icio.us, you’ll know that I’m hung up on machinima lately. I don’t really want to get into the details of why right now – but thought I’d share this little gem by mrfleef.
It’s an attempt to explain what machinima is, specifically using Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as a backdrop. Every once in a while a figure comes up screaming political comments about how games are bad for, I’m not sure, is that supposed to be Hillary Clinton?

MMORPG professionals

Raph Koster writes about a new group that calls themselves “The Virtual Citizenship Association”. It’s a new group advocating virtual citizen ehm ‘rights’. In his blogpost he points out the relevant problems with their social contract – which I completely agree with – so I’m not going to bother repeating it all in my own words here – you should just read it – I can’t do his words justice here!
But entering the site – I was quite intrigued by how they define themselves:

“We’re a group of MMORPG professionals, people who enjoy playing in online universes in general and people who advocate the use of Free Software.”

I find that interesting. When I think of ‘MMORPG proffesionals’ I think of game operators and designers – not players, but it’s a relevant point! Why shouldn’t players be labeled as MMORPG professionals? I kinda like it – it tickled me!
As for what they’re advocating, I agree with Koster when he writes:

“I’d prefer any such social contract to focus more on how operators have to treat players, than on forcing particular business models on operators.”

Too right!

And in case you don’t have the time to read the comments, I have to paste glorious Mr. Bartle’s comment – where would this industry be without his precious sense of humor?

“Why is it that these “players’ rights” advocates always target the virtual world developers and never the people who run guilds?

Richard

PS: Wouldn’t it be amusing if a virtual world developer banned membership of such organisations under its EULA?”

State of Play – New York Law School

So they’ve had a State of Play conference in New York and Mark Wallace does a wonderful job of summing up the whole thing – bless him! Looks like they’ve really been critical of themselves and looking to see what could be done in future research – which I think is good!

One thing that surprised me however was Jesper Juul’s post on the discussion of ‘games have rules’. I’ve accepted that ages ago, and I really don’t understand what the problem is in acknowledging that games have rules and most importantly NEED rules – but apparently, they still can’t agree on that. Juul breaks the discussion down to two positions – pro-rules vs. anti-rules.

“Pro-rules people generally make pragmatic descriptions of the gameplaying activity, and anti-rules people commonly apply a general poststructuralist skapticism towards descriptions of structure.”

I’m baffled that this is still disagreed upon. In my thesis (which I’d love to write all over again) I broke everything down to two issues – gameplay and societal -> rules and identity. Just because some players choose to defy some of these rules doesn’t mean that they’re not complying with them. Rather acknowledging them to then defy them. The gameplay rules are what makes the world a game – and we mustn’t forget that worlds like, Second Life are NOT games – so we should stop using them as examples. The societal rules are something that is considered by your gameplay method and social communication. Um – maybe I’m not ready to talk about this yet.

Socialising through interests

I remember back in 1999 I tried becoming a member of The Well. I had to list a few things that interested me and wanted to ‘discuss’ – being a young student who had just been introduced to new ways of thinking, I registered that I was interested in conspiracy theories. I wanted to register something that I could get into heavy discussions about because that’s what The Well is all about – discussions – and I thought that I had plenty to say about the subject. Boy was I wrong! I got a few messages inviting me to join discussions and they were all filled with dreadful warning language like “You better be interested and not one of those fools who just sit and discuss conspiracy theories for fun!”. I never did join any of those discussion groups, they were all just a tad too serious for me and I ended up not renewing my The Well subscription because I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to talk about. Everyone was so extremely serious about their subjects of interest and I was just there trying desperately to become a member of an online community and I felt like a fool because there was not one particular subject I felt qualified enough to be a part of.

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