RIP Greg
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 April 2015, 1:00 pm
Greg Lastowka died last night. I really can't find the words, if you can, feel free to comment below. ren

Boxing Cleverer
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 April 2015, 3:22 pm
What makes a sport popular - then not? A chat broke out on Twitter. One of those chats that tells you that Twitter can be a terrible place to chat. So let's have a go here. Boxing used to be popular. Really popular. It caught the public imagination for centuries. In the 18C there was the Fancy - rich young things that adopted boxing and language of the working classes as trend. Boxing flourished. It became international. It took off in America, transatlantically and globally. When We Were Kings is not just a film about two men hitting each other,...

MMO = Multiple Massacres Online
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 February 2015, 9:57 pm
There may be much truth in the feeling that many Terra Nova people share, that MMORPGs and the gamer community are evolving into far less interesting forms. Today was the last day for one of the best other blogs about MMORPGs, Massively. The farewells: And a commentary from a competitor: Oh, yes, and SONY is bailing out, too:

Unpopular Culture
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 December 2014, 2:27 pm
As my Pandaran reached level 100 in World of Warcraft, knowing that 10 million other people were playing alongside me, and something over 100 million accounts had been created over the decade lifetime of that influential game, I couldn’t help but think of how much I personally like some of the most unpopular games. If our goal is to study “popular culture,” then of course popularity matters. But there are so many other scientific, scholarly, and personal goals we might legitimately have! Experimental studies typically use small Ns of research subjects. Ethnographies of cultures often study low-population societies. How many...

Welcome Nick and Bill
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 December 2014, 4:29 pm
All at TN would like to welcome Nick LaLone and Bill Bainbridge on board. Many of you will already know Nick and William''s work, but for those of you who do not: Nick is a currently PhD Student in the Information Science and Technology Program at Penn State University. His work centres on the intersection of play, design, literacy, and simulation. As he says "This is a fancy way of saying that I study communication between development teams during design, the impact of literacy and comprehension of virtual environments, and the loss of complexity as we virtualize simulated content." Bill...

Naming games (Part 2): I don’t think it’s me
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 October 2014, 6:50 pm
“Instead of saying I’m going to be best Pro Gamer I’d like to say that, especially in the eyes of the fans, I’ll work hard to be a pro gamer that always gives his all. A gamer that really enjoys and embodies the spirit of competition” Lee ‘Jaedong’ Jae Dong, StarCraft II Player “The difference between me and any other fighter is they’re talented, I’m God-gifted.” Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, Boxer StarCraft, Race and Culture Race has two distinct meanings in StarCraft. There are three in-game races that can be played: Zerg, Protoss and Terran; and there are two player races...

eSports: Naming games (Part 1)
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 September 2014, 3:31 pm
I said I’d been working on TN content. Well here is the first slice. For a long time I’ve been curious about the names people use in online spaces. This fascination grew as I began to watch eSports and saw how commentators / casters have to navigate a complex name space to make sense of the on-screen action. My fascination has turned into several thousand words exploring the way names are used in a number of eSports contexts. Here is the first part of the jottings, the second part is on StarCraft, Race and Culture. Part 1: What’s your name?...

Arise TerraNova
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 26 September 2014, 10:39 am
I for one did not want to see TerraNova fade away (after all they named a TV programe after us, right?), and I've got three blog posts on the exciting world of eSports in notpad that I'm trying to get finished. Ted has been kind enought to hand me the keys, so Arise TerraNova you live again. Ren

Making it official: RIP Terra Nova
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 September 2014, 12:23 pm
Terra Nova began on September 11, 2003 and maintained steady intellectual activity for a good 7 years afterwards. For about 4 years now the site has been kept alive out of a sense of good will. I think though for the good of the world it is time to let it pass. All this means is, I won't be auto-renewing the credit card payment. I assume the content will stay here. It's interesting to reflect on why TN existed and why it went away. For a time in the last decade, there was a sense that an immersive 3D communal...

Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 June 2014, 5:20 am
greglasSince our last post was in March and it's almost July, I'm going to promote Ted's new book on wildcat currencies here, since he hasn't done that yet. And while I'm at it, here's his other new book, written with Vili, on the design of virtual economies:

IRS clarifies rules on virtual currencies & Oculus Rift VR --> FB for $2B
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 March 2014, 10:10 pm
greglasMarch 25, 2014 was a pretty interesting day for virtual currency and virtual reality! It seems the IRS deems mined bitcoins (& Dogecoins!) to be income. So it seems pretty clear that Linden Dollars are a "convertible" virtual currency and should count as income too. I'm assuming professional goldfarmers should have to report loot drops too, since they're skilled at converting that virtual currency. But I'm still unclear about participants in primarily virtual, ludic economies -- e.g. MMORPG players who may occasionally sell or buy virtual property. Language from the IRS follows -- full text is here. -- ...Virtual currency...

The Tyranny of Emergence: Modernity's Romance of the Game
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 31 December 2013, 6:50 pm
Thomas MalabyIt's been some time since I haunted the distinguished halls of TN, but after some tumultuous times that got me out of the habit of putting my working papers up on ssrn and pointing to them here (and at my own blog), I do have a piece that I wanted to share (and I'll be cross-posting this to Doubt is an Art, as I do with all game-related stuff). I'm sure my skin has grown thin from all this time away from the rough-and-tumble world of collaborative blogging. Be gentle. ;) Last year I had the opportunity to give the...

The Tyranny of Emergence: Modernity's Romance of the Game
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 16 January 2014, 6:50 pm
Thomas MalabyIt's been some time since I haunted the distinguished halls of TN, but after some tumultuous times that got me out of the habit of putting my working papers up on ssrn and pointing to them here (and at my own blog), I do have a piece that I wanted to share (and I'll be cross-posting this to Doubt is an Art, as I do with all game-related stuff). I'm sure my skin has grown thin from all this time away from the rough-and-tumble world of collaborative blogging. Be gentle. ;) Last year I had the opportunity to give the...

Player-Authors Project Summary Report of Research Findings
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 1 December 2013, 11:17 am
greglasThanks to all Terra Nova readers who participated in the survey. The report is also available here.

Looking Back at Habitat
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 October 2013, 9:15 am
greglasGreat short podcast about the history of Habitat here. Thanks for the pointer, Randy!

Social Value
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 7 October 2013, 6:05 pm
Dmitri WilliamsDeep in our underground hollowed-out volcanic lair, ninja scientists have developed an algorithm that I think will have a large impact on both science and commerce. We call it "Social Value." Social Value is the amount of behavior that one person generates among their friends. An anology might be the ripple on the social pond. Let's say this person goes to see a movie, listens to a song, or plays a game. Now let's say that this person is influential. How much more likely are their friends to go see the movie, hear the song, or play the game? Each...

Ninjas attack
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 September 2013, 1:05 am
Dmitri WilliamsClearly demarcated as blatant self-promotion: I'm happy to announce that an effort I've been working on for about 3 years in semi-stealth mode is now live. After doing big data work for the spooks in the government and running a team of social and computer scientists, a few of us spun out a commercial venture I dubbed Ninja Metrics.* Much of this comes from constantly asking game companies for data, then getting smart people to do cool things with it. Our team has now published 80 papers on game data, which is kind of ridiculous. It was time to put...

Diablo III Auction House Closes
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 18 September 2013, 11:36 am
Edward CastronovaIt's not easy being a bank. Blizzard's experiment with a real-money trading system in its game Diablo III has come to an end. It is a good thing too. By embedding real money in its service, Blizzard was vitiating any claim that D3 was separate from the real economy and therefore not subject to real world taxes and laws. What a terrible precedent that would have made.

10 years!
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 5 September 2013, 7:20 pm
greglasWell, almost. Next Wednesday will mark the 10th anniversary of the Terra Nova weblog. Here's Ted's first post. Hard to believe...

The Politics and Economics of Closure
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 3 September 2013, 10:13 am
Edward CastronovaToontown is shutting its doors. (Thanks Pidge Fielder for the tip.) When gamer properties close down, the gamers rant and, understanding that no one will actually listen, move on. Toontown is a Disney property, however, filled with ordinary people. They've started numerous petitions at, a place dedicated to windmill tilting."Disney! We insist that you ignore your bottom line and do what we want instead! Or else, or else..." Or else what? You'll throw away your Mouse ears? You'll stop going to horrible movies like Planes? You'll refuse to go to theme parks that charge a million dollars for the...

Who owns e-sports?
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 August 2013, 4:49 pm
Edward CastronovaGot an interesting law article in the snail mail by Dan Burk. "Owning E-Sports: Proprietary Rights in Professional Computer Gaming." Unfortunately the digital version is behind paywalls. Man, does that seem stupid. Amazon charging $10 for a law article? It's an interesting article, but not $10 worth of interesting. Is any research article worth $10 sight unseen? Anyways. Burk's analysis highlights the fact that the law of real sports depends on the physical instantiation of those sports: Stadiums, bodies, playing fields, equipment. As a result, e-sports, where all these things are intangible, cannot rely completely on the pre-existing sports law....

Player-Authors Project - Survey One Data (Draft)
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 August 2013, 9:06 am
greglasHi everyone, I posted here soliciting participation in the Rutgers Player-Authors survey of player UGC practices in games. We are beginning to study the results. A draft summary report of basic descriptive statistics is posted here. Please do not cite or repost this draft version, as the numbers will likely change slightly. We will have a firmer version posted on the Player-Authors website soon. However, based on initial analysis, the following appear to be true: We had over 400 valid responses The survey participation skewed substantially male (over 80%) The median age of respondents was roughly 30 years old The...

Industry Survey on UGC in Games
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 24 June 2013, 3:49 pm
greglasHi everyone, As part of the Rutgers Player-Authors project, we're conducting a survey of industry perceptions regarding player-created content in games. If you're in the game development industry, please consider taking a few moments to share your views on player-created content. The survey is here: And please pass the link along! When results are collected, they will be posted on the website of the Rutgers Player-Authors Project.

Play, Evolution, and the Unspeakable
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 17 June 2013, 1:12 pm
Edward CastronovaSteen and Owens ground play in human evolution. Now sociologist Robert Bellah makes play not just any element of human evolution but a core element of it. From play, he believes, springs almost all culture, including the topic I steadfastly refuse to bring up on this blog because of the anger it generates among TN readers; therefore I will not raise it here. It is the topic that Tolkien also believed was intimately bound up with fantasy and subcreation. Recently in First Things, a scholarly magazine about the unspeakable topic I am not discussing, scholarly experts on that topic discuss...

Microsoft Points Go Away
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 June 2013, 11:03 am
Edward CastronovaMicrosoft announced that it is retiring its virtual currency, Microsoft Points. This follows Facebook abandoning Facebook credits. Companies are trying to figure when and where it makes sense to have your own currency. The thing about a rewards-type currency, such as Microsoft Points, is that it adds a click to the buying process. Put in your credit card, buy Points, buy games (or movies or whatever). MS is saying, why not have it be just: Put in your credit card, buy games. What after all is the point of having the virtual currency in there? Perhaps we are laready moving...

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