Happy Birthday UO
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 September 2012, 5:09 am
Ren ReynoldsUltima Online was launched 15 years ago! Happy Birthday. How old is that exactly in MMO years? Anyhoo, what are you all still doing here, go to Raph Koster's site and read some of the untold history: http://www.raphkoster.com/2012/09/25/ultima-online-is-fifteen/ In other news - Pandas. Coincidence???


Tolkien, Natural Law and Video Games
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 21 September 2012, 9:51 am
Edward CastronovaI wrote this paper as a talk for a symposium on Ethics and Games at DePauw University, organized by Harry Brown. I submitted to an academic journal (Ethics and Information Technology), but they rejected it. The reviewers said that an academic journal is not the place for a paper that cites Wikipedia and the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rulebook. Well, you know, they're right. So I've just posted it on SSRN. And it's got 2 downloads! Yay! As far as substance goes, here's the abstract, after the fold. I review the moral systems that designers create inside their video games....


A reasonable remedy
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 September 2012, 2:14 pm
Ren ReynoldsOne of the issues that has come up in the discussions around the UK Government's consultation on consumer rights in digital stuff is the notion of a reasonable remedy. In the case of online games - what's reasonable? For the background on this see my TN Post: UK Consumers have rights over you And the very detailed tVPN post: UK Content Rights In the case of quality issues with digital stuff the consultation document talks about 4 R's: repair, replace, return or reduce price. But would a player of an MMO or other online game want any of these R's...


About a spaceship
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 September 2012, 4:01 pm
Ren ReynoldsHe was killed. As many will be aware Sean Smith, aka EvE Online player and key GoonSwarm member Vile Rat, was killed in the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Lybia. Many of the news reports about Vile celebrate his achievements both off-line and on-line; and so far I've not seen a single report that sneered at or trivialised the work to strengthen the EvE Online community - fitting. The comments from the EvE Community itself - very fitting.


Game Accessibility Guidelines
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 September 2012, 1:09 pm
Ren ReynoldsI'll just leave this here: www.gameaccessibilityguidelines.com


Country: CN
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 11 September 2012, 4:35 am
Ren ReynoldsA login attempt from the following location is currently awaiting your authorization. Address: 112.85.45.199 City: Xinpu Region: 04 Country: CN Hmm, I don't remember going to China earlier today for the express purpose of playing Guild Wars 2 - I think something odd is going on. Of course - it's hacking attempts. What I'm wondering though is whether Guild Wars 2 is being targeting in particular, maybe because its new so there will be more account vulnrablity, or is it just that NCSofts' email alert system tells us more about what's going on than other systems that simply don't report...


Using Games to Change Behavior
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 10 September 2012, 1:24 pm
Edward CastronovaJim Cummings at Motivate.Play interviews Michael Kim, CEO of Kairos Labs. There's a science to this business, and Kim is on to it.


Game Cooperation Reduces Aggression
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 4 September 2012, 8:25 am
Edward CastronovaGamasutra reviews recent research showing that even the most violent video games, when played cooperatively, reduce measured aggression.


Cool Job Opening at Bioware
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 August 2012, 9:29 am
Edward CastronovaThe state of the virtual economy is such that we now see the following kinds of job openings. Oh to be 20-something again! Check out this one: Monetization Analyst The BioWare Label is a division of EA which crafts high quality multiplatform role-playing, MMO, social, play-for-free, and strategy games, focused on emotionally engaging, rich stories with unforgettable characters and vast worlds to discover. Since 1995, BioWare has created some of the world's most critically acclaimed titles and franchises, including Baldur's Gate™, Neverwinter Nights™, Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™, Jade Empire™, Mass Effect™, and Dragon Age™. BioWare currently operates...


Game Politics
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 29 August 2012, 5:34 pm
Ren ReynoldsDoes depriving gamers in Iran from World of Warcraft and the up coming Panda Expansion help anyone? Hoping people are going to rage-quit their regime? Here's the post from a blue at Blizz [http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/5168067998?page=97#1933]: And the text: Our team has been watching this thread closely, and we understand the desire for more information about this situation. Blizzard Entertainment cannot speak to any reports surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens.What we can tell you is that United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran. Several of...


"Not OK: 'GET THE FUCKING CAVERN SCUTTER ENERGIES YOU FUCKASSES.'"
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 28 August 2012, 4:13 pm
Timothy BurkeFollowing up on my recent cri d'coeur about the misanthropy of multiplayer gamer culture, I have to say I'm heartened by the diligence of the Guild Wars 2 developers in trying to create a more friendly, less offensive chat culture from the first day onward. There's a thread at Reddit where the developers have offered to tell anyone who has been suspended why they were suspended or banned. Basically it breaks down into two major causes: first, that the account has been hacked by gold sellers and second, because the player was saying racist, homophobic, or grossly offensive things in...


Run and catch the game
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 27 August 2012, 9:36 am
Ren ReynoldsIf you run you can catch the start of (friend-of-the-show and guidie) Kevin Werbach's course on gamification. 63,000 have signed up so far, but it's ok the class room is big. Internetnet big. Course stats today so run and hop on the bus: https://www.coursera.org/course/gamification Hashtag: #gamification12 if you want to follow the discusion on the twitter. Oh, it's free.


Making real money with virtual roses
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 23 August 2012, 11:07 am
Edward CastronovaWhat's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. - Shakespeare Voice of America reports on a new Chinese social network, YY. The name is similar to that of a rival, QQ, aka Tencent. You may recall that QQ Coins caused an intervention by the Central Bank of China; they were being used too much as normal currency. The currency of YY is a rose. But guess what, you can make real money with virtual roses. VoA tells us that musicians will set up a video site in YY (video is...


Bitcoin Sued
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 August 2012, 10:56 am
Edward CastronovaSomeone hacked a Bitcoin vendor. The vendor had some trouble making payments to account holders. Now some of those account holders have sued the vendor to the tune of about a half-million $US. There's a tension between the freedom of a virtual currency and its security. I wonder - how secure are holdings of priority points and rewards and the like? How secure is Facebook-based money? How secure are credit card systems like Square? Dollars and Euros and Yen are protected by law enforcement. Other things aren't. Will that in the long run make the difference between currencies that survive?


“Let’s kill all the lawyers”
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 August 2012, 6:25 pm
Ren ReynoldsJokes. They can go wrong. Very wrong. But…. Sometimes it’s ok. On 6 January 2010 a tweeter called Paul Chambers was really looking forward to meeting up with a woman he’d started a relationship with online. He really really wanted to meet her. The problem was he was in the UK and she was in Ireland and it was January. Now if you know the UK you know we don’t ‘do’ snow. It’s weird white stuff we only see on xmas cards. Most of all roads and airports just don’t /do/ snow. So on hearing that his local airport was...


Hell Is Other Games (And Some Games)
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 August 2012, 4:10 pm
Timothy Burke(x-posted to Easily Distracted) Game developers talking about "culture" are often deeply frustrating. Either they are overly credulous about how design directly and symmetrically can create a particular set of cultural practices and outlook within a game, as my friend Thomas Malaby has observed about Second Life, or they see gamer culture as a hard-wired or predetermined result of cognitive structures and/or the wider culture of the "real world". Only rarely both in a somewhat more nuanced but contradictory way: Raph Koster, for example, has at times argued that particular design features in games (say, the implementation of dancing and...


Ethics of ARGs
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 July 2012, 4:05 pm
Ren ReynoldsIn the latest Social Change Technology podcast Burcu Bakioglu talks to Andrea Phillips about Alternate Reality games, their design and some of the interesting legal and ethical issues that come up. Those in the TN community that have been watching / making / playing ARGs for the last few years will be familiar with some of the issues - such as what if someone gets hurt, how far can a 'fiction' go before it is deception? While some of the issues raised in the podcast are specific to games that have a very physical element and a fictional layer that...


The decline of Zynga and Facebook?
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 30 July 2012, 11:12 am
Edward CastronovaInteresting things happening on the interactive social media front. IPO darlings Facebook and Zynga have seen their stock prices falling quite a bit lately. There's more analysis than information, but one thread stuck out at me: The idea that the attention garnered by Zynga and Facebook is not sustainable. For example, Leigh Alexander at Gamasutra carefully unpacks the dyanamics of attention when the portfolio consists of shiny empty games. It works for awhile, but eventually the users become bored at what is after all a very shallow experience. Over at CNN Money, Ben Rooney reports one analyst's conjecture that Facebook...


When FPS becomes virtual world
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 25 July 2012, 11:38 am
Edward CastronovaOur friend Marcus Carter (PhD Student at the University of Melbourne) sends in this report about DayZ. Back in the day, we pushed CounterStrike and friends out of the virtual world category because the multi-user environments were not persistent. Now of course all the lines blur; console-based achievement systems create a persistent community at the hub of every FPS. DayZ takes it a step further, adding a massive spatial environment. When an FPS gets a huge persistent map, we are back to Trammel. Here is Marcus' report. Have you heard about DayZ yet? If you’re willing to do battle with...


UK Consumers have rights over you
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 19 July 2012, 6:03 pm
Ren ReynoldsThe UK is considering a set of laws that give consumers rights over the providers of digital stuff. These new consumer rights will blow a hole through EULAs and side step a whole mess of intellectual property law. All UK consumers of ‘digital content’ would have these rights irrespective of where it’s provided from, the rights cannot be contracted out of, and the remedies apply to content providers where ever they are. In short, if you are a game company based anywhere selling to the UK - you need to pay attention. This is a consultation so none of it...


The right of publicity in video games
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 12 July 2012, 10:07 am
greglasI've got a short essay up over at Gamasutra about the right of publicity in video games. The fundamental question is this -- if you create a game (or virtual world) and you want to include in that setting an indentifiable individual, do you need to pay a licensing fee to that person or the heir of that person? If games are like books, and not a second class medium, the answer should be "no." If I write a book, and a character in the book has a chance encounter with William Shatner or Harrison Ford, the artistic use of...


The Secret World
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 9 July 2012, 3:45 pm
Edward CastronovaAn interesting new MMOG is the Secret World. Much is being made of its class-free system, but for me the real innovation is in the spatial relationship of meaning to the geography. Thank heavens (or is it a plan by the Council of Rome) that we have finally gotten away from quest hubs. Instead, as you run through the zombie apocalypse, you see a smashed delivery truck and a package that is interactable. This leads you on a little mystery that is of independent narrative interest, and gains heft in the circumstances of the game. A package being delivered to...


Book Review: "As If" by Michael Saler
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 July 2012, 10:57 am
Edward CastronovaI don't normally go in for cultural studies. But every once in awhile, there's a piece that comes up with concepts that tightly and elegantly express thoughts that many are feeling but cannot put to words. Saler's As If is such a book. He addresses himself to "the literary prehistory of virtual reality," drawing connections between the works of Conan Doyle, Lovecraft, and Tolkien and our current exodus into computer-generated fantasy spaces. We have all known that there is a kinship between the 1930s dame obsessed with Holmes and the 2010 gamer obsessed with Onyxia, but it has never been...


Facebook Credits Are Dead, Long Live Virtual Currencies
Posted by Terra Nova [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 20 June 2012, 11:23 am
Edward CastronovaYesterday, Facebook killed its virtual currency. (Thanks Travis Ross for the heads up.) However, the payment systems behind the FB Credit remain in place, including the outrageous 30% redemption tax, which provided FB with 18 percent of its revenue last year. The difference seems to be one of branding. An FB app can have its own virtual currency and give users a link where they can pay cash to FB (in local currencies - Yen, Euros, whatever Greece decides on, etc.) in return for the virtual coin. The coin then flows through the app back to the devs. The devs...


Unggi YoonSince 2007, by Game Industry Promotion Act and its Implementing Decree, S. Koreans shoud not do business for exchanging or mediating exchanges of, and repurchasing in-game money or data like in-game items that are produced or obtained by copying, adaptating, and hacking the game program or by way of abnomal game-play. The word of 'by way of abnomal game-play' has been generally understood as 'using Bots in game', and many sweatshop owners and RMT dealers who broke the law were punished. On the other hand, Supreme Court of S. Korea ruled that RMT itself is not totally banned by this...


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