The Alphaville Herald - All the Sims News That's Fit to Print

A number of virtual worlds have company-sponsored 'news' feeds, but they're often digital infomercials (though sometimes not). With the founding of the Alphaville Herald, however, a virtual free press comes into existence. The Herald is an independent news service focusing not on Home Town, USA but on Alphaville, TSO (The Sims Online).

Is the Herald truly free? Witness:

"One of my sims (Doctor Legion) foolishly took a job in a robot factory. Now he/she/it is hounded by M.O.M.I. for absenteeism...The joke is that we are slaves to the machines, but given the dynamics of this place (we sort of *are* slaves to machines) and our uneasy relationship with Maxis, this joke IS NOT FUNNY."

M.O.M.I. is "Municipal Observation and Management Incorporated," TSO's governing nanny, straight out of Brazil (the movie not the country). But, as Alexander Hamilton said in defending poor John Peter Zenger, "the laws of our country have given us a right to liberty of both exposing and opposing arbitrary power (in these parts of the world at least) by speaking and writing truth."

Whatever part of the world they occupy (indeed, which world?), free Sims sleep easier tonight, knowing that they now have a tireless defender deploying the full powers of the public press! On, Alphaville Herald! On!


Comments on The Alphaville Herald - All the Sims News That's Fit to Print:

Stewart Butterfield says:

You say "A number of virtual worlds have company-sponsored 'news' feeds, but they're often digital infomercials (though sometimes not)."

I click on the _though sometimes not_ link. First sentence I read there is: "After their monster success with Burning Life, the Lindens decided to aim for another success -- with monster." Zzzt. Digital infomercial ;)

Posted Nov 4, 2003 2:25:12 AM | link

Stewart Butterfield says:

Ooop! Mean to add: someday someone will make a Brazil virtual world. I hope I am on that team :)

Posted Nov 4, 2003 2:27:13 AM | link

Raph Koster says:

This isn't exactly new, though of course it's amusing given the TSO context. But what if not a free press were the sites like Vault, Crossroads, and Stratics? Editorials, "business pages" of tricks and tips, news items updated daily...

Posted Nov 4, 2003 11:51:03 AM | link

Edward Castronova says:

Good point. I wonder what journalism professionals think about independent information websites. They seem to play the same role as newspapers.

Posted Nov 4, 2003 12:26:52 PM | link

Peter Ludlow says:

Wooot! Thanks for the kind words (i.e. plug) about our blog, Ted. I should point out that an earlier incarnation of The Alphaville Herald, the TSO Herald also did some limited critical reportage of TSO, including the fact that Maxis removed criticism from the TSO user boards.

We have some pretty serious stories in the works, including one on flaws with the TSO privacy policy, one on in-game prostitution, and also one on the problem of minors pursuing adults for sex in the game (big problem by some accounts). We also wanna review some of the "illegal" software patches (allowing nude-presenting sims online)and bots which work the money objects 24-7. The latter are presumably the source of the flood of simoleans that has demolished the in-game economy.

Posted Nov 4, 2003 12:50:15 PM | link

Hunter says:

As MMO worlds become more open-ended, the need for journalism increases since you’re no longer just covering a fantasy narrative scripted by the developers, but rather chronicling the creation of a society. As Raph points out, EQ/UO/DAOC/SWG all have lots of user-created editorial content floating around the games, but they tend to deal with game mechanics, scripted events, etc. I’ve definitely observed a correlation between emergent play and the desire to interpret, chronicle, preserve and understand the goings on within a world. Do journalists begat news or the other way around?

Posted Nov 4, 2003 1:22:55 PM | link

Bruce Boston says:

We have also been surprised at the demand for news sites and reporting about There.

One of my favorite sites is http://www.calderasuntimes.com/

This site is supported by VW Business Advertising, much like a RL news website might be funded by RL Business Ads.

Posted Nov 4, 2003 3:12:54 PM | link

Hamlet Linden says:

> First sentence I read there is: "After their
> monster success with Burning Life, the
> Lindens decided to aim for another success --
> with monster." Zzzt. Digital infomercial ;)

Well, that might be an understandable impression from reading a single entry like that one. However, to get a fuller sense of what I'm trying to do in New World Notes, please check out the Classic Notes section at the site, or the three part article I did on race and identity in-world, from last week, "White Like Me":

PART I:
http://secondlife.com/notes/2003_10_20_archive.php#20031024

PART II:
http://secondlife.com/notes/2003_10_27_archive.php#20031027

Posted Nov 4, 2003 5:50:14 PM | link

Peter Ludlow says:

Following up on the post by Hamlet Linden, it is worth noting that his New World Notes in addition to Julian's reportage served as partial models for what we wanted to do. The diff (in the former case) being that we wanted to be free of company sponsorship and we wanted to cross-breed the idea with some meta-commentary ala terra nova. We'll see if this works...

Posted Nov 4, 2003 8:31:04 PM | link