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May 18, 2004

Comments

1.

lol second life lol

2.

They're on to something. One day some independent film maker is going to do a movie about 2L and There.

3.

What...no rants here yet? No dire predictions for the apocalyptic end of virtual worlds as we know them? Just J getting the giggles. Come on people, don't disappoint me now. I guess everyone must be recovering from E3 or perhaps on flights to Copenhagen.

I hadn't started TN-ing yet when the previous discussion of Avalon was a hot topic. But it appears that I am in the minority in my embracing of projects that blur boundaries between vw's and RL. Probably because my experience with vw's has always involved a wonderfully fuzzy blend of VW and RL. I hang in the social vw's that don't fit the pure RPG online gaming category that most folks here prefer. Too often all these virtual worlds are lumped into one category when they are really different animals. We need to start making more refined distinctions about the different types of virtual worlds out there. Not everything fits the EQ/SWG/Lineage/[insert your favorite RPG here] mold.

I understand and support the right to play in gaming worlds. The need to retain the sanctity of the magic circle in gaming worlds. Really, I do get it. But I don't think all virtual worlds should be limited by a strict separation of virtual and real. I am personally more interested in the worlds that blur boundaries. But I'm a boundary-blurring type of gal.

Oh, and I wouldn't consider Mrs. Jones clothing in 2L a "violent collision" between virtual and RL. America's Army using a virtual world to recruit RL soldiers - now there's a violent collision for you. But couture available in virtual and RL forms? Not so much.

4.

Blimey that woke me up.


Betsy>I guess everyone must be recovering from E3 or perhaps on flights to Copenhagen.
Yikes I’ve not even packed yet.

Big TN turn out at this event in case anyone is interested in late booking :)


>But it appears that I am in the minority in my embracing of projects that blur boundaries between vw's and RL.

Possibly. I think that some parts of the boundary are necessarily lot less defensible (or more permeable if you will) than many would like them to be, so I’m not sure what camp I’m in here.

>We need to start making more refined distinctions about the different types of virtual worlds out there. Not everything fits the EQ/SWG/Lineage/[insert your favorite RPG here] mold.

Well we do generally talk about social worlds as distinct from the rest, any further categorisation tends to get into a bit of a taxonomy nightmare – do you have some finer grained categories that you see emerging?


>But I'm a boundary-blurring type of gal.
Er, yay

>Oh, and I wouldn't consider Mrs. Jones clothing in 2L a "violent collision" between virtual and RL.
OK, but ‘gentle bump’ is hardly good copy now is it.

>America's Army using a virtual world to recruit RL soldiers - now there's a violent collision for you.
Indeedy, we don’t cover AA enough here.


>But couture available in virtual and RL forms? Not so much.
Though I would argue that things like virtual shopping is likely to have a wider and more profound effect than virtual recruiting, but then I take shopping very seriously indeed.

5.

Betsy Book>it appears that I am in the minority in my embracing of projects that blur boundaries between vw's and RL.

Don't worry about it; some day, you'll be in the majority.

>Too often all these virtual worlds are lumped into one category when they are really different animals.

I for one have been keen on making the distinctions for some time. Partly this is for academic reasons (what it is people get out of VWs) and partly it's for pragmatic reasons (if the law treats all virtual worlds as if they were identical then players are going to get a raw deal).

Bear in mind, of course, that to people in general not only are There and EverQuest pretty well the same thing, but as "online games" they're the same as CounterStrike and StarCraft. Legislation brought out to moderate "computer games" would almost certainly lump Second Life and SWG in with the likes of GTA. It's important that we split the hairs here, but we're doing so mainly for the benefit of future players: for the next few years at least, virtual worlds are "just" computer games and can expect to be treated as such.

>Not everything fits the EQ/SWG/Lineage/[insert your favorite RPG here] mold.

That's right. Some of them don't even have graphics.

>But I don't think all virtual worlds should be limited by a strict separation of virtual and real.

It doesn't bother me that some worlds don't want a magic circle - that's fine, if that's what they want. There's a place for SL and There and all the other social-style graphical VWs we can expect to see in their wake. I don't think any developer would really argue the point that if SL and There want to take that route, they should be allowed to.

What bothers me is the reverse: that those virtual worlds that deliberately breach the magic circle create precedents that apply to those that don't want to breach it. That's where I get nervous.

>I am personally more interested in the worlds that blur boundaries.

All virtual worlds blur boundaries to some degree, particularly with the notion of the self as player and self as character. Furthermore, all virtual worlds with a magic circle can take a little extra-circle activity - they're reasonably robust. However, you can push them too far.

They're like Van der Graaf generators, with the charge as the magic circle. They can take a few touches and deliver a few sparks, because there's more energy involved in supporting the magic circle than there is leaking out. However, too many people touching the dome at the same time will drain it. Connecting the dome to earth (ground) will completely remove the magic.

Developers who want to ground their virtual worlds in reality are at liberty to do so. Developers who don't want their virtual worlds grounded should be able to prevent its occurrence.

There is no reason why both types of developer can't co-exist.

Richard

6.

Every world has to be somewhat grounded in reality, at least in scope and design. Reality brings familiarity. If there was no aspect of reality, the game world would be a big acid trip.

I will never disparage anyone for playing a game and having fun with it, but that doesn't mean I won't question it for my own sake. I play games to escape, not to have the real world shoved back in my face. I generally accept that most players have the same drive at the cores of their motivations.

Weren't MUDs supposed to be new grounds for social interaction between people that would otherwise be separated by geography and other real-world barriers? Wasn't there supposed to be some shared experience that made the world unique? If so, then what is it?

All I'm seeing here is a virtual mall. You know what I do in real malls? Avoid talking to people. Unless I need someone else's input about what I buy, or they need mine, there's no need for mall-walking to be a shared experience.

Worlds blurring boundaries? They will always be blurred, because players will have to exist in both worlds to experience either one. The line must remain drawn in the sand, however, and it's up to developers to keep re-drawing it.

Worlds like SL might be fun to observe as an academic pursuit, but I keep having to ask myself, why would anyone think this is fun?

7.

I think it is fun, but then, I don't think it is a virtual mall. In fact, in nearly 2 years of using Second Life, I can't recall buying anything.

Is selling high fashion breaking the magic circle? I can't afford Mrs Jones' stuff in RL, but I can in SL. It is still a fantasy, and I imagine more people dream of riches than of becoming a dark elf mage.

I think that much more interesting is RRR's merchandising:

https://www.spacethinkdream.com/le_merchandise.php

Fizik assures us that they will be releasing the final t-shirt "In-world" as well. Suprisingly, while there has been a lot of controversy surrounding Mrs Jones, no one has complained at all about them making these t-shirts which we will wear in our first and second life, advertising SL in both. I know I want one, but I can't decide if this makes SL more or less immersive.

What happens when a user does the opposite and takes a outfit they have uploaded and created for SL, and sells real versions of it? I can't wait to read about it here :-)

8.

bbc>Is selling high fashion breaking the magic circle? I can't afford Mrs Jones' stuff in RL, but I can in SL.

No, you can afford them in real life. You're buying them using L$, which are bought using US$, therefore if you can afford them in SL you can afford them in RL. They're inexpensive.

What you say you can't afford is what a real version of the product would cost you in RL.

Richard

9.

One issue there, Richard.

"you're buying them using L$, which are bought using US$"

L$ are usually not bought with US$. AFAIK, only a small group of users resort to purchasing L$. The majority of us earn our L$.

10.

If that were the case, Miller, then why would LL welcome GOM and IGE into the gameplay? How many days working would it take you to "earn" that amount of money to purchase those items if you didn't purchase L$ from either of those sites?

I really don't think that RRR is trying to market real life brands into the game, i.e., Pepsi/Coke with ideals of having players purchase them in real life. The link back to Mrs Jones is not found on any search engine. This just may be a test of branding exclusivity of real-life exclusivity into a game.

11.

Mrs Jones: Creative Content vs Lazy Media Placement

Although we believe 'contextual advertising' is valid, especially in the mainstream gaming world: authenticity and the 'so real you'll think you’re actually at the game' (EA). We are not interested in just 'placing' Advertising and Brands into Virtual Worlds. What we are interested in is adding ‘creative content’ that creates an experience in VW.

In terms of our goals, we are developing a project based on building from the community out; our long-term goal is to take a Brand from a VW into the real world. Mrs Jones is not a commercial product; her collections are one offs, used for film/video/photo.

Also, Mrs Jones is not ‘breaking the magicians code’. It’s just different ‘fantasy’ content.

The bigger question being posed here is a reclassification of the genre types; MMORPGS is too lose a term now. In a way, it’s undervaluing and confusing the whole market.

Has anyone done any new work in reclassification? (I would be really interested in talking with you if you are.)

Linden$ (linds) and the Green back

From our own experience the economy of Second Life is unique. Buying Linden$ for US dollars does not mean you have an edge in the community. The community is alive with vibrant 'creative expressionists' who are running successful small in-world businesses.

They work with the community to develop their products/services; in some cases this can include a supply chain of up to 20 people. The end product/service is then sold to the community. Most of these people will then sell some of their L$ (linds) to supplement their own RL income. In other cases, people are buying L$ to use for seed capital for expansion and growth.

IGE/GOM is fast becoming more than just a money exchange: it’s a loans company and a venture capitalist.

This is vastly different to There, who controls the flow of products and manages the supply chain. I wonder how long before the There designers rise up and throw their ‘mouse’ into their virtual Looms? (Saboteurs – clogs into Looms)

www.spacethinkdream.com
www.mrsj.co.uk
www.riversrunred.com
www.secondlife,com

12.

They welcome IGE and GOM simply because it's another option of obtaining L$. However, as someone who is a member of the SL community, I can tell you that most people DO NOT buy L$. Those who buy L$ are buying it for a specific purchase, like land. Those who are selling their L$ have most likely been making a lot of money in SL, maybe selling clothes, or running a casino, or whatever, and they want to get some US$ for it.

I personally would never buy L$. I don't want to mix my real financial situation with my virtual one. (That's one of the reasons I hate There.com)

13.

Fizik says, "They work with the community to develop their products/services; in some cases this can include a supply chain of up to 20 people. "

Colin Linden says, "While we are a service provider, in as much as we provide you access to the Second Life service, we are not a service provider for account management, monetary transfer, or capital gain."

So, which is it?

14.

Fizik wrote: our long-term goal is to take a Brand from a VW into the real world.

IMO this is the most interesting part of what you're doing with Avalon, Fizik. The Mrs. J brand is slightly different because it did originate in RL. But it would even more interesting to see a member of 2L begin by designing clothing or other objects for the virtual world, create a vw-based brand around that product line, then bring their brand into the real world somehow.

Has anyone done any new work in reclassification?

I'd love to get a bunch of vw enthusiasts into a room with a big whiteboard and collaboratively map some of this out. I've been working on a conceptual map which as of now only exists in my head but when I get some free time I'd like to put a draft down on paper and post a link to it here for comments. I realize I can't keep whining about the need to look beyond RPGs without actually offering an alternate view ;)

Richard wrote: What bothers me is the reverse: that those virtual worlds that deliberately breach the magic circle create precedents that apply to those that don't want to breach it. That's where I get nervous.

I totally understand. Maybe those smart lawyerly types like Lastowka, Hunter, Benkler, and Balkin can continue to help guide us through the murky legal waters.

15.

Betsy Book>it would even more interesting to see a member of 2L begin by designing clothing or other objects for the virtual world, create a vw-based brand around that product line, then bring their brand into the real world somehow.

This would be interesting, yes. I can see there would be a ton of practical issues around it, most of which haven't even been enumerated anywhere. The demographics of SL v RL, the size ranges of avatars, the fabrics, the fact that what looks good on an avatar might look bad on a person, the effect of manufacturing costs - well, you get the picture. I'm sure that someone in that garment industry could list an impressive number of potential obstacles that would need to be overcome.

What interests me most is the design of VW-specific clothes that work in the VW but wouldn't be practical in TL. Example: clothes that look like they're made out of hoops will work in a VW but not in RL because of the physics (lack of gravitational effects) and the fact that in RL you'd either freeze to death or get horizontal bands of sun tan (if you had fair skin). What I'd REALLY like to see is whether these "impractical" forms of clothing would lead to different male/female fashions in VWs. There are definite social norms for what is acceptable for men/women to wear (more for men than for women), but when "clothes" appear that don't map in any way onto reality (because they couldn't exist in reality), who will get to wear them? And, more interestingly, why?

Richard

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