Amanda Linder, a graduate teaching assistant at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, now uses Anarchy Online to teach Technical Writing. While past teachers had students read a sci-fi novel as the context for all the writing assignments (reports, instructions, memos, and the like), Amanda has students play – and write from the context of – Anarchy Online. All technical writing assignments and class discussions are now based on in-game content, typically written from the perspective of employees of Omni-Tek, the mega-corporate power in the game.
You can find her very cool course syllabus here.
What happens when fan fiction becomes part of the writing curriculum? We’ve talked about the ramifications of breaking the golden circle IRT economy (i.e. when in-game worth becomes out-of-game wealth), but what happens when in-game literacy practices becomes part of our more general (and offline) understanding of what it means, say, to write? On the one hand, the idea of schools colonizing peoples’ game spaces seems to add one more notch to the belt that marks the closing of the great virtual frontier. On the other hand, though, when the in-game practices are of equal (if not greater) complexity and sophistication of those we want folks to engage in out-of-game, it starts to seem like foolishness not let them “count” in the off-line world as well.
Ah, the eternal question… Should GL have RL consequence? Doesn’t it already?
Thanks, Dan, for a gracious welcome -- and everyone for expressing interest in my article. Greg asked for a thread open for feedback and commentary on the Virtual Property piece, so here it is. Fire away!
As an organizing principle, I'll say this: there are lots of very good reasons people dislike and resent the phenomenon of trades in game-related "goods." I'm just not sure they're any different from the reasons we resent and dislike other people's economic actions overall. This paper tries to explain why we sometimes (stress the SOMETIMES) value private property over communitarian or contractual restrictions on private ownership, and some ruminations as to why that insight might extend to certain kinds of online resources.
We're really delighted to welcome Joshua Fairfield into our little band of misfits, outcasts and ne'er-do-wells. Unfortunately he doesn't really fit our mold: he's got degrees from Swarthmore and the University of Chicago, he clerked for Hon. Danny J. Boggs, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and has taught at Columbia. He is now at the University of Indiana Law School where he teaches electronic commerce law and commercial law.
We thought that he was far too distinguished for us, but he insisted that he was just right: he's deeply, deeply addicted to WoW like the rest of us, and is Council Member of the Hrafn Warband, Silver Hand, Alliance. And his most prized credential is not on his wall, but on his office computer background: a screenshot of his first Ragnaros kill. It's sad, really, just how like us he is.
Also he recently published a great piece on virtual property which you all should read. So we let him in. Maybe he can bring up the tone of the place (though he's gonna have to work hard to counteract Julian and Greg's influence.)
We're very glad to have him.
I'm sick with sadness and I need your advice. I don't think my player cares about me any more. After we first met I thought that the relationship would be wonderful. He spent lots of time with me, sending me mail, taking me to interesting places in Ironforge--the auctionhouse, the postbox just inside the commons, the bank. We even once went to the Great Forge (though I think he might have been lost). He was always showering me with gifts: first was 20 bales of wool, then a magic belt, 6 linen bags, and some gnoll spittle. I thought "this is the real thing!!!11!!"
But since then things have deteriorated. We never go anywhere except the bank, the auctionhouse, the postbox, then the auctionhouse, and back to the postbox. But even worse than this, I think that he has another avatar on the side. He makes me wire money to her, money that I've earned in the auctionhouse through my own hard efforts. I think that he's just using me.
I don't want to give him up, but I can't go on like this. I'd like to take the relationship to the next level, but I wait and wait, and never hear a "ding".
What can I do?
Yours in desperation
Mule (lvl 1)
Why do so many virtual worlds feature magic?
One explanation is that virtual worlds have to be the same as the real world to a great extent (so that players aren't distracted by trying to understand an alien physics), but that they also have to be different in key ways (so that players can perceive them to be separate from reality, thereby freeing them to act in ways they wouldn't ordinarily). Magic is a well-understood trope that enables this distinction to be made very easily.
But still, why magic rather than technology or the supernatural or even history? All of them can easily separate the real from the imagined without distracting the player. Why magic?
AC05 happened this last weekend. Although last year’s conference was specifically focused on digital worlds, this year’s topic of Artificial Intelligence and Intelligence Augmentation provided plenty of fodder for TN readers. First of all, Vernor Vinge – who’s book “True Names” described the reality of immersive, graphical spaces as well as anyone and predates “Snow Crash” by over a decade – talked about the singularity and the issues that could determine whether it is a “hard” or “soft” takeoff. He focused on the development of “creativity and intellect that surpasses present day humans” as the next radical change and compared it favorably to previous transitions related to fire, agriculture, and the printing press.
Read on for more . . .[EDIT: Added data in body in support of the ASF folks being on top of things!]
Earlier this year it was announced that "the biggest heist/coup/assassination in Eve(-Online) history" had took place. The story has been percolating in cyberspace for a while. It is now featured in the September 2005 PCGamer ("Murder Incorporated")...
Last year when I was busy in Loch Modan, I stumbled over Stonewrought Dam (pictured at right) which spans its northern edge. Peering over the edge, I succumbed to a primal urge and flung my low-level night elf warrior over the edge. I died, of course -- but it was fun.
It's the plague!
Wait, don't run. Actually, stay right there.
The ever-connected Alice has picked up on a Shacknews report of a plague hitting TN darling WoW. Players beating a certain boss return home with an unexpected gift for their fellow players. Death, confusion and hilarity ensue.
Inspired game design or total screw-up? Or both?
I need some help from the collective and distributed mind that is you.
I've become interested in the emergence of financial intermediaries and markets in MMOGs/VWs. So I'd like your suggestions of examples you've seen of this. I'm not so interested in the markets/financial actors which the game devs have created, or in the RMT stuff which we all know about; instead I'm interested in player-created market-makers and financiers.
My two-year-old son said said something interesting yesterday. He had just made his own MOG character for the first time - surprisingly easy, and this was EQII, not WoW or YPP - and he was running around and figuring out targeting. He highlighted a snake or a rat or something, and I pressed the 'attack' button. The combat sequence scared him, though, so I turned his guy around and ran off. But I did that only after standing there with my mouth open for a second. Because he didn't say 'turn the game off' or 'help my guy' or 'what do I do'. He said 'Get me out of here.'
Perhaps because of his still-uncluttered appreciation of reality, he was already mentally immersed in the virtual world. He was already in there.
Nate and others have talked about their kids. Anyone else have child or family stories?
People came to this frontier to become what they could not become elsewhere - heroes and millionaires. The early, undeveloped economy caused many inconveniences. Certain common tasks required a great deal of time to complete. Many Chinese workers took advantage of this entrepreneurial opportunity by providing a service that dramatically enhanced the quality of life. Providing this service was no trivial task, but involved tedious repetition, painstaking attention to detail, and often consumed most of their waking hours in a small room in front of the same machine. Nevertheless, their hard work did pay off. Some became wealthy and soon the Chinese referred to this place as the Gold Mountain. Yet their frugal industriousness incited others, particularly the Westerners who had arrived earlier. This triggered a period of systematic abuse and humiliation targeting the Chinese. Legal constraints were created in an attempt to put these Chinese workers out of work. Individual Chinese workers were harassed and sometimes physically assaulted. Mob lynching followed.
This narrative seems incredibly familiar (see Constance’s presentation from SoP II), but the year is 1870. And I am, of course, talking about the genesis of the Chinese laundry-shops (“yi-shan-guan”) during and after the California Gold Rush (see “The Chinese in America” by Iris Chang, 2003).
Arnold Schwarzenegger, California governor and icon for a bloodthirsty annihiliting robot, is currently considering signing a bill authored by child psychologist Leland Yee and now passed by California's legislature, according to which depictions of bloodthirsty annihilating robots, or of the termination of bloodthirsty annihilating robots, shall not be sold to those too young to understand the difference between imaginary and genuine bloodthirsty annihilating robots. Gamepolitics unravels the irony; Slashdot reviewed what some lawyers think. Thanks to Hector Postigo for the link.
This conference is different, first, because it's being hosted by the National Academies, the premier academic organization in the United States. Second, representatives from 30 funding agencies will be there. The conference was developed in stealth mode, but the remaining seating is now open to the public. Invitation here [note: 3.1mb; link will go bad when the event is over]. See inside for an accompanying text.
Though many MMORPGs have "fishing" as a profession, I recently received the first phishing email related to VWs. Yes, it seems that your game account may be as valuable and vulnerable as your bank account.
The full message is provided under the fold, along with some commentary about it.
More later. Under water here.
The extraordinary rise of WOW continues to enchant the MSM (mainstream media). The Gray Lady has a piece today on the success of WOW, and does a nice job of explaining its significance. My favorite bit in the article is this, though:
In any case, as in years past, there are those who believe that paid online gaming is all a fad anyway.
"I don't think there are four million people in the world who really want to play online games every month," said Michael Pachter, a research analyst for Wedbush Morgan, a securities firm. "World of Warcraft is such an exception. I frankly think it's the buzz factor, and eventually it will come back to the mean, maybe a million subscribers."
"It may continue to grow in China," Mr. Pachter added, "but not in Europe or the U.S. We don't need the imaginary outlet to feel a sense of accomplishment here. It just doesn't work in the U.S. It just doesn't make any sense."
The sad news, boys and girls, is that securities firms like Wedbush Morgan are not publicly listed, so it's not possible to take a short position against them. But in the unlikely event that Michael Pachter is reading this, let me be the first to bet him a steak dinner that he's wrong. I am absolutely certain that WOW will continue to grow, and morever that the MMO market will also expand at rates that will continue to boggle the imagination. People who invest based on his advice are going to lose their shirts, virtual and otherwise.
A recent, charming article in the Wall Street Journal (Aug 22, "Arabs on Holiday Say, 'Rain, Rain Don't Go Away'") dramatizes the attraction of the environment and its elements to people in the real world. What about the virtual world?
State of Play III: Social Revolutions is the third annual State of
Play conference on the future of cyberspace convened by the Institute
for Information Law & Policy at New York Law School, the
Information Society Project at Yale Law School, and the Berkman Center
for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. This year, we focus on
social relationships in the metaverse and how to build vibrant,
flourishing, creative places.
Press release here. [Edit: link to donation site is here: American Red Cross.] In addition, Sony Online Entertainment has identified some 13,000 account-holders as being residents of the areas affected by Katrina and will secure their accounts against any time-based decay effects, until they log in again. That's not going to have a major effect on their well-being, but it certainly is a decent thing to do.
Now, if only someone could ban, or toad, the PKers, griefers, and loot-whores running around Poydras Street...