Wired's newest issue is about [drumroll] games. A hefty chunk of which is on MMOGs. Much to tease out, but we received a great note from a reader about one article and we wanted to share it with you.
Steven Johnson has a piece in which he suggests a convergence of game worlds is probable and/or desirable, and that we should be able to move toons across worlds. Andy Havens wrote to Steven Johnson to disagree. He writes:
"Er... yeah. Because people have always wanted to see how Heathcliff would
have ganged up with Beowulf in a tag-team match against Luke Skywalker and
Madame Bovary using those bone clubs from "2001."
"While some of the stuff you mention might make sense -- player data a la my eBay rating in a network of games that might rank how good a player I am in various games -- the idea of trading experience, items, characters, etc. from game to game is just, in most cases -- sorry -- dumb. The best games (especially online) are often story-based entertainments as much as click-fest videogames. The use of anything -- even language -- from outside the "magic circle" of the game does what dramatists call "breaking the 4th wall."
"Yes, we know that Tom Cruise, whom we watching in "The Last Samurai" is that
same guy from "Mission Impossible." But if, at the critical moment in the
19th century, Japanese film he were to whip out a plastic-explosive, pull
off a latex mask and say, "Show me the money, $#%!" we would run screaming
from the movie.
"There's plenty interesting to say about where online gaming convergence is
going. Cross-over of "stuff" from game-to-game ain't it.
I suspect that the difference here comes down to one's view of embodiment, the avatar-as-self, and the distinction between game worlds and social worlds. Or [shudder] perhaps it's Ye Olde Narratology-Ludology Punch-and-Judy show. But an divergence of views by smart people is always good, since value is often (always?) found in the interstices, not in the received wisdom.