Greg Lastowka died last night. I really can't find the words, if you can, feel free to comment below.
Following 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 public chat. It's an interesting thread just in purely documentary terms, since developers normally maintain a steely silence about bannings and allow players to represent themselves as the innocent victims of a mistake or a vendetta. But there's also a real pleasure to be had in seeing a player put up their character name, ask in all apparent innocence why they were banned, and to read the community representative quoting back to the player what they said in chat.
I get that this is too labor-intensive to keep up indefinitely. But it's a sign of some smart social thinking to at least do it now and hope to "seed" the emergent culture of the game with a lighter, more inclusive feeling.
The 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.
From several of the talks, it seems game companies, driven by revenues, are collecting data on a massive scale and using it to conduct predictive studies about player data. The method of designing by datastream seems well advanced, although some techniques are more advanced than others. Dmitri Williams seems to have his finger on the pulse, and Raph Koster, the father-doctor of designers, remains as cerebral as ever. Most exciting to me is evidence that companies are using shards to do experiments. That's big stuff, science-wise.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the rampage killer Jared Loughner was a gamer. As usual? Recall Mr. Cho, whose killing of Hokies was followed immediately by angry denunciations of the game industry for programming him thusly. It turns out that the only game in his troubled mind was Sonic the Hedgehog. I guess Sonic only seems to be a cuddly rodent; he's actually the vehicle for a secret code that turns ordinary people into frenzied savages.
Loughner's preferred game was a MUD called Earth Empires. Aha! Now we get to the root of things! Richard Bartle, what insidious mind-altering snippet of code did you hide in MUD1 that has spread across the gaming industry and caused all these murders? Come clean, you rogue hacker!
On a serious note, it appears that Mr. Loughner's MUD community was more supportive and helpful to him than the world at large. He got kicked out of jobs and school, but one gets the impression from WSJ's report that EE forum readers never stopped trying to engage with him or give him advice. Certainly - and this is critical - none of the gamers encouraged him in his ravings.
Legal commentators in the blogosphere (e.g. Nic Suzor, Technollama, Rebecca Tushnet, Venkat & Eric) have already offered some initial thoughts on the Ninth Circuit decision in MDY v. Blizzard. Since I talked about the district court opinion in this case in Chapter 9 of my book, I thought I'd post a few reactions too.
This post is going to be a bit on the long side, but that's only because the issues raised on this appeal are a bit tricky, meaning that I feel the need to lay a little doctrinal groundwork before getting to my thoughts about the case.
Though there was an interesting tortious interference decision in the appeal, I'm going to focus on the two copyright issues that were decided by the Ninth Circuit, one involving a claim that users of MDY's Glider program breached World of Warcraft (WoW)'s software license and the other claiming that users of MDY's Glider program violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)'s prohibitions on circumventing technological protection measures that limit access to copyrighted works. This second claim focused on the operation of Blizzard's Warden program, which monitors a player's computer to see if it is running any unauthorized software.
The appellate court essentially found in favor of MDY on the licensing issue, reversing the lower court, and in favor of Blizzard on the DMCA-Warden issue, affirming the lower court. That adds up to a win for Blizzard. That win could be reversed, in theory, if MDY pursues further appeals. An en banc review of the Ninth Circuit is possible and there's always the slim chance of getting the case reviewed by the United States Supreme Court.
The School of Communication and Information at Rutgers is planning a major conference to be held April 8-9, 2011. The conference will cover the cultural, business, legal, and artistic aspects of the videogame and virtual worlds industries -- pretty much everything practical and academic about gaming. If you'd like to spend a couple of days conversing with other folks who think seriously about gamers and the video game industry, please consider submitting to the Call for Papers, which can be found here: http://bit.ly/gbgcall (Deadline for 500-word abstract = Dec. 15th.)
For more information about the conference see this link: http://bit.ly/gamebehindgame
More details about the sorts of topics we're looking to explore below the fold:
On IGN, an announcement for the Michael Jackson MMO we've all been waiting for: Planet Michael. The announcer 'couldn't stop laughing'. No violence. You win using 'the power of dance'. Using your keyboard, not your actual body. Free to play. Virtual items will be available for 'real-world currency'. Charitable contributions enabled.
From the press release:
Planet Michael will be an immersive virtual space themed after iconic visuals drawn from Michael’s music, his life and the global issues that concerned him. Entire continents will be created that will celebrate Michael’s unique genius in a way that underscores his place as the greatest artist of all time. Michael’s longtime fans will feel at home as they find themselves in places that seem familiar and yet unknown at the same time, and new generations will discover and experience Michael’s life in a way never before imagined. At its core, Planet Michael is a massive social gaming experience that will allow everyone, from the hardcore fan to the novice, to connect and engage in collaborative in-game activities with people worldwide.
Though my initial inclination was to disparage, maybe this could work... MMO universes drawn from the world-views of famous individuals. Elvis-verse? BeatlesWorld? DalaiLamaUniverse? PicassoPlanet? LadyGagaLand! I'm impressed that Planet Michael's mechanics are designed to uphold his pacifist leaning and philanthropic efforts, and I can imagine that forays into his imaginings are ripe with possibility <chortle>.
I predict the vanity MMO will become a trend, and as much as I hate to say it, could be the break-through-to-the-mainstream (the Second Life commercial push all over again). What do you all think? Will we see the Housewives of Beverly Hills obsessed with their first virtual worlds?
Disclaimer: I confess to being a fangirl of NCSoft, publishers of City of Heroes, which I studied for about 5 years. They have also published the Lineages, the original Guild Wars and Aion.
- accessible to the 'casual', newbie MMO gamer.
- highly instanced combat (Sir Richard cringed).
- grouping that includes NPC mercenaries.
- very beautiful emotes like the Monk's dance. Amazing landscapes, architecture, everything.
- alternative play modes allowing high-level play for the low-level n00b.
- observer mode: enjoy the gank gladiator-style, you emerge un-scathed.
- 'no loot stealing, spawn camping, and endless travel'.
- guild capes (I confess to leaving guilds if they had ugly designs that didn't match my outfits. How shallow of me!)
I have more than a few opinions about what an exciting, 21st century MMO might encompass. Happy to say it appears that true evolution is in the works. Deviations/expansions of established MMO conventions in Guild Wars 2:
- Doing away with the grind. Not all will agree this is a good thing, but as my kid says, there is nothing worse than a videogame that is both 'hard and BORING'.
- New character classes (professions) like the Ranger.
- Personalized story-lines. NPCs remember you. You are not on the exact same quest path as everyone else, with the same goals, outfits, spells, items, etc. at the same levels.
- Cause and effect prevail, personal agency is paramount. Changes you effect on the environment persist.
- Dynamic events, a mechanic that has worked very well for CoX.
- PvP in non-zoned, non-instanced areas. Huge-scale world vs world combat events.
- Variations on healing and death rituals.
And for the techno-geeky among you, it's all being built on a new physics engine, Havok, that allows the designers and developers to more fully realize their conceptual vision:
We're creating a world, and what's the point of exploring a world if
there isn't the awe and wonder, you know? We try to create those moments
of awe and wonder. - Jeff Grubb, ArenaNet
For those of you who don't readily embrace change, Guild Wars servers will continue running, and an ongoing free trial is on offer.
Any predictions on the effect on social dynamics, innovations that are likely to stick, etc? Other games trying new things? My kid, for instance, is obsessed with Wizards 101, a pay-for-stuff-the-kid-MUST-have MMO that creates accessibility and safety for the semi-literate aspiring gamer.
I think things are about to get very exciting in Videogame Land. To over-use an over-used term, epic!
More on GW2:
This week Google launched Monopoly City Streets. The concept is simple. You buy real streets, develop them virtually, and earn a corresponding virtual income. Like Jerry Paffendorf's million-inches-in-Detroit, MCS combines alternate reality, games, virtual worlds, and social networking.
Is it good? I have no idea. Can't get in, because massive user inflow has already crashed the product. I'm reminded of the way that Quake broke some parts of the network when it launched, and EverQuest clogged all the bandwidth of San Diego on its opening day. When somebody comes up with a good idea on the net, the user storm becomes awe-inspiring.
There's a lesson here in the contrast with Google's Lively, a virtual world of avatars and rooms where you could hang out. /yawn. The crash there was caused not by massive user inflow but massive user apathy. Merely virtualizing something is dumb. VR a necessary tool, not a sufficient one. To create new energy, you have to reinvent the game people are playing.
Thanks to Daniel Polonsky for pointing this out.
The GLS conference in beautiful Madison every summer is one of the highlights of the year for many game researchers. Constance Steinkuehler, Kurt Squire, and the gang of incredibly capable GLS students somehow combine high-level discussions, fascinating presentations, and (most important) great gaming time and time again. The coming year's theme is "Learning Through Interaction," and I've put the full call for papers after the jump.
Pew has a report out that include some data on virtual worlds. Their view is that virtual worlds have yet to catch on. Data they cite: only 2% of
internet users (Edit: in the text, the authors say "gamers" here.) have visited a virtual world. On the other hand, they say that 9% of Internet users "gamers" have played MMOGs. And 6% of adults on the internet have made an avatar. [Edit: I'm really confused about what exactly they did.]
Weird numbers, given that MMOGs are virtual worlds, and avatars are things in virtual worlds, and the survey questions seem to have "internet users" as the base, not "gamers". Well, the questions follow.
Two years back, a rehab center in Amsterdam made news headlines because they started a treatment program for video game addicts. They saw gaming problems as analogous to substance abuse and used similar treatment techniques.
But today, the founder of the program has come out and said that they no longer think that gaming problems are an addiction and they are changing how they help these gamers. Some choice quotes from the founder:
"But the more we work with these kids the less I believe we can call this addiction. What many of these kids need is their parents and their school teachers - this is a social problem."
"This gaming problem is a result of the society we live in today," Mr Bakker told BBC News. "Eighty per cent of the young people we see have been bullied at school and feel isolated."
"In most cases of compulsive gaming, it is not addiction and in that case, the solution lies elsewhere."
It's good to hear other people saying this too. As I noted in Daedalus also two years back, taking away the game doesn't solve the problem because gaming problems are not fundamentally rooted in the technology. Calling it a "gaming addiction" distracts us from the real problems.
So in 2009, Google Lively will be Google Dead-As-A-Doornaily. We never got too excited about Lively's current form around here. I was always confused
about how it aligned with Google's core business. Still, it's too bad
to see the big G moving out of this space and admitting defeat. More
news via Google. A brief post-mortem after the fold.
Everybody wants to use evolutionary mechanisms in new media. There are folks who program little AI bots and let them evolve. I feel this is misguided in that a pre-programmed AI is never going to mutate the way a real entity would. Automata are never going to come up with molotov cocktails and IEDs. A virtual world, I've argued, is the best way to get the emergent/evolutionary thing going: replace the programmed automata with people. You'll get plenty of little nasties you never anticipated.
Now, Spore was supposed to give us an an example of how much better this strategy would be. In Spore, real people were going to make creatures that would survive or die out. But the Spore we eventually got doesn't do that, Science reports. Basically, Spore sucks. They didn't make a virtual world in which everybody's animals had to survive in competition over scarce resources. They made a toy.
OK. So look, just make a virtual world with the people as the entities. You'll get evolution.
Our friends at the Virtual Economy Research Network in Finland have added a bunch of content and launched a new strategy for reporting developments in virtual goods, RMT, business models, and more. Their bibliography is already the best in the business. Already worth a high-priority bookmark, VERN's future seems ever brighter. See this post for details.
Via Wired comes this bit of news about the Pentagon's fears that WoW (specifically) could be used to organize a terrorist attack. This isn't the first time intelligence agencies have considered what implications virtual worlds have for terrorism, and noting this ongoing interest on their part is just something we've gotten in the habit of doing around here. What does catch one's eye about this one is the level of detail provided in the simulated WoW scenario (check out the screenies). Does this change our assessment of their risk assessment?
What do little girls dream of?
A number of journalists, myself included, are pretty psyched about this new, small-scale MMO called Lila Dreams. It's still in the early stages of development, but it's due to be published by Kongregate later this year, when it'll be available to play free. According to designer Jason McIntosh, the game takes place in the imagination of an eleven-year-old girl, where "darkness... surrounds the world, constantly encroaching inward and eating away the landscape. But there is also going to be an array of strange creatures from Lila's thoughts and nightmares with which to contend and befriend." The concept art, the creative concept, and the game's small (three-person) but enthusiastic team make Lila Dreams a promising title to keep an eye on when it comes to innovation in MMOs. We all love fantasy titles like World of Warcraft and social environments like Second Life. but it's refreshing to think there are new artistic directions we can take virtual worlds!
From the release:
The USC Institute for Network Culture and Global Kids present a discussion on Virtual Liberties: Do Avatars Dream of Civil Rights?
12:00p.m. PST on Monday, January 28, 2008
Please join the USC Institute for Network Culture and Global Kids for the first event in an upcoming series on philanthropy and virtual worlds.
Our own Cory Ondrejka has left Linden Lab, and the SL blogosphere is abuzz. News reports can be found at CNET and InformationWeek, for starters. Best of luck to Cory -- like many I'll be eager to see what he does next (beyond take a cushy quasi-academic break somewhere, à la Al Gore ;-) ).
As for Linden Lab, if interested folks would like to muse about what this might mean for it and Second Life, please feel free to weigh in.
I'd like to let you know about a conference being held at Emory University on February 11. I know there are many virtual worlds conferences these days. This one is different. Let me set a historical context.
There have been virtual worlds conferences for many years. The industry itself has run the Austin Game Conference, and there have been several academic conferences centered on the humanities: interesting discussions without the intent of having a practical impact one way or another. (And there's nothing wrong with that.) Then came State of Play in 2003, at New York Law School, the most influential conference of that era. That conference produced a community of hard-headed people, a community that then developed the advice and reasoning that courts and legislatures are using today to deal with the virtual worlds legal issues we knew would come.
Soon, firms became interested in virtual worlds, and a series of Virtual Worlds Conference and Expos have allowed that community to develop marketing methods, business models, and interoperability standards. Second Life has been the main driver in that area.
Throughout this period, many of us said that the next thing would be a revolution in social and behavioral science. Virtual worlds will change society, making them a research subject in their own right. But virtual worlds would also be an important tool for researchers, a controlled environment for studying macro-scale questions, a social science petri dish. As such, virtual worlds would revolutionize the academy as well as society.
These possibilities have now been thrust into the spotlight by the publication, in Lancet and Epidemiology, of research on the Corrupted Blood plague in World of Warcraft. A trickle of virtual world social science papers is appearing. It appears we are now entering the next phase, in which hard-nosed, quantitative, social and behavioral scientists will address the likely impact of virtual worlds across all society. A community is forming, and the first conference of this nascent community will meet at Emory University on February 11, 2008.
Innovations is a relatively new journal from MIT Press edited by Philip E. Auerswald and Iqbal Z. Quadir, and it focuses on technology and governance (two frequent topics here), with a specific focus on their policy implications. A regular component of the periodical is the presentation of cases by innovators themselves, accompanied by critical commentaries. The latest issue includes a case study of Second Life by our own Cory Ondrejka, with commentaries by Philip Evans of The Boston Consulting Group, Paul R. Verkuil of the Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, and, well, me. A bit more below the fold; dig in and comment, if you like.
Daniel Terdiman, long time FoTN, has a new book and blog out. Which apart from me wanting to plug, led to think about the amazing weight of books that are emerging about virtual worlds and especially Second Life. Looking at the Amazon pre-order page for Daniel's book discloses no less than 16 books on how to [(make money from), (understand), (have sex in), (generally deal with)] Second Life. You know that something is significant when the "Dummies Guide To Second Life" comes out. And a quick search for "virtual worlds" on Amazon brings up a metric assload of books, some of which actually look quite interesting (and some of them are not about Second Life, amazingly).
Arden: The World of William Shakespeare ended a year of development yesterday, closing with a stress test. (Many thanks to our alpha testers!) Unfortunately, that might be the last bit of news from Arden for a long time. We have come to the end of our funding, and while we are still working, I'm not sure when we will have anything worth reporting.
State of Play V, from immaculate Singapore, kicked off this morning with a panel on "Building Businesses in Virtual Worlds." As I write I'm listening as the panel wraps up, with the panelists -- all involved in business development companies that focus to some extent on virtual worlds -- taking questions from the audience. But continuing to resonate in my mind is a phrase that panel participant Ken Brady of Centric used in his remarks to characterize what businesses should aim for in virtual worlds moving forward: "sustainable branding." This idea was echoed by the others on the panel as the discussion progressed, and to me this should prompt us to continue to think about the current era of virtual worlds as one that is beginning to be defined less by the relationship between their makers and their users (as individuals or nascent groups), and more by the expansion (one might even say colonization) of them by both emergent and pre-existing institutions.
[From Marc Fetscherin, Editor of the Special Issue]
Journal of Electronic Commerce Research (JECR): Special Issue on Virtual Worlds
CALL FOR PAPERS
Special Issue on Virtual Worlds
Submissions due: November 1, 2007
Scheduled Publication date: August 2008
The emergence of virtual worlds and Web 3.D change the way of doing business. Web 3.D is the synonym for Internet-based virtual worlds, where people can create own 3-D *virtual* personalities. Virtual Worlds such as Second Life and others are undergoing an evolution similar to that of the Internet in the mid nineties and might impact profoundly the way people cooperate, communicate, collaborate, and conduct business. The recent entering of companies such as Toyota, American Apparel, Nissan, or Adidas indicate the upcoming role of this platform for the next generation of conducting electronic business. This call for papers is intended to cover a wide range of business and research topics that fall within the broad description of activities, challenges, opportunities, applications, innovations and implications associated with Virtual Worlds as the emerging new online business landscape.
Back in May, I first brought this up.
Well, now we can answer the question, "How much gold?" It turns out, somewhere between $250 and $500 for every single current paying user. As in, about 3-6 years worth of revenue from each of them.
That is to say, between $350,000,000 and $700,000,000.
Various news outlets announced today that Disney has bought Club Penguin for $350M in cash, with the rest of the deal being worth up to another $350M over the next two years. For those doing the math exercises at home, the company has three founders who reportedly own all the equity. They will become part of Disney. Disney has said it has no plans to change Club Penguin at all, other than to add the Disney name to it.
But other than really good times in British Columbia, what does this mean?
Linden Lab has recently changed their policy about gambling in Second Life, effectively banning it (find a clutch of news reports here). The specific demands, in terms of policy and regulation, that gambling and other significant-stakes gaming make on virtual worlds have drawn my attention on TN before. Here I'd like to ask TN-at-large the following: What do you think the effects of this policy are likely to be on SL? On virtual worlds in general (if any)?
Ted's Synthetic Worlds Initiative at Indiana University convened the second Ludium Conference this past weekend in Bloomington. Attendees were charged with hammering out a well-considered platform to guide virtual world policy. We were successful, and the Declaration of Virtual World Policy [Edit: along with its wiki] has been posted by the conference's designers, Studio Cypher. Here it is for your perusal and comment (along with more details):
For years, we've all been citing the subscription data collected by Bruce Woodcock at MMOGChart.com. SirBruce hasn't updated the numbers in a year. Understandable; the data-collection environment is expanding in all directions. Phil 'Vortal' White now bravely steps into the breach with MMOGData.com, apparently to continue and expand on Woodcock's efforts. What's especially cool is that Mr. White has started to break things down by business model. Free-to-play registrations at Runescape can be distinguished from subscription accounts at LOTRO. If he would add a Children/Teen/Adult variable, we would finally have a way to put Webkinz and Gaia and Club Penguin in perspective.
Let me also take this opportunity to howl into the ether once again about the need for formalized, official statistics for this virtual-worlding activity. The activity itself needs a name. What's a good verb for "going into a synthetic world"? And what name do we give to people doing that? Rory Starks has suggested "peggers" for the travelers, from MMORPG being pronounced "more-peg". The verb for doing the traveling would be "pegging."
Advertisers are not the only people who need to know where the eyeballs are. Parliament, Congress, the Bundestag, and the corresponding revenue-seeking agencies, are going to want to know very soon how many peggers there are and how much time they spend pegging. The industry needs to create an official, neutral statistics-reporting agency.
Until that solution is found, though, it would be nice if companies would send honest data to efforts like those of Mr. White.
Almost exactly a year ago I asked whether virtual world makers with significant economies and RMT should "'open their books' about how their economies operate, given how much control they have over the conditions and mechanisms of those economies." Today, via the New York Times, comes this account that suggests that the makers of EvE Online have answered in the affirmative.
Ça plus ça change. But please, when discussing the foundational work in this space can we all agree to get Julian's surname right? It's spelt "Dribble", or if you prefer to render it in the original Flemish, "Drivel".
At the State of Play/Terra Nova Symposium in New York last fall, Bryan Camp of Texas Tech School of Law gave us a primer on tax law as it relates to virtual worlds. I never knew that listening to a tax professor could be so illuminating and fun (really). Now he has written a paper giving a similarly engaging overview of the issues as they relate to SL and WoW.
And to think his elegant solution may be ruined by pizza...
From Reuters and CNN comes this small item about Linden Lab asking the FBI to take a look at the casinos in Second Life, which the FBI apparently has done, although the legal status remains up in the air for now. Former Linden Lab General Counsel -- now Vice President for Business Affairs -- Ginsu Yoon has an interesting quote in the piece:
"It's not always clear to us whether a 3-D simulation of a casino is the same thing as a casino, legally speaking, and it's not clear to the law enforcement authorities we have asked," Yoon said.
I am not a lawyer, but about a year ago I did ask whether we needed a virtual gaming commission. (Gambling, as I pointed out then, is often seen from a policy perspective as requiring special oversight.) Apparently, Linden wonders where to go from here about gambling in virtual worlds as well (or maybe they'd just rather the speculation were confined to buying real estate ;-) ).
Just wanted to let everyone know that the good folks behind Joystick101 have recently relaunched the site, with some new faces and lots of great commentary. Nice to see one of the core sources from our rolodex back in form.
Michelle Hinn a PhD student at Illinois alerts us to a program running on NPR about gamers with disabilities. She'll be interviewed, among others. It airs on the Weekend Edition Sunday and if you are in the US, it should be on during the second hour of their 8-10/11am show (most of the NPR stations follow this in their own time zone). It'll be archived here.
It's been an exciting week in Second Life! Dell opened a new store in-world, IBM's CEO, Sam Palmisano, made an in-world appearance, and so did the dreaded CopyBot. The presence of companies like IBM, Dell, Reuters and many others in Second Life shows that there is growing interest in using virtual worlds for more than killing orcs and avatar-based flirting. Sure, these companies are just beginning to experiment with business applications of virtual worlds, or "v-business," but things are moving fast. It seems like every week there is an announcement that another new company or institution is trying to go virtual by buying an island in Second Life.
But also this week, the now infamous CopyBot reared its ugly head in Second Life. Here's a brief recap: CopyBot is a tool that enables the unauthorized copying of virtual objects by a player (see Raph for more detail). Since virtual objects in Second Life are created by other players, rather than by Linden Lab, there was an outcry from many players to stop the use of CopyBot. Players protested and closed their in-world stores in fear that their creations would be stolen, resulting in the loss of real U.S. dollars.
The online journal First Monday has just published their 7th special issue, Command Lines: The Emergence of Governance in Global Cyberspace, wherein you will find a number of articles by current and former Terra Novans, including Ted, Richard, T L Taylor, and me. (NB: the articles are appearing in three sets over three months; the complete list of them is at the link.)
The special issue (edited by Sandra Braman and me) grew out of the Command Lines conference at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (sponsored by its Center for International Education), where we brought together a number of people interested in governance online. In many ways I saw it as a chance for scholars of virtual worlds to contribute their unique perspective to a broader conversation, and the conference was a tremendous success. Anyone interested in how to make sense of the moving target that is governance in and beyond virtual worlds is encouraged to dive in.
Just a quick announcement of the launch of the Synthetic Worlds Initiative at Indiana University. The SWI will conduct research and foster community around the study of synthetic worlds. It will also build them (more on that soon). For more information, see swi.indiana.edu .
We were sitting around the GLS conference and someone - maybe it was Thomas Malaby - said Hey what about getting some more anthropologists on TN? And we said Great. And then we said Thomas what if it was a socio-cultural anthropologist like Lisa Galarneau? And he didn't say anything because he was lost in thought over the realization that anthropologists and virtual world scholars both study shards but have little to say to one another about them. Undaunted, we went to Lisa and asked her to join us. And she agreed! Lisa is indeed a socio-cultural anthropologist, writing a PhD about spontaneous learning communities in City of Heroes. We first heard of Lisa through her Social Study Games site, highly recommended. Welcome Lisa!
"Global Kids has been working since last December in the teen-only space of Teen Second Life. From what we understand, we are the first and (so far) only organization running public (and educational) events for the entire teen grid. We documented our experiences from the beginning, capturing the trials and tribulations of translating a youth development model into a virtual world, exploring the existential issues raised, and analyzing our work from a games and learning model (a la James Gee, Castronova, etc.). These monthly journals, the Holy Meatballs of Divine Spongiform, were only available through in-world books. But today we can announce that the past volumes, and future content, can now be seen on our blog. TerraNova has been an important community that has informed our practice and we look forward to any feedback it has to offer."
Walker Spaight (aka Mark Wallace) has just posted about an opening for Managing Editor of the Second Life Herald. A worthwhile opportunity for those with an interest in virtual worlds who want to begin understanding the future of journalism in these spaces. Oh, and the pay is lousy. What more could you ask for?
Games for Change (G4C) has launched the early registration website for its 2006 conference on “Social Change and Digital Games.” The 3rd annual event will be co-hosted June 27th and 28th with the New School in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Registration fees will increase after May 26th. Full event details are available at: www.gamesforchange.org/conference/2006/index.htm
This event is the annual gathering for the exciting new movement using digital games to address the most pressing issues of our day. At the conference, expert practitioners -- academics, activists, non-profits -- will be called in to examine the impact of current games and preliminary work to build the field. Keynotes include Bob Kerrey, The New School President, and best-selling author Steven Johnson of "Everything Bad Is Good For You." A showcase of the latest social change games will be open to the media at the Games Expo. Panel topics include Games for Global Peace, Creating a PBS for Games, Academic Evaluation Efforts, Recent Funding Initiatives, Health and Environmental Awareness Campaigns, and Guerrilla Nonprofit Games.
Daniel Terdiman reports that Uru Live, the MMOG based on the Myst series, is to make a comeback. God, I so hope this is true. I barely ate for the
daysweeks that each one of the Myst games took me to complete. When I heard that Uru was being shuttered I was really heartbroken. I hope they get it together this time.
One suggestion to the designers: Myst + World Open PvP = $$$$