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Apr 04, 2004

Comments

1.

I believe the original incarnation of the game was predicated on combat. Players went to real-world locations to collect items, which their avatar would use in combat against other avatars (who I believe were limited to other players in your physical area).

It was less popular than the scavenger hunt variation though. Perhaps the situation is comparable to western persistent-world-gaming's neverending PvP/PvE debates.

It'll get real amusing, when HUD-style imaging overlays allow players to 'see' in-game objects without looking down at their handset for game-world updates.

2.

Nate ---

MMOMG gaming is fascinating stuff and you've hit the nail on the head, I think, when you analogize the social dimensions to a form of lycanthropy. We're accustomed to the idea of a second social presence in the synthetic world of the monitor, but mobile MMOGs map VW identity onto RL spatial identity in very disconcerting ways. It's like an electronically-mediated LARP with no real spatial or temporal boundaries. Kind of reminds me of Jane McGonigal's work. Check out the splash page for It's Alive here. (Thanks to Will Saar from Richard's earlier post on MMOMGs...)

It also reminds me of a form of augmented reality as much as it does VW gaming -- or at least it makes me wonder how the two intersect. Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs has some pretty good material on European variants of this, but he spends a lot more time (imho) presenting the data & anecdotes than he does synthesizing it into theory. (But it still is a great book to read!)

I got to bother Eric Zimmerman a bit about mobile VWs at State of Play, but the conversation didn't really get far. If anyone else knows others who are working on the theoretical dimensions of this (and better yet, comparing it to VW theory) please post links.

3.

Combat-based location-sensitive cell phone games like ZoneMaster and BotFighters (from It's Alive) have been going in Scandinavia (where else?) for a couple years now. Of course, the population density in Tokyo and Kansai changes the critical mass equation significantly. Serial Experiments: Lain was an anime series from a few years back which dealt explicitly with the melding of virtual and real worlds. The hook was a cell-phone based combat game (there's always an anime precedent for TN subject material...).

The distribution of labor /web hub thing is new though, a sort of breakthrough for design. But at the individual level, this line is most striking to me: "All the trips I make in the city are now randomized, as I will often divert a few hundred meters to go and collect an object around me." How nice it would be to be led to new locations in your vicinity not by an advertising mechanism, but rather a sort of intentional exploratory roulette! Of course, I know it will take all of 2 seconds for advertisers to pay to have certain objects only available within 50 feet of their business...

Be very afraid when the SCA/Ampguard people get their hands on this :)

4.

Euphrosyne>Of course, I know it will take all of 2 seconds for advertisers to pay to have certain objects only available within 50 feet of their business...

"That's where the money's at" and can you say "Benjamins!"

Add mobile photography and FunHi">http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2004/03/funhi.html#comments">FunHi to Mogi and you get thing even more interesting. Combine Pokemon collectible card/item game and you'll get even more "Benjamins!"

Euphrosyne>"Be very afraid when the SCA/Ampguard people get their hands on this :)"

I was actually thinking about LARPs based on modern era: Vampires, Werewolf, White Wolf stuff, or Cyberpunk.

For kids, they can be "secret" Power Rangers fighting virtual evil on their way to the school.

Frank

5.

Recent Henry Jenkins thing that seems relevant (zombies, not werewolves, tho):

"You've seen them. Maybe you're one of them. They're the zombies of the New Media Era: the unthinking, the unseeing, the undead. They are all around us."

http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/wo_jenkins040204.asp

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