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Oct 31, 2006



I have nothing but applause for your efforts to bring non-Western voices into discussions about virtual worlds. They are absolutely wanted and I doubt there's anyone in the industry that's going to disagree with that.

I'm sorry to say that you've hit the nail on the head though. I was considering going to State of Play this year if it was going to be somewhere convenient (I'm in the Bay Area), but it didn't take me very long to reject the idea of flying to Singapore for a conference given the cost in time and money to do so.



You know what? I can't take the time to go, and I question the location, but the motivation is genuine and the goal is laudable. It may not be much, but Iron Realms will throw in $1000.

Step up people. If they're going bare bones, they can't need that much to be able to simply hold the conference as planned.



Yes we are ready for a global conversation.

We're not sure if we can all attend in person, either, but we'd like to accept Matt's challenge. Metaversatility will pledge $1,000 to support State of Play and its groundbreaking global outreach.

Will anyone else join us?

-Adrienne Haik (Adri Saarinen, SL) on behalf of Metaversatility, Inc: Adrienne Haik, Peter Haik (Peter Newell, SL), John Plevyak, Matt Daly, and Aaron Delwiche


I applaud Matt and Adrienne's donations, and Aaron's heartfelt dedication to this conference and the overall global perspective it represents. But my company cannot match Matt and Adrienne, I'm afraid. I am a strong believer in giving to worthy causes (charitable or otherwise) both personally and corporately, but not more than can be done prudently. For similar reasons I will not be attending this conference.

Along those lines, I have my questions about this conference and the assumptions that go into it. Ultimately for me this boils down to: what's the unique value that this conference represents? What will attendees understand better and do differently than if they had not attended? What important, actionable information will be gleaned that will not otherwise found here or on the many blogs independently run by the participants?

If the value here is primarily academic, increasing knowledge with no clear action or payback, then I would hope far-sighted academic institutions and well-heeled commercial companies would generously support it. If they can't or won't, then it may be that this conference is simply ahead of its time. If the value is intended to bear significantly on those developing virtual worlds today, then that value must be made abundantly clear in a way that exceeds the multiplicative cost hurdle of being held in Singapore -- for those in the US, who appear to remain the strong majority of likely attendees -- when compared to AGC, GDC, or the upcoming OGDC.

Despite all our beardy ruminations and grand visions expressed here, virtual worlds are in their infancy. The world outside our ivory towers has changed little because of their presence. The vast majority of social currency coming to VWs has come courtesy of Azeroth (Second Life's recent notoreity notwithstanding). And virtual worlds themselves have progressed little in substance in the past ten years at least: 99%+ of all VW users still spend their time bashing virtual monsters with virtual magic swords.

Further, there is still a deep divide between virtual worlds that work in Asia and those that work in the West; one that remains all but unbridged. With one or two exceptions, virtual worlds that are successful on one side of the Pacific die quickly on the other side. This alone slows the pace of change and reduces the global nature that we might wish for virtual worlds.

I feel like I'm raining on your parade, Aaron, and I'm sorry about that. I don't like to be unsupportive of anyone trying something difficult and risky like this. My thoughts here go to my reasoning, and perhaps that of others, about the state of virtual world research and development. This kind of reasoning may have led to the lack of resounding response you would have hoped to have seen.

Reality has a way of cutting through all the hype and fluffy words about virtual worlds, economies, taxation, identity representation, etc., and all the importance we give ourselves and our work here. Ultimately people attend to and pay for what they perceive to be valuable. If sufficient people do not see the value in a conference like this, that alone says something about our actual state of the art.


Of a surety, I will be "not getting" your point.

"Whether or not we choose to admit it, the American Century is over."

People have been saying that since the 1960's.


Maybe it's just me, but I can't help but be amused at the idea of having a workshop on virtual journalism in Singapore, which has been practicing virtual journalism since 1965.


Whether you see Asia as a potential market area, a new source of inspiration and perspective, or simply a new set of friends, there really is no substitute to being there in person, despite the technologies we have. You can't email someone you don't know.

Aaron and others, thank you for expending all this effort to help bridge the gap. I hope you manage to pull it off and I'll definitely be attending.


Are you asking for help? or complaining because a largely North American and European group will not fly to Singapore for the conference? Or maybe some of both?

I do think conferences like this are good, and they have a small relationship to what I do in game design, so when one is nearby I try to go.

But like Mike I am constrained by time and budget, and this conference is asking for a lot of both. So it ends up in the interesting to read about but not interesting enough to go to catagory. Good luck with it.


Being Australian-based has meant an inordinate amount of flight-time and money happily dedicated to attending a plethora of conferences in the US and Europe. Congratulations to Aaron on recognising the Asia Pacific region as pivotal in the future development (and population growth) of virtual worlds. Oh, and the flight ‘aint *that* bad folks… especially after a few bloody mary’s.


You may purport to be a "professor" of communications, but your actions bring that into question.

You bash America ("the American century is over") and belittle us ("are we ready to treat the world as equals"), and yet you ask us for money??? Wouldn't our imperialist funds taint your glorious revolution?

Yes, the world is growing closer together, and we need to work together, but your smarmy elitism and denigration of those who got us here in the first place have no role in this venture. You won't get a penny from me...


State of Play III was a very important experience for me and I recognized it as a vital crossroads among academics, practicing lawyers, game company executives, developers, and the general public who play games or think about them. I think it's the place to be in this virtual world circuit of ours.

I contemplated getting even a modest-priced ad or endorsement of $250 or something -- and I still might do that if certain concerns are addressed. But Klingsor has concentrated my mind wonderfully. The American Century isn't over just because somebody is having a spasm of political correctness. Raise money -- but don't raise it from Americans by trying to play this game of shaming them for some perceived selfishness. It's bullshit. Isn't the generous Matt Mihaly American?

If 2/3 of an audience at a game conference is American, maybe it's because Americans develop and play games more AND want to take in the meta-conversation about them, being an industrialized, wealthy country with more leisure time? And that's ok? If Asians are in fact at the cutting edge of game investment and populations playing (and maybe they are?) then...why aren't their universities sponsoring the state-of-play type conference?

It's not a crime to be out in front on this, nor does it take away from other countries less developed; only in that sort of zero-sum oppressive socialist sort of schematic could you conceive that one country's development always has to come at the expense of another's.

I can't go to Singapore simply because even as a citizen of this country with its waning century, I can't justify or afford the ticket.

Singapore isn't a country known for free expression; the virtuality of the journalism has already been pointed out here in this thread -- are we to hear justifications of Google's caving to China? Are we to be impressed upon with "Asian values"? I'm all for dialogue...but *paying* to be bashed, too? Why?

I think the organizers of this conference, had they wanted to accentuate the importance of Asia, could have been tapping into Asian powerhouses of funding or endorsement, i.e. Japan or South Korean or Taiwan. But that wouldn't have been politically-correct, eh? That wouldn't have served to make it all be about hands-across-the-sea instead of game sales.

It appears the choice of Singapore appears to be driven largely by one factor -- Beth Noveck having a visiting professorship at a university there -- and the ideological dressing wadded around that fact. Saying it's about "addressing the world as partners as equals" is simply unconvincing -- we all do that all the time in all kinds of ways in RL and in simulated life and it's inappropriate to hang that kind of accusation on the educated people of this list who spend a lot of time in international contacts and conversations.

Why don't you postpone the date and keep fund-raising among Asian game-gods, regular companies, and governments, and have the originally-scheduled conference within Second Life? On that island Beth bought and never logs into called "Democracy Island"?

While only 40 will be able to sit on it at once, with events staggered over a 3-day period, at least an approximation of the experience could be had.


Klingsor and Clem,

You misinterpreted my comment about the American Century. It was a reference to a statement by Henry Luce which placed the United States at the epicenter of the planet's economic and political system.

Many contemporary theorists, on all sides of the political spectrum, suggest that this is an outdated way of understanding the our current global and political condition. Thomas Friedman's book THE WORLD IS FLAT is one example of current thinking on this topic. If you find him to be too liberal for your liking, there are more conservative thinkers who discuss the same issues.

It is not America-bashing to point out that the world has changed and to suggest that we may have to start visiting other countries more frequently than we have in the past. =)



I think I'm going to be sick. Encountering this stuck up bullshit american, "we are the best and we make up 2/3 of participants so we are the most important, don't inconvenince us, we have nothing to learn from the rest of the world" attitude just makes me puke. OF COURSE amerikans make up 2/3 of the participants, the conferences are in amerika. You think any time you see someone from another part of the world at one of your conferences they should just be grateful you are holding it and invited them at all? NO. Actually it costs me a hell of a lot of money to get to any conference in the US. The reason you go to other countries to conferences is because you might learn something from the local or regional people from that area. You might have a conversation you wouldn't have with someone from your own culture. Someone who can't afford to go to your conferences. The sheer arrogance of saying you have nothing to learn from people in another part of the globe demonstrates the insular approach of way too many amerikans (with notable exceptions of course). As for the "we invented it line", tell that to Nintendo et al. LOL. As for the "nothing that works in the East works in the West line", well, no wonder, with attitudes like this. If you can't see the point in putting yourself out to have a new conversation and to understand there is way way more beyond your narrow vision, then that's the way it will stay. But be aware that the arrogance that says "we have more players in the US and that's where the main market is", will come a cropper real real soon. You think the Asian markets aren't already about to overtake the US ones? You think the internet is still a US dominated medium. Oh boy. Good luck with that. Get over yourselves. No wonder I never visit Terra Nova anymore, it's such insular crap.


Um, well, I'll be sick right back at you, Ruby.

Who said Americans were best? I think some of us here are merely saying we're not *worst* and we have absolute no need to grovel and rent our garments with some fake politically correct penance here. What did Americans do except mainly fund the last SOP III DUH.

The Asians may have well overtaken the market, the funding, the thinking of games. Great! Have a conversation about it! Let some of these Asian companies and corporations fund it, then.

Don't belittle us and tell us we're stupid wankers who have no foreign passports in the process. The organizers of this conference act as if no one else ever has a foreign conference and never finds funding for it. But...they do. And usually ahead of time, so that they don't stop in the middle to go out with their hat in hand.

We know about Henry Luce, duh. And was he wrong? And is it over? And would YOU know? Honestly, the narrow-mindedness that some people bring to these discussions, yet call themselves thinkers and academics. Academia is so hob-gobblined by the tiny minds of political correctness.

Yes, American remains a "house of power" as an African colleague just characterized it and that's not to many people's liking...but perhaps what they most dislike about it is that people from their own countries fled *their* oppressiveness to immigrate to or seek aslyum within U.S. borders. We always come back to that, don't we?

What I loathe about this "hyperpower" theory and this ranting and raving about the American epicenter is that the alternative is...what? Moscow? Paris? Hello? We've all grasped that there isn't an epicenter, but all some of you want to do is just locate it somewhere else, and that somewhere else -- out in the leftist panelsphere on college campuses -- isn't any more legitimate.


Aaron: You misinterpreted my comment about the American Century. It was a reference to a statement by Henry Luce which placed the United States at the epicenter of the planet's economic and political system.

Ah, I read it as "America is the epicenter of virtual worlds"... There you go, you'll never know what people mean until you get their explanation...


Interesting emm, ... dialog?

Some of the comments bring up some questions in my mind. For example if Asia is so important, and the conference is in Asia then why is there a problem getting sponsors and attendence?

Well maybe it is because Asians are not that important (though I don't believe that, I am just running through hypothoses.)

Or maybe it is because Asia is a large continent and though Singapore is in Asia the game developers are in Korea, Japan and China?

Maybe the Asian developer community is too busy making games and money, or does not buy into thhe idea of conferences?

Maybe the organizers have not put much effort into marketing the conference to people who are relatively closer to the geographic location?

It is worth pointing out that though Singapore is closer to Seoul than San Francisco or London it is still pretty far away. Is Singapore a place with a strong academic focus on games? Does the country have a significant number of game developers focused on this topic in particular.

I come from Boston. No one ever holds game conventions here. Why? because the customer base is not here. Serious Games holds thier summit in Washington DC because that is where the goverment customers are located, and its not far for academics based in New York or even Chicago.

GDC is in California because that is where a lot of game developers are.

Likewise the European shows and conferences are in countries with large game development industries like the UK or where there is academic focus on the topic like the Scandanavian countries.

None of this has anything to do with Americans, Australians, Danes or Koreans in particular. They just happen to be doing the work and if you want a lot of them to show up you need to make it convient for them.

The more I think about this, the more it seems like a marketing issue rather than national, philosophical, or a comment on the importance of the topic.


Scheduling the conference directly opposite CES was an unfortunate decision.


Many of us Americans are well-travelled, conducting business regularly across the globe. We are not insular at all (I can get by conducting conversations in French, Italian and Greek, and can read Latin and Arabic). We teleconference regularly, and go where business requires us to go. That is precisely the point the good Professor misses in his apologia.

If there is groundbreaking work occuring in Malaysia, and the Malaysians organize a conference to discuss future directions, if one wants to be part of those discussions one travels there. If economics or logistics argue for more virtual mechanics, then simply arrange it. Many of who have read Terra Nova for any length of time understand that it fulfills many of the same requirements rather efficiently.

Professor Delwiche misses the boat completely not just in his message, but in his understanding of the nature of progressive interaction. If innovation and progress are at the forefront in "Amerika", then sorry Ruby, just get over it. If Asian communities truly want to lead in the development of any discipline, and share it with the world, then they can organize a colloquium. To maintain that Americans have to assuage some sense of guilt by prostrating themselves is a rather poor method for encouraging participation.

Ironically, I actually agree with Comrade Ruby: if Asian communities (or any community) are so developed that they are about to surpass others in a given field, then they can organize the conferences, and more importantly, they don't need our money. Competition exists, especially in the venue of virtual worlds, for a very good reason - the best will emerge and prosper, no matter what part of the globe is responsible. Stop insulting the progress accomplished by Americans, Professor Delwiche, and start treating us as equals in this process as well.


Allen Varney forwarded the transcript of a thought-provoking speech delivered last month by Lawrence Sommers, former President of Harvard University. I encourage everyone to check out the entire transcript at http://www.asiasociety.org/speeches/06hk_summers.html.

Sommers notes:

"And so I would say to you that this phenomenon that you all are part of, that the whole world is part of, really does rank, in the last millennium, only with the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution in terms of its ultimate historical significance...

[W]hat is taking place in Asia is the most important thing that’s going to happen in any of our lifetimes. It’s the thing that’s happening in our lifetimes, in anybody’s lifetime, that’s creating more human betterment, more human emancipation, more opportunity than anything that’s ever happened. We all have an obligation to do what we can to assure that with all the change, there is a commitment to maintaining as much stability as we possibly can."

"Asia and the Emerging Global Financial System"
Professor Lawrence H. Summers
Former U.S. Secretary of Treasury
Former President, Harvard University
Asia Society Hong Kong Center Annual Dinner (September 19, 2006)


Really wish I could be there - I think it's a terrific idea - but will be on holiday (heh, in Thailand no less). Hope it goes great!


Sheesh, chill out people.

I agree that Singapore was a very bad place to hold this conference insofar as Singapore is hardly a hot spot for virtual worlds, and is not close to any hot spots for virtual worlds. I don't quite understand why this wasn't held in, say, Seoul, if it was to be in Asia.

I also agree that Aaron's initial post could have been worded somewhat better. I find it ironic to complain about how people in the "hinterlands" have to travel to get to conferences, but then to hold the conference in a major urban center with an international airport. If you REALLY want to be "fair" to people living in "hinterlands" and hold a conference somewhere that represents a location that is out of the way (what that's got to do with a conference on virtual worlds escapes me though), then actually hold it in the hinterlands, not in a world-class city. What's that? A small town in Bolivia or Tanzinia or North Dakota is too out-of-the way and time-consuming for people to travel to, and there's basically nobody working in the virtual world space there? Hmmmm........Sounds a lot like Singapore.

That said, so what? They made an ill-considered choice of venue. Everybody makes mistakes. The conference is still worthy and while, as Mike said, it's not likely to have a huge impact, few things regarding virtual worlds (in the West at least) that don't come from Blizzard, Jagex, or Sulake have much impact currently.

BUT, and this is a big but, it's a relatively nascent "industry" (insofar as most people seem convinced that virtual worlds actually started with Ultima Online, wrong-headed though such an impression may be), and it'd be a shame to see this conference die off because it lost momentum after having to be cancelled one year. [cheese on]The tiny seed may sprout into the mighty oak.[/cheese off]

Klingon guy wrote:

Stop insulting the progress accomplished by Americans, Professor Delwiche, and start treating us as equals in this process as well.

Now come on. I'm an American who has spent 16 years working on virtual worlds (10 of them professionally). I didn't feel slighted. State of Play 1, 2, and 3 were all in the US (and not, I might add, somewhere adjacent to the areas of the country where most virtual world work is being done).

"The 21st century will not be the Ivory Coast Century." Heaven forfend! I just slighted the Ivory Coast.

P.S. Still hoping other people will step up with some cash. If you let me down, I swear to god I'm going to double the amount of posts I make pointing out that X has already been done in text MUDs.


First Friday in SA was always great when I lived there. I also rather liked being within driving distance of Austin without having to live there. Surely, the city hasn't fallen so much since I've been gone...


Klingsor wrote:

if Asian communities (or any community) are so developed that they are about to surpass others in a given field, then they can organize the conferences, and more importantly, they don't need our money.

One way to look at this is that the hypothetical developed Asian community may be quite happy keeping the know-how for themselves. If you want to get in on the insights, especially using the English language, you have to organise the conference yourself. The present situation is not so simple, of course, but it's a useful exercise in modesty to also contemplate this scenario.

As for choice of location, Singapore is not that bad. It's a travel hub and there are some pretty cheap flights from Australia, Japan and Shanghai (don't know about Korea).

I agree that the organiser's rant was not the best marketing pitch, but some of you are reading way too much politics into it.


Why do experts in virtual worlds cling to the idea that you have to get on a plane to have a great conference with your peers?

Have the event online and put your money where your mouth is.


Because virtual worlds don't even come close to permitting the same level of natural-feeling interaction that the physical world does at this point. Frankly, the idea of a multi-day conference in a virtual world makes me start searching for the door, and we use one of our virtual worlds as our company's office.



Another "me, too" comment, I'm afraid.

The idea of promoting cross-cultural, international dialogue on this stuff is admirable, but Chomskyesque whack-America slogans are not the best way to market the idea.

Maybe the American Century really is over. What does that very debatable belief have to do with promoting more diversity of ideas in studying games? "At last someone is brave enough to admit that the hyperpuissance is doomed! Where can I pay my registration fee for SOP IV?!"

Me, I'm just waiting for the Martian Century. :-)



If you visit GSTAR Korea, Tokyo Game Show, and ChinaJoy, you will no doubt feel that they serve a primarily domestic agenda – besides a large domestic attendance, the majority of visitors would only be interested to engage in business within those markets.

Whilst the huge Asian game markets and development hotspots are in Shanghai, Seoul, and Tokyo, Singapore’s small city-state size does provide a more politically/geographically “neutral” venue to hold Asian events. The organizers of the World Cyber Games selected Singapore to be the Host City for 2005, and the successful Games Convention Leipzig, with a larger show floor than E3, will spin off Games Convention Asia in Singapore come next September.

Games companies seem to be taking notice as well – EA, Koei, Konami, Boonty (French), and 10Tacle (German) have recently opened up new studios, operations or headquarters in Singapore. Even Digipen is opening up a new campus in 2007, and a recent announcement was made by MIT on a Singapore Game Lab.

I applaud the organizers of SoP IV in taking a brave and bold step in making a bigger and more global conference (remember the tagline -- building the _global_ metaverse? :-). Aaron and team have assembled a fine list of speaking delegates including some from Korea, Shanghai, and Australia. And toward this end, I think Singapore can serve as a good venue for this.


A number of the comments posted here speak to the suitability of Singapore as a venue for SOP IV. If one agrees that it is timely to hold a SOP conference outside of the US, a simple logical reason to have it in Singapore is perhaps the commonality of language - English. If it were to be in China, Japan or Korea, it would not be as convenient for international participants.

But more to why Singapore. Online Gaming is expected to be an area of high potential for growth, and fits well into the Singapore's objective of being a hub to host and manage regional games. The interest in this sector started in 2001 from the government's e-Celebrations campaign to promote infocomm adoption and e-lifestyle, but has since grown to be a fast emerging sector, with the market for Asian gamers is expected to hit USD 15 billion by 2009. Surveys have also reflected other benefits to online gaming, including broadening a person’s knowledge on various subjects, including history, military strategy, economics and sports, stimulate creativity and help in developing the interests in computers and software skills.

Singapore has established the Games Exchange Alliance (GXA) to localise and deliver games to Asian gamers. With 25 members, the GXA provides a comprehensive spectrum of resources to take games from the development stage to full deployment, including 'last-mile' commercialisation to 13 countries in Asia. Some successes include the creation of a cross-platform MMORPG that is playable on both the computer and mobile phones in real time. GXA’s bundling of complementary games services among its members allows for an integrated value-chain approach, and greater economies of scale through the wider spectrum of services.

Singapore Government initiatives such as Games Bazaar (a scalable hosting platform for games companies, publishers and distributors to test and deploy games regionally), Games Market Access Programme (a suite of services of regional deployment, hosting and distribution, community building and marketing support, for a fixed monthly price), and GXA are efforts to attract more game publishers and developers to base themselves out of Singapore. Benefits to companies include shortening their time to market of the games.

Nothing brings home the message clearer than to go to Singapore and see things for yourself first hand. Maybe then some of the common misconceptions such as the lack of freedom of speech could be dispelled by people who have actually set foot in the country.


What is the government of Singapore's commitment to this particular conference in both dollar terms and logistics/organizational capacity?

As for concerns about freedom of expression, you don't have to go to a country to trust reliable sources who have sent investigators to monitor the situation:


I've always found the Singapore government to be quite wily about defending its practices by invoking all kinds of concepts designed to appeal to liberals internatinoally, like "the need for communitarian values versus individual licentiousness" or "the need to balance a multi-cultural environment" or "the need to provide increased prosperity for all to raise the level of education" etc etc.

as in this sort of analysis:


As someone who has been involved at the WSIS level, I can say that we could *hope* that we're ready for a global discussion, but we probably aren't.

I am noting that more and more people, like myself, are giving this broader consideration along the lines of culture, language and technology - and I know for a fact that Linden Lab is also thinking along these lines, though perhaps with a more commercial bend (which may well be part of the Virtual World reality).

But let's face facts Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 have only seen global internet penetration of 16.7%. So when you're talking about global discussion, I think we can agree that only a minority can speak of it with some experience. The Digital Divide is more than a buzzphrase.

I cover stuff like this regularly, it would be good to get discussion going along these lines. :-)


I did not think this post was about whether Singapore was more or less democratic than America -and at least the former count all their votes :)
I understood it to be:
-can game companies see the point in funding academic/industry discussion on virtual worlds
-can current State of Play sponsors see the value in continuing the sponsorship even if the location moves?
-can potential funding bodies/companies actually value these academic discussions?

Singapore is a great location because so many speak good English, highly IT literate people, it is a major airport, the game industry is ramping up, the govt has "promised" more translucency and is also pouring millions into digital media. Singapore is also an easy place to get around (and also visit other Asian countries, you can walk to Malaysia, or take a 45 minute ferry to Indonesian islands). And if the highly practical Singaporeans can be persuaded to see the commercial advantages of virtual worlds, then it is a goer.

Also, unlike a 20-30 hour flight for the 2 Australians, it is more like 7-8. And that is good enough for me :)
I hope that allows certain trollbots to reflect rather than quote expat blogs on a country they have never visited :)


This post became about democracy, when the organizers framed their "ask" in terms of first having to dump on Americans for ostensibly being uninterested in international conversations, in order to try to shame them into ponying up some money. And I would have to say it almost worked. I was in fact first disposed to offer some modest contribution as I'm all for international conversations. But other posters then made me think more clearly about the problem of banging on Americans to be international first, when others haven't. My question about the commitment of institutions within Singapore to sustain this conference remains open.

>and at least the former count all their votes :)

If they silence journalists before and during elections, you can count all the votes as accurately as you want, the fix will already be in.

Honestly, I'm not sure why the game of political correctness and the game of moral equivalency has to be played on the way to playing the game of having a game conference.

Hey, you can walk to Canada, too, champ : )

So...if Singapore is all those great things, and they do sound great, why don't Singapore kick in for this conference? It's hardly being a "trollbot" to ask these pertinent questions.


This is a fascinating conversation. Just to keep the record straight, I would like to note that our colleagues in Singapore have committed a significant amount of time and resources to State of Play IV: Building the Global Metaverse. The Nanyang Technological University is actively involved, as is the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA). In fact, the IDA has made a larger financial contribution to the conference than any other entity.


My point about silencing journalists is that it happens in many, many, Western countries.I guess the conference could have been in Australia but frankly, there are many game conferences here over the next year, it is much further for orgranisers and previous speakers, and many game companies here are owned or in partnership with large American companies. Not all, of course:)

Walking to Canada from USA, I don't have the geographical knowledge of a native North American, so excuse my ignorance, but I have the distinct feeling the distance is typically of far greater magnitude than walking Singapore-Malaysia. Singapore has a coastline 120 miles around [i]in total[/i], it is a maximum of 14 miles North to South and 26 miles wide.

Asking why Singapore is not a supporter is a fair question (although Aaron answered that it is a supporter), but insinuating personal motives are the primary factor ("a visiting professorship at a university there -- and the ideological dressing wadded around that fact") is not.
I can attest that the organisers have gone out of their way to get both American and non-American speakers. It is extremely challenging to host a multi-disciplinary conference and even more so, remotely, in a foreign country and continent.

What really interests me is this apparent developing divide between games and virtual worlds-perhaps not all game companies see direct useful results from having a conference on the latter?


This discussion inevitably *must* have a political side because the subject of "game play" is in fact charged politically and morally -- whether you look at the perennial "violence and abuse in games (and worlds)" issue or the even more fundamental question whether "playing" is an acceptable way to spend your time in the year 2006...

Do you have nothing more important to do than "palying games" -- computer games, engineering games, language games -- what about fighting for the rights of imprisoned journalist, or furthering fairness in world trade, esp. fairer terms for poor countries, or raising money for "one child, one internet access point" projects that would even help the spreading of virtual worlds -- so what is the attendee's moral justification to frame this conference as an event pertinent to the "digital divide"?

Has anybody of *you* tried to improve the life of people through your work? Or "happy well off consumers" as far as it goes?

Where are the ethics behind the rhetoric?


yup ms/mrs/mr ?, I cannot speak for others but my research is primarily on (non-violent) interaction using game engines for virtual heritage and cultural learning, and I have been in discussion with anthropologists to develop a toolkit interface allowing indigenous owners to develop and maintain their own interactive content. Have also been involved in a project ( ongoing) using virtual worlds for cross cultural language learning.


>In fact, the IDA has made a larger financial contribution to the conference than any other entity.

Good! Keep up the good work fundraising with those willing to commit the resources. It's too bad this news comes after pestering in pages and pages of comments; it might have been good to point out from the start what kind of level of commitment you already had -- half the support? 3/4 the support? With which entities already offering the greatest amount?

This is what you put originally:

>More surprising than the commitment on the part of these small-to-medium-sized entities has been the tepid response on the part of the rest of the community. Everyone is waiting for someone else to take responsibility for making this happen.

So as has already been outlined here, the entire subtext of your ask was like this: why aren't you backward Americans caring more about the international conversation and ponying up to pay for international conferences,since you are provincial and insular and need to be integrated to the rest of the world which is outstripping you?

Well, many people here can agree about that, althoug disagree about your methods to change things.

But...what's really going on? Are big game companies not stepping up? Is that it? Who isn't stepping up? Individuals who could spring for $500 or $1000 here and there?

Perhaps it's not reasonable to expect Blizzard to pay for an academic conference, but were they asked? And what does it mean that Linden Lab is only being "helpful" and pointing to potential sponsors, when in past years they made financial contributions?

I think sometimes these debates are just as much about "the national" conversation as "the international" conversation BTW.


Am I the only one that finds it amusing that yet another conference is taking place regarding the internet that is not actually using the technologies which are being discussed?

If anything, this demonstrates the serious disconnection between reality and 'virtual reality' - both are quite real in their own manner, and yet 'virtual' remains 'virtual' because people haven't figured out how to incorporate it properly.



As during previous iterations of the conference, State of Play IV will involve a substantial interactive component in virtual worlds such as There and Second Life. These events will happen before, during, and after the conference.

We will continue the tradition of distributing video recordings of conference sessions online, and we will also make it easy for participants to blog their thoughts throughout the conference.

See the archives on the conference site for an example of some of our past efforts to bridge the online and off-line worlds.



I'm impressed that Prokofy Neva's been able to troll these comments so effectively. Personally, I've found being in Singapore has provided me with a valuable new perspective on our work (which explores the impact new technologies can and do have on educational change), and I can second ErikC's comments on the commitment of the Singapore government to digital media and games in particular.

There's a huge level of interest among educators here in the potential of games and virtual worlds for education: the Ministry of Education is commissioning games for use in schools, and a number of schools are exploring Second Life for teaching, as well as developing their own games.

Full disclosure: I'm here as part of our partnership with the IDA. The reason we (and MIT, and UCLA, and many other institutions) are working in Singapore is precisely because of the opportunities and perspectives that exist here. It'd be a shame if a few negative voices dissuaded anyone from experiencing these first-hand.


I think this question of location is really confused unless you clarify what you think the SOP is for. Developers and academics have already weighed in on that count.

From a journalistic point of view, I have to say that Singapore is a disaster. It's hard enough to get editors to take a serious look at virtual worlds--beyond business and gee whiz stuff. Getting them to send a journo to Singapore is just laughable.

To my mind, part of the function of even academic conferences about VWs HAS to include an effort to explain your work to those beyond the ken of your particular niche.

That function goes by the wayside when you locate conferences in places where the bulk of the media machine will refuse to follow.

As much as Aaron et al. may accurately contend that the "American Century" is over; it's still very much a Western media century. The choice of Singapore seems to overlook that perhaps unfortunate fact.



I'm glad that there have been attempts, and I admit that I am pretty jaded. I get invited to conferences way too often to speak or to participate, but I just see money being tossed into jet engines to destroy the ozone layer so that... well, you know what I mean. Considering I'm in the Caribbean, and that I deal with ICT, culture and other things related to the digital divide, I wouldn't mind coming to such an event if it were next door (and the LAC region needs love too), but it's not. My only option for participation would be online; I'll keep track of this and see how it goes. I suppose I should have started of with, "Hi, hello, how are you?" :-) I apologize.

What I would really like to see is such an event engaging the community. Too often these events are placed on pedestals which further isolates them, thus being counterproductive.



The lively discussion in this thread has been fantastic. Thanks to everyone for chiming in with their thoughts and opinions.

Just wanted to assure people that State of Play IV: Building the Global Metaverse will *definitely* happen. We are postponing the conference until late Spring or early Summer, and we will also add an extra day to the event.

Postponing has turned out to be a very good thing, as it means that more people will be able to attend. It also allows us more time to secure necessary sponsorships. We we were already within striking distance of fully funding the conference, but we did not want to cut corners on an event of this importance.

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor -- or if you have suggestions for topics that you hope to see included in the program -- please feel free to contact me via email ([email protected]) or telephone (210.999.8153).

An official announcement about the postponed conference -- including the new dates -- will appear on TN shortly.

Warm regards,
Dr. Aaron Delwiche (Trinity University)
Chair, State of Play IV: Building the Global Metaverse



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