Monday, September 29, 2008

Experiment Proposal

So I'm taking a class on Digital Game Studies, we dont have a syllabus but we do have a cool prof and the ability to do whatever experiments we want.

So here's the idea as I submitted it:

"I propose we pool our resources and assign a portion of the class (those interested in addiction, gamer sociology/demographics or escapism) to play an MMORPG together. This needs to be refined, but here are the main steps:

1. Form a team in an online game (Warhammer Online/Age of Conan) made up of class members and potentially other Dartmouth gamers.
a. Develop and test team dynamics through interaction (as suggested by Linden)
b. Hold various experiments in-game:
i. Anti-WAR protests or demonstrations
ii. Player vs. player raids
iii. Provide support for MMO Addiction in-game
iv. Gain contacts and profile them
v. Add to the game narrative
vi. Suggest improvements to publisher…

c. Record what happens (voice, audio, statistics, screen capture, digital video) and edit into either a:
i. Report with a message for the gaming community at large.
ii. Entertaining narrative (machinima perhaps, as Thomas suggested)
iii. Documentary analyzing what happens to the team as they become more and more involved with the game. Health deteriorating? Social changes? Addiction?
iv. All three, hosted on a website.

2. Questions/Goals
a. Do massively multiplayer online role-playing games have a negative impact on the individual over the long run? Is moderation attainable? What happens when people live in two realities at once?
b. Possible End Goal --> Propose an alternative, non-addictive digital experience, or suggest modifications to the existing ones.
c. (Far-flung) Perhaps report our findings to the group that is creating a game, help them create a psychologically beneficial experience

- We would need a room, and hardware. I think both are attainable. I also think corporate sponsorship/support a possibility, and could provide us with much-needed information (statistics)
- I have Age of Conan accounts (5 or 6 around level 60) that we could use, but the game is slowing down and hard to run on most computers. That said, studying the death of a digital world would be interesting. We don’t necessarily have to limit ourselves to one game."

So yea, if this happens, things are going to get pretty interesting. STAY TUNED TRUE BELIEVERS!

Friday, September 26, 2008

500,000 People


500,000 people have signed up for Warhammer Online in its first week. This beats out Age of Conan's 400k, setting a new standard for the efficient distribution of spiritual opium(?).

This means that there are 500,000 people 1) equipped to run the game 2) willing to pay 50 bucks + the monthly fee 3) excited / enticed by either warhammer's ad campaign or someone playing the game. Well done Paul! (skip ahead to 5:00 if short on time)

It was the trailers that sold me:
Trailer 1 Trailer 2

I ordered my version from IGN's Direct2Drive, but i think they sent it to the wrong email address. Thing is, I'm better off without the game.

More interestingly, check out how they describe the war they have created. Dubbed the "Realm War," Warhammer online appears to value all in-game events as one large, historically valuable event/object. It's pretty impressive how hype for this virtual war has been cultivated. The game creators add value to in-game actions through the use of leaderboards, in-game chroniclers... Just click the box:

Anyway, I'd love to become a "watchful chronicler" for them. Sounds like the best job in the world.

Here's the main site if you're interested. These (This / this) are terribly shot in-game propaganda videos... I have to believe something cooler could be done with the Order vs. Chaos theme.

What E-gaming should/will be.

Competitive video gaming is growing rapidly, but rarely receives appropriate coverage.

By appropriate I mean...

1) The commentators are, well, lame. I watched the most recent ESL/MLG World of Warcraft 3v3 tournament online; the guys calling it were worse than McLovin. They need real commentators who can actually get the average viewer excited about what is happening.

(hey MLG, I have radio experience, LFG)

2) Better Camera Angles! There should be people in-game, ghosts, recording these matches with professional precision. Can you imagine a well-shot Battlefield 2142 battle or one where an unlimited number of spectators could ghost through the map at once? People could literally follow their favorite players.

It'll happen, but we don't have the technology (bandwidth) yet.

Here's where I say something meaningful:
Professional gaming is currently less popular than actual sports only because digital technology has yet to reach a certain point. This point, this change, ((singularity?)) will present digital games smooth enough to enjoyed by spectators, cheap enough for the general population to actually play or understand and complex enough to provide a few, talented professionals with opportunities to excel beyond those offered by the physical world. Pushing their minds beyond the limitations of their bodies, future e-gaming stars should attain broadly appreciable levels of skill, and due fame. Actually we touch on this in The Assemblage, but more on that later

So yeah, e-gaming is something to watch. If virtual reality becomes popular and affordable, I'd much rather watch darkfall-like castle warfare in 3D from my house than watch dudes throw a football miles away.

(That said, with the coming technological progress personal fitness will be of the utmost importance. Long-live corporeal sport!)


Watch this if you want to see the potential for e-gaming greatness
(58 seconds of it)

or Watch this if you want to see the whole match (3:00)

Sunday, September 21, 2008


/Link to video of the cover. I was going to buy a copy myself but they didnt distribute the e-ink version this far north. strange /
* *

Another hint at where popular art/media is going.

October 2008 and Esquire has published the first magazine with an lcd embedded in its cover. They call it "E-ink." I want to buy a few hundred, tuck them away in storage for awhile and ebay them as new media artifacts. I'm not going to, but it would work; this is pretty huge.

Look! --> The beginning of a new type of print media. Blinky lcd e-ink print media.

1) This must now be affordable.
2) It looks amazing, so it'll be imitated.

Funny thing is, I'm going to buy a copy now. I wouldn't have otherwise. Are there enough new media geeks out there for the move to be profitable? Yes, because we are all attracted to these sorts of media. It's unavoidable, the stuff looks like, well... magic.

Magic = $$$

Friday, September 19, 2008


The producer for Ironman/spiderman/x-men movie has optioned the rights to Mass Effect.

Cheers Hollywood, this could be the movie that changes everything. If you carefully translate the experience to film... it'll be mind-blowing. I say hire the guys from Square Enix who produced the CGI Spirits Within and just hand them the Mass Effect character models... the market is ready.

Maybe even incorporate some RPG style moments for the fans by focusing on important in-game decisions (Display the character options as subtitles, have option highlighted, clicked, and plot continues?). OR release a few different versions, one where Commander Shepard is from Earth, one where he is from a space colony... you'd just have to change a few lines here and there and you can have a cool gimmick to inspire multiple viewings.

This could be the first GOOD digital game crossover into popular film media, the plot is perfect.

Please don't frack this up.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dramatic MMO Legal Pad Scribblings: 2am

I find myself to be…

Unable to put my computer together.

(tower, monitor, power cord, monitor cable, monitor power cord, mouse, keyboard, mic…)

My syringes. My pipes. I can feel the machine pull at me. It wants me to go exploring. My mind wants to go exploring because I AM AFRAID TO STAY HERE / NOW.

Label this fear as boredom, ADD, curiosity, whatever. Playing is all I want to do. Are they really my friends if we'd rather converse through wires and pixels? Yes. We slaughter deamons. Something better than alchohol against which to do battle(?)

I want to duel on mountains and slay frost worms as a Bear Shaman, not sit and…and...what the hell else would I do?

All the pieces are here. More narcotic hardware than 99% of the world could afford: GTS 8800, 4 gigs of RAM 38 inch plasma, the works. It would practically assemble itself, five minutes tops. Instead, I hold a legal pad. I’m hiding from something. What?

Here in my room, next to a dog soon to be given away, I wonder why I left a friends’ house 20 minutes ago. We were relaxing, the three of us. But the conversation faltered. “Remember that time in City of Heroes?” We need MORE THAN REALITY CAN OFFER.

More than it offers.

It’s quiet in here. I turn on a fan because I can’t stand the silence. Mind wanders without it. Sleep? Family? Dog? Girlfriend? No: Porn and Videogames.

I assemble her lovingly, as if adjusting a sleeping bag before a long-awaited nap. Water cooled.

And then I can’t do it. I can’t go back in like I used to. It was so easy when I was young. Spend awhile on the internet instead, reading about the games I am now unable to play. Firefox, (the lobby between reality and hallucination) swallows early morning hours.

Eventually I tire myself out enough to sleep; there has to be a better way.

I decide that I need to moderate my relationship with the digital, because the technology will never moderate itself.

Perhaps the kids should learn to moderate. To hesitate before leaving this world compeltely.

They aren’t going to. They’re online right now. Smoking "spiritual opium."

Out-leveling me.

Conan Guild Page

send me content guys.
Known Issue

$100,000 Grant to Study WOW (+ thoughts)

Shacknews has reported that a professor at the University of California is going to receive a grant to study WOW game modifications in the US and China. ("Mods" are extra installations usually made by 3rd party developers to improve aesthetics or data retrieval).

basically, +1 For Digital Anthropology.

It's about time we took a closer look at digital events and gaming phenomena. I'm trying to figure out how to ask the right questions myself... if anyone has some decent ideas, let me know.

So far, I think that the most important affect has to be the emotional/spiritual/lifestyle changes gamers endure in return for their expanded horizons of personal experience. While gamers see and do things normal people could never imagine, they end up spending less time in the real world. According to another study out today (thanks Shacknews) Everquest 2 players:

"...reported more cases of depression and substance abuse than their compatriots. 'They may be drawn to use the game to help deal with emotional distress,' says team member Scott Caplan of the University of Delaware."

So what the hell is going on? We need to watch this more closely. I've played several MMO's religiously as you all know, and there is something there... something undefinable is happening to the human mind. A broadening? An addiction? I'll tell you when I figure it out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dream Job

"G4tv / is seeking a highly motivated individual to join the games editorial team...

The Director of Games Editorial will be responsible for establishing an editorial calendar as well as building and managing a team of editors and producers who will generate game reviews, previews, trailers, custom videos, recurring non-linear shows and screenshots. This hire will also be responsible for building and maintaining relationships with publishers and developers to ensure a constant stream of editorial opportunities for both the network and the website. The position requires accountability, productivity, excellent communication skills, a vast knowledge of gaming and gaming culture and the ability to manage a team of creative individuals..."



3+ years experience managing editorial team / senior editor experience
Minimum 5 years experience in videogame industry
Deep understanding of interactive publishing including timelines, development cycles and best practices / Deep Rolodex of existing gaming contacts" =

Whatever man, I've got time. By the time the Dr. graduates these jobs will be even bigger, shinier, and more in need of my outstanding people skills.

Right? Guys?

The Future of Renewable Energy

Is single-celled organisms.

It's not a new tactic really, the little guys spent a few million years figuring out how to harness solar power and now we have the ability to create them from genetic scratch. By taking the world's most simple genome and playing legos with it, researchers can now produce designer organisms. A few acres of phytoplankton making jet fuel from sunlight, and we're in business.

It's not science fiction man; it's here:

Not-so-new Industry Startup

Most interestingly, the guys pioneering the tech speaking at TED

Biomass into hydrocarbons (Ars)