Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This Is A Bit Much

I just want to say that this bugs the bahjeeeeeebus outta me. This was posted on front page Yahoo so you may have already seen this.

Finding Terrorists in World of Warcraft

Yes, you read it right...
I actually had to stop and make sure it wasn't April First.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Trying to Catch Up

My apologies on the gap in posts. Between work, weather, and illness, the real world has been a bit fierce as of late. Things here will continue onward soon enough. In the meantime, I want to touch on a reply from a fellow blogger, hammerwielder in regards to the previous post on the "evils of internet addiction" and I think he puts things very succinctly.

"While having this in mind, I can tell that all of this is really a matter of changing paradigms. We need to face the fact that the Metaverse's facets are really planes of existence in which people express their personality.

This basically means they also have to face the dangers if a part of their personality out rules any other ..just like in RL. Which brings us down to the way we should handle these worlds: with prior education instead of what most of the media is doing: blowing on the doomsday-horn constantly with different variations of the virtual world's tune:)"

I cannot stress the importance of his second sentence enough. He has a Second Life blog which you can check out by clicking on his name above.

The Game Developer's Conference is taking place this week. Every year, it sneaks up on me and I find that I have not planned appropriately to go. This year is no different. I'm thinking of walking down to my bank this week and opening an account specific to going next year even if its only for a few days. I try not to look at the GDC page too much because I get grumpy at my own ability to plan a trip which is said because I make my mad American dollars by being an event coordinator. There's humor there, I just don't want to acknowledge it.

One summit in particular is the Worlds in Motion Summit which focuses on, you guessed it, virtual worlds. To gaze upon it from my snow covered world of the midwest makes me sad. Next year, oh yes, next year...

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Little Bit of Balance

When I first read the headline I thought to myself, "Oh no, not again." Although I understand the reality of internet addiction, I believe it's far too easy to make a black and white decision regarding virtual worlds and the "damage" they can do to people. The majority of the population do not understand the situation and when you do not strive to understand, fear is not far behind. What was that Yoda quote again?

Virtual Lives Wasted?

I was surprised to see the author taking a much more sane and supportive stance.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Training, Education, FUN!

Another article on what I feel are the two strongest areas, besides entertainment, for virtual worlds; education and training. I post these to show just how strong of a trend the whole idea is becoming not just across the country but the world.

Training in Virtual Worlds

What I like about this article is that it's balanced, pointing out some of the shortcoming and pitfalls as well.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Paradox Experiment : Issue 4 - On To King's Row

I kicked off the second installment of the Paradox Experiment in the City Hall basement office of Elite hanging out with Susan Davies. I wish I could thrill you with amazing stories of heroic RP coming from everywhere at once. Unfortunately, for this installment, that is not the case.

Not to spoil the fun but the RP available for Ren on a Saturday afternoon was, in short, pathetic. I decided that over the past few weeks, Ren has been naturalized into the subtleties of living in Paragon City. ELITE had trained him a bit and, at 4th level, he was ready to explore outwards a bit. This was supported by clicking on Susan Davies and finding out that she was introducing him to Vic Johansson, a cop in King's Row.

Ren Paradox ran upstairs and to the plaza underneath the Atlas statue. Though there was a large crowd of folks there, I had little to no lasting interaction with any of them. I sent Ren on the tram towards Kings Row. My goal was to see if he could find directions to the police station. Remember, although everything is pointed out to you through the game interface, I was playing that Ren had none of this information. All he had was a commlink that served as a sort of cell-phone GPS unit.

And, I don't think he really knew how to work it yet.

Once in King's Row the RP opportunity dropped considerably. Other players/characters seem to be on a "straight-line mentality." Meaning, their only concern was getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible without taking in anything along the way. I stood on the tram platform in King's Row for about five minutes trying to interact with another hero. Finally, a diminutive character named Vahleria who had stopped to talk to the Hero Corp contact at the tram, interacted a bit. At first, her player assumed I was a newbie and was not familiar with the game console. However, she did "grok" what I was doing within a minute or so and gave me very nice directions to the police station. She even warned me to keep an eye out for the Skulls in the area.

Thanking her and running down from the tram, I had Ren stop at the statue to Cyrus Oliver Thompson. The statue shows a slightly overweight man in normal street clothes sitting on a park bench. The inscription on the plaque reads, "Heroes may die, but Heroism Never Shall."

"Nice," thinks Ren, "But, who was this guy?" I tried several times to stop passing heroes to see if they might know who the history of the statue. Some flat out ignored me but a few did stop. No one knew who it was...
On my way to the police station, I made sure to watch out for Skulls and tried to take paths that a young man barely into his superhero life might take. For instance, I didn't blindly jump around and go in a straight line. I followed a few fences, carefully nagivated an alley, and then upon finding a safe street, moved down the sidewalk. A block away from the station I came across an interesting site. A group of mercenaries had taken up residence around a car parked in front of the Kings Row movie theatre. Ah-ha! Possible RP!

In Ren's eye, they could be villains. They should be approached cautiously. So, taking that approach, I moved Ren up to them. Asking a few non-greifing and obvious in-character questions got me nowhere. Overall, I was completely ignored and then, a moment later, they all ran off down the street together.

I ran Ren onward to the police station. From there, I assumed he would have been given the location of Vic Johansson. That was another run down several more blocks where I tried to interact with several other players out patrolling and fighting crime. Ren was given the same reaction as the mercenaries had given him. Once at Johansson, the final blow was dealt. Upon clicking on him to get my assignment, Johansson told Ren that he was not ready for any of the assignments. In OOC speak, Ren was too low of level at security level 4. "Davies must have made some mistake," Ren thinks to himself.

Feeling a bit bitter and running out of time, I ran Ren back to the tram where I had him sit on the railing next to the Hero Corp contact. While there I tried to post emotes as heroes ran up which described what Ren was doing. No takers. What I noted was that the general attitude of RP was completely ignored once away from hotspots like under the Atlas statue in favor of "getting things done" or "grinding up in level."

I've been guilty of this myself with other characters. What hit me was the comparison of how much fun I had taking my time with Ren at this level then having the straight line mentality of getting the next assignment, running the next op, and attaining the next level. It was also amazing to me, how striking it was that the hotspots seem to be the only place for RP. Once away from them, blinders seem to come up as players move off to accomplish their next thing.

Taking the thought a bit further, I had to acknowledge that art mimics life. How many times in the real world are people, myself included, simply running from one task to the other in their cars or on the sidewalk. If a stranger talks to you, how willing are you to help them or converse with them? Yet, we get in what I could call a "RP hotspot" like a bar or a mall and people become more willing to pull those blinders down. All very interesting...

In the meantime, I left Ren trying to figure out how to get his next assignment. Should he just start street patrolling to get ELITE's attention and bump his security rating? Or, should he try to team with some of the other heroes and see what happened?

Hopefully, the next installment will be a bit more thrilling. To that end, I am now taking ideas from you, the audience, as to how Ren should procede? Post your advice and I'll see where to take him from here!