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Posts with tag online-gaming

How gaming can make a better world

About ten days ago, an interesting video of a speech was aired on TED talk. For those of you who don't know what TED is, it is quite literally a meeting place of some of the world's greatest thinkers: economists, philosophers, doctors, environmentalists and so on. These are people who dedicate their lives to making the world a better place.

So imagine my surprise when I was notified of a talk from someone who said that gaming fit into that ideal?

Enter Jane McGonigal, game designer. She says that the video game-playing youth of today -- that's us, by the way -- have within us the power to save the world. I know, I know, sounds crazy, right? Well, put down that energy drink and listen in. Jane's mission is to "try to make it as easy to save the world in real life, as it is to save the world in online games." The basis of her theory lies in a few things: motivation, an investment of time and the need to be rewarded. Remember that time your guild downed Ragnoros? Or triumphantly came through to the end of ToC? Yogg-saron? How did you feel then?

That's right, you felt satisfied.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

NYT: GAPP and Ministry of Culture clashing over Chinese WoW regulation

The New York Times has brought its journalistic bear to the story earlier this week about China deciding not to approve WoW's release over there under new service provider Netease, and it seems what we thought was confusion between two agencies has turned into a war. On one side, you have the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), who earlier this week said that Netease (WoW's local provider of Blizzard's game in China) could not legally be collecting subscriptions on a game that GAPP hadn't yet approved. But on the other side is the Ministry of Culture, who did approve WoW's content when it was run by The9, and are now saying that GAPP "overstepped its authority" by thinking it could "penalize online gaming" at all.

Which means that the silly game of World of Warcraft has fallen smack dab in between two government agencies lobbying for power. In the past, says the NYT, GAPP has approved games pre-release, and the Ministry of Culture has overseen games once they've started running online. But WoW is a weird exception (it has been online for a few years already, and only went offline when Blizzard switched providers), and it looks like both agencies are grabbing for power and the sizable fees that come along with regulation. If they continue to clash, it'll be up to the State Council, China's cabinet, to determine who's in charge. And the NYT says if that happens, the Ministry of Culture has the edge, with lots of friends in the cabinet already.

Meanwhile, Netease hasn't taken the game offline yet, apparently -- they still haven't been given official notice to do so. There's no word on how long this will take to shake out, but even China's players are tired of the fighting; they just want to get back into Azeroth and play.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

Filed under: Realm Status, News items, Economy

Online gaming up in the US

Our economy may still be pretty much in the gutter, but one industry is still going strong. If you glanced at what site you were reading this on and guessed "online gaming," congrats! You win a gold star. Here you go: .

Anyway, according to this industry report featured on GameSpot, online gaming overall (including MMOs, in turn including WoW) was up 22% year-over-year in May 2009. 87.1 million people were estimated to game online in the USA, an impressive 28% of our estimated total population.

Of course, a huge chunk of this is browser-based games (think Bejeweled or Yahoo! Games). WoW is apparently the 21st most popular "online locale," clocking in at 2.2 million US visitors. Still, I'd say 21st isn't bad for a game with a subscription fee; 2.2 million players at $15 a month is $33 million a month (assuming the each have exactly one account). The next-closest MMO, according to this report, is RuneScape, at 202,000 players. Really? Aren't there other MMOs with more than that?

Anyway, online gaming, like online everything else, is on the rise. Single-player, localized games are starting to feel positively quaint, although I still think Chrono Trigger is the best computer RPG of all time.

Filed under: Ranking, News items

What to do when a player dies

This AP story is making its way around the community -- Jerald Spangleberg's daughter was faced with a growing problem when he passed a way: figuring out how to notify the guy's in-game friends. As online relationships grow more and more prevalent, relatives of those who pass away are often having trouble notifying some of the deceased closest friends. Even Blizzard can't help in this situation, apparently -- they have no policy or rules to deal with players who have died, and no way for relatives to log in to the game without the password to let guilds know what has happened.

You might suggest that these relationships aren't that big a deal, but when you think that guildies are encountered almost nightly, while real-life friends connect only when schedules allow (maybe once or twice a week), you can see why it might be important to let the ingame associates know what has happened. Unfortunately, all of the solutions so far are pretty morbid -- there are sites that will send email for you, or some players have left lists of contacts to reach when they move on.

The importance of online relationships is likely to increase in the future if the past few years are any indication. And given that the average player is getting older even as they're making more and stronger friends online, it might not be long until we've got a much better solution to deal with this problem.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Steelseries partnering with Best Buy, credits WoW for growth

We've heard before about World of Warcraft strutting up the PC gaming market before, but could this game also be holding up the PC game accessories market? Seems that way for Steelseries -- they're the makers of the WoW mouse that we've mentioned (the one that might not be quite kosher with Blizzard's Terms of Service, use with caution). They've just recently inked a deal with Best Buy to carry some of their products (including the WoW mouse), and World of Warcraft played so much of a part in the deal that CEO Bruce Hawver credited Blizzard's MMO with creating his "high-quality gamers": "The way I used to pick up the phone after school, now, kids log into World of Warcraft and chat... Online gaming might cost $14 to $18 a month – less than a single movie visit for two people."

It does follow -- if WoW is one of the only reasons left for people to spend money on PC games, it does seem that it would be one of the only reasons for them to spend money on gaming accessories. High-end mice and keyboards use to be the domain of the FPS player -- guys like Fata1ity pimped their own lines and all the mice bragged about their resolution and ease of use. But the PC market has changed, and MMOs are the game of the day now -- everything is about squeezing function into as many buttons as possible and reaching this 11 million player group roaming around Azeroth. If Steelseries and other accessory manufacturers want to sell their products, they've got to try and sell them to us.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Add-Ons, Hardware

FCC Comissioner: World of Warcraft causes college dropouts

Oh boy. Deborah Tate is an FCC Commissioner (and will be for another three years at least -- she was appointed for another five year term in 2007), and claimed in a speech about telecom policy and regulation last week that "one of the top reasons for college drop-outs in the U.S. is online gaming addiction -- such as World of Warcraft -- which is played by 11 million individuals worldwide."

Never mind that World of Warcraft, is a game, not an addiction, and never mind that most of those 11 million people play it and are completely healthy socially and financially, and never mind even that any evidence you'd find that World of Warcraft causes dropouts is anecdotal at best. Can you really blame a game for someone making the choice to leave college? We, as you might have guessed, think not.

And there's more: Tate's Wikipedia page says that not only has she spoken out strongly in favor of DRM, and not only has she taken talking points directly from Clear Channel in trying to work on the Sirus/XM merger (a government official speaking the words of a corporation, that's just what we need), but she has also blamed television for childhood obesity. Nice one. One more reason why we are thrilled to see that we may finally get some folks in the FCC who actually know what they're talking about when it comes to online gaming.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, News items

MMO Couples tells you how to find love online

MMO Couples is a new blog about "how people successfully combine online gaming and relationships," and it's a pretty interesting read, whether you're a fan of online gaming or romance in general. It's written by "Gabi," a woman who met her boyfriend in WoW (she tells the story on the site), and while there's not much to read through there yet, it does seem like it might be an interesting look at how couples find themselves in virtual worlds.

There are also some tips on how to find love in a virtual world, and I like how down-to-earth they are: communicate as much as possible, be realistic, have a backup plan. Online romances are often full of drama, and it seems pretty tough to get a good relationship out of having met in a place where the whole point is that you're pretending to be someone you're not.

But a site like this would help fix some of that -- providing a community and a forum for folks in online relationships would probably help everybody involved.

[Via Wonderland]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

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