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Posts with tag virtual-world

Predicting Battle.net's social future

If you think we've scratched the surface of Battle.net cross-game implementation with Real ID, you are going to be amazed at what is coming next. Do I know any of this for sure? No, of course not. I base my predictions on three simple facts:
  1. Blizzard has created an account-based loyalty program that has encapsulated each and every one of its games;
  2. Blizzard is chock-full of smart individuals who understand community, as illustrated by the new community website; and
  3. Blizzard has made your account mean something into perpetuity.
If you think Battle.net is sharp at 2.0, you can't even imagine 3.0.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Pronouncing character names correctly

Sylphine suffers from a problem that's very close to home for me: her character's name is often pronounced incorrectly by others in game. And while it's close not only because I routinely mangle names on the podcast (both accidentally and sometimes, I'll admit, for comedic purposes), but my own name is of questionable pronounciation. When I was creating my very first character ingame, I was stumbling around for a creative name, and I ended up going with a variation of the word I saw on the "Random" button in front of me: Rande. Truth be told, I have no idea how to pronounce it -- I guess I prefer "Rand" over "Randey," only because the second sounds so close to "Randy," so usually I'll just go what whatever someone says in the game. But I can see Sylphine's issue: it's probably a pain to spend so much time on a name only to have it wrecked daily.

And of course, this epidemic isn't only connected to character names -- being that this is a virtual world where text is the usual form of communication, it's very common to see place names and NPC names mispronounced more often than not.

In the end, you just have to do what I do: try your best and hope you get it right. And from the other side of it, don't be too angry when people mess up your name. There are 12 million of us out there, and nobody's going to get everything right.

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

World of Warcraft's top five political contributions of 2008


With World of Warcraft having the combined worldwide population of a small country, and the combined US population of a small state, people have been finding various ways to infuse their politics into the game. This can only be seen as a natural occurrence – people will naturally want to bring their out of game ideals into the game to express themselves.

We've covered various politically and socially minded groups in the past here and there. And with the end of the political season we've seen an increase in the number of political expressions in WoW.

Let's take a look back at the top five politically and socially relevant WoW thing-a-ma-jigs on the net in 2008.

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

WoW inspires military training environments

It's probably fair to take bets on how many Beltway Insiders are aware of MMORPGs, or even WoW specifically. (At least one or two can be found in Azeroth, at least.) It's certainly clear, however, that Dr. Roger Smith, a senior game designer for the Army, has some passing familiarity on the idea.

According to Dr. Smith, an MMORPG environment would be a great always-on option to provide training to the troops. Specifically, he says "something like World of Warcraft, but focused on the military training customer." You can even check out his public PDF on work he's already done on this kind of training environment.

The always-on world would provide training scenarios even outside the usual tactical simulation. Your avatars could interact with cultural representations, learning the fine points of behavior while interacting in foreign environments. Want to get your team a dose of decision-making expertise? Set up the environment to run reactions based on criteria you devise. And we definitely know WoW can teach you about a fictional history, maybe Dr. Smith's could help the soldier with some real-world equivalents.

We've all heard about the government exploring virtual worlds before, but we don't often hear that exploration directly connected to WoW. But if 10 million people -- including soldiers -- love us some WoW, maybe there's something in the formula Dr. Smith can use.

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

Academic research on virtual worlds

It has been fascinating to see how the world and video games have changed in recent years. Video games have been a source of social and scientific research, some of which will be presented in an online conference next weekend. Some of the topics that will be covered in the three sessions include the economy, messages about the environment and future developments in the virtual world.

A young lady from Yeditepe University in asked for help in collecting data for her thesis on the WoW Europe forums. The researcher, Tugce Tosya seeks to find out learn more about presence in computer games, and has chosen World of Warcraft as her population of choice. You can find her brief questionnaire online. I found it took about five minutes to complete and checks out against possible keyloggers or spyware. Any questions you have about the survey can be directed to her academic supervisor or the Information Systems & Technologies department.

Good luck on your thesis Tugce, let me know if you need any help with analysis. We'd love to hear about other WoW-based projects.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Fan stuff, Virtual selves

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