- Blizzard has created an account-based loyalty program that has encapsulated each and every one of its games;
- Blizzard is chock-full of smart individuals who understand community, as illustrated by the new community website; and
- Blizzard has made your account mean something into perpetuity.
Posts with tag virtual-worlds
I can't stop talking about virtual currency! As virtual worlds and economies penetrate every aspect of our lives, we are faced with the new and daunting challenge of identifying the seedy criminal element present in every human venture. There will always be someone breaking the rules, skimming off the top, or finding a way to steal their way up the ladder. Generally, as a society, we accept this as part of the process and make our rules accordingly to punish and dissuade against future criminals and all that jazz.
This week, we read about a very interesting virtual theft over Zynga poker chips, in which a 29-year-old British IT businessman named Ashley Mitchell pleaded (or pled, depending on your colloquial acceptance) guilty to stealing $12 million worth of the virtual currency. You know what Zynga is -- it is responsible for FarmVille, Mafia Wars, Zynga Texas HoldEm Poker, and about 8,000 other social networking entities. The company is ubiquitous. It also sells an ungodly amount of virtual currency online and offline for its games. Zynga poker chips, however, cannot be bought offline.
But when you make the split between virtual and real worlds (including your friends in both), the brain's center for imagination tends to light up whenever you consider the virtual world. You've got the normal parts of your brain working when thinking about yourself or others, but when you add in the virtual component, the imagination center lights up as well.
Unfortunately, the article doesn't go too deeply into their results (and it only talks about their findings from Everquest), but there is one nugget of conclusion: the economists saw inflation spike in one server over 50% in just five months. They say that the population rose on the server, which apparently made some items hard to find, thus raising prices. Economists say they've seen that same thing in the real world before: in developing nations, and in war zones. We can probably see similar effects right around a patch, or even just on weekends. As more people run to the AH to buy certain items, inscriptions or enchants, the price on those is going to rise. Interesting stuff -- it would be cool to hear what other similarities these guys have found between the virtual world and the real.
But only when used in moderation -- Longman also found that 10% of the sample he studied played considerably more World of Warcraft than normal, and that those players not only didn't experience a bigger benefit to their wellbeing, but actually experienced more "negative psychological symptoms." A good balance of virtual and real life can have a lot of benefits, but falling too much into virtual life can actually cause more problems psychologically, according to this researcher's work. Obviously, this is one study of many about how playing these games can affect how we think, but the results are definitely reflected in experience: in-game relationships, used in moderation, can definitely help you deal with the real world in a healthier way.
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!
- Thom calls up Blizzard, Linden Lab, etc...
- Thom says "Hey, I invented virtual worlds! Pay me money since you're making money off the concept."
- Blizzard and Linden Lab laugh and hang up, assuming it's a prank call.
- Thom goes to court.
How did Worlds.com wind up with the patent to the idea of a scalable virtual world with thousands of users? Kidrin has said that they invented the virtual worlds with a product for sick kids called Starbright World back in 1997. (Though apparently the concept was thought up back in 1995.)
However, let's take a look at the definition of Cyberspace. It was first used in William Gibson's 1982 story "Burning Chrome" and again used in a few of his books, with "Neuromancer" being the most popular. Gibson's definition for Cyberspace reads:
They had to deal with everything from conversation direction (they appointed one person to get whispers on any questions for speakers, though, as anyone who's ever been to a mass ingame event will tell you, you can't really keep people from yelling and screaming) to mobs in the Barrens. And it sounds like they did get something done -- besides the panels, which were only slightly frustrated by griefers, they took expeditions throughout the world, and did do a little thinking about how different meeting in RL and meeting in a virtual existence is.
Very good read. The end of the article has a link to a PDF book about the conference, but it's hidden behind Science's membership wall. Still, Bohannon writes clearly and fairly about the game, and it's fun to think of a bunch of scientists actually trying to navigate a virtual world while doing their own research.
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
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.
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.