Gaia’s new MMO is likely to become a major contender April 30, 2008Posted by jeremyliew in gaming, mmorpg, virtual worlds.
In February, Gaia announced that it would be using its current virtual world user base to launch a casual MMOG. Virtual World News has an interesting interview that gives more details about the Gaia MMOG:
Beyond the virtual world background for the casual mmo, Georgeson also highlights the fact that Gaia offers more variety in its gameplay than some other MMOGs. Locations will behave differently according to the number of people present, monsters will spawn in different ways, and a wider variety of scripts, he says, create a sensation of spontaneity.
Also, there’s golf.
“One of the other things I’m particularly proud of is that a lot of MMOs have the same experience where you go or no matter what you’ve done for how many people are in the area,” said Georgeson. “It’s a big treadmill of killing monsters and getting loot. We still have that, but we also have aboveground game like golf that people can play even if there’s a battle raging around them.”
Although the kids/teens based MMOG world is getting increasingly crowded, especially as the media companies like Disney and Nickelodean launch new games, I think Gaia’s new game will likely be a success. As Virtual Worlds News notes:
Gaia Online is described as a virtual world and a forum, which makes it seem more open-ended and unformed that it actually easy. There’s actually already a fairly extensive guild system, roleplaying community, and narrative built into the world, though. It’s just not always readily apparent.
Gaia has held many scripted special events in the past that brush right up to the edge of becoming an MMOG. They already have an avid user base that has created and customized avatars, an in-world economy, and a digital goods business model. They also have an expertise in creating fun gameplay. Adding in levels, skills, quests and powerful virtual items is a small step for them to take.
I’ll be watching their launch in the summer with great interest!
Tags: blogs, flickr, mp3, online video
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The NY Times magazine this weekend notes that Flickr has developed its own ideas about beauty in photos, very different from the art-school aesthetic.
People don’t upload to the Web words and images they had fashioned apart from the Web; they fashion their stuff specifically for online platforms and audiences.
Consider photography. As art-school photographers continue to shoot on film, embrace chiaroscuro and resist prettiness, a competing style of picture has been steadily refined online: the Flickr photograph. … amid the more than two billion images that currently circulate on the site, the most distinctive offerings, admired by the site’s members and talent scouts alike, are digital images that “pop” with the signature tulip colors of Canon digital cameras.
While pretty and even cute, these images are also often surreal and prurient, evoking the unsettling paintings of de Chirico and Balthus, in which individual parts are beautiful and formally rendered, but something is not quite right over all. Flickr’s creamy fantasy pictures, many of them “erotic” (rather than sexy) portraits that have been forcibly manipulated with digital tricks, stand in contrast to the rawer and grainier 35-millimeter photography that’s still canonized by august institutions like the International Center of Photography.
Blogs too have developed their own unique writing style, different from the writing of newspapers or magazines, and often influenced by the dictates of SEO best practices, headline focused RSS readers and the short attention span of web readers. Writing has become more like advertising copy, with no room for a surprise ending as the reader may never get to it. It becomes all about the attention catching lead.
Online video is another clear example of how the medium has changed best practices. As Comscore’s recent video data shows, short form videos such as those on Youtube and MySpace completely dominate the longer form videos from ABC.com, Viacom, Disney and the other TV networks.
Even music is starting to change – Rolling Stone recently noted that songs are now written to sound good in compressed MP3 format and on small speakers, rather than being optimized for absolute sound quality.
These changes are not for the better or for the worse, but they are further evidence that the web is not just a distribution channel for other forms of media, but a new medium in its own right, with its own best practices, use cases and aesthetics.
Good games for “bad” girls April 1, 2008Posted by jeremyliew in game design, game mechanics, games, games 2.0, gaming.
essentially an online competition in which each registered player is given a “Bimbo” all her own to take care of — sort of like those Tamagotchi pets, but, well, not. According to Miss Bimbo rules, the goal of the game is to make your Bimbo the ” the hottest of hot Bimbos,” which involves dating “that famous hottie,” becoming a “socialite and skyrocket[ing] to the top of fame and popularity,” and even resorting “to meds or plastic surgery”, because girls should “Stop at nothing to become the reigning bimbo!” According to CNN, “Breast implants sell at 11,500 bimbo dollars and net the buyer 2,000 bimbo attitudes, making her more popular on the site.”
Unsurprisingly, most commentators are horrified and worry that this online game is providing bad role models for young girls.
Emerging as a rpg for teens, the game sets a stage for girls where “stealing, sexual dalliances, drug use and gossiping pave the path to teenage empowerment”. In the game, the objective is to “lie, bitch and flirt your way to the top of the high school ladder”, and the developer, Champagne for the Ladies, is billing their new game as the young woman’s answer to Grand Theft Auto. In the game, the player is encouraged to “experiment with fashion, drugs, sexuality, cutting class and spreading rumors” in an effort to win.
Champagne for the Ladies states that in the game “teachers exist to be manipulated,” a “looming parent signals potential social death,” new clothes are “procured by stealing from the mall”, and “bribery is an exit strategy for sticky situations”.
Game Set Watch has a good overview of the gameplay.
One of the keys to the viral appeal of these games is the comparison to Grand Theft Auto. The appeal of these “game of new stimulation” (one of the four types of fun) is correlated with the “bad” fun of stomping on a sandcastle, as Bateman notes:
… one of the reasons the recent Grand Theft Auto games are so successful at tapping into this side of ilinx is that they are not wholly realistic… The tone of the games is realistic in a certain sense, and certainly they are drawing upon mimicry, but there is an unreal quality. This is expressed in part by the shrewd choice of a non-photorealistic art style, and also by the presence of ‘game-like’ elements in the game world, such as “power up” tokens. This is real, but it is also a game. That empowers the player to, for instance, go on a murderous killing rampage, and laugh as they do it. I do not believe there is anything morally wrong with this, and the unreal quality of the game facilitates this freedom to misbehave.
The joy of ilinx is reckless abandon… it can be the vertigo of speed, or of wanton destruction; it need not be violent, but it is always irrepressible – the temporary abolishment of conscious thought.
(I hope) people playing these games enjoy the satire and understand that these are fun and no more role models than Homer Simpson.
The vast majority of games that we see are of the first three types of fun: competition, chance and simulation. It will be interesting to see if we see more games of new stimulation which derive their fun from crazy behavior. It will also be interesting to see if these games can hold on to players over time as these new stimulations become less novel with increased gameplay.