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Reader Comments (5)

Posted: Feb 19th 2008 9:25AM eriksagen said

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I can see that it's been successful for companies to tie together a virtual world with a tangible object, but it still makes me a bit uneasy. Case in point; Webkinz, as he describes above, is quite the phenomenon this year (it's the Beanie Babies of 90s), but I hadn't heard of it and I have two little ones.

We were gifted two of them - an elephant and a pig. My son, who just turned two, could care less about the virtual world for his elephant but my daughter loved it for about 10 minutes. She was able to adopt her pig, name her and then proceed to play some games with her pig avatar.

It left me uneasy because while some of this was free, there was some monetization scheming going on for "premium" features and really, for my 4-year-old she wasn't interested. I can imagine there's a market for this, but it's not something I'll ever fully understand or accept I suppose - not for kids.

Posted: Feb 19th 2008 9:28AM (Unverified) said

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Saying, "The internet has failed as a story-telling medium" is inaccurate. It is more appropriate to recognize that its worth as a story-telling medium did not immediately become apparent to everyone. But saying, "it can't be done" is less valuable than saying, "it hasn't been done yet."

When cinema was first gaining popularity a hundred years ago, the nay-sayers insisted that cinema would never be able to tell meaningful stories because it was used primarily for slap-stick trip-on-banana-peel gags. It needed its own grammar.

The same goes for the internet. Interactive fiction is nascent -- but those of us who are working in this field are pioneers. Until wallets unlock on the telling of second-person stories, we're forced to stay indie or pander to the "I want more explosions" crowd.

Ryan FitzGerald
Nihilonaut Productions

Posted: Feb 19th 2008 11:18AM Ayenn said

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There are some of us out here in non-game developing, sociological, and psychology oriented academia attempting to isolate and understand current methods of story telling used in virtual worlds as well as developing methods of more engaging and real story telling. Many people in the industry have a tendency to turn their noses up and non-quantifying research (meaning research that does not produce favoring numbers in involvement). True, there are only a handful of us but we are passionate about or work and we want to help.

The real trick is we need all or the development studios out there to let us in your door with out having to “server time” for 10 to 20 years and “earn our due” so you all will listen to us. Some of us are not exactly young and do not have the time to go through that process. The younger people who really know what they are talking about are not going for the entry level jobs because they feel the development industry does not want to listen to them so they become more deeply involved in the academy because that is the only job sector that will pay them for what they do and respect their work.

If you all want to really break out of the “more explosions” method of development you need to reconfigure your hiring practices and let us in at a place where we can immediately help. I can answer some of the currently unanswerable questions (questions that are largely unanswerable because you do not know that they need to be asked) about story telling, you only need to give me and others like me the chance. Begin making a place for academics who are trained to analyze rather than those who are trained to sit at a terminal and you will see what we can do for you.

For decades now we have faced the offhanded gesture from academia embodied in the statement “they are JUST games”. Like wise we have received the cold shoulder from the industry embodied in the phrase “they are JUST academics”... at least the academy is starting to listen but for that conversation to continue the development community MUST begin to listen also. The university system is mired in capitalistic functionality, “the University as a business”. It is like any other business that is enslaved in supply-and-demand. Demand for individuals like myself will valorize our work which can only then server to improve your product...

Posted: Feb 20th 2008 8:02AM (Unverified) said

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well techinicly, most virtual worlds are actually IN the internet, I guess he is actually talking about the web (one of the Ws in "www")

Posted: Feb 26th 2008 5:12AM (Unverified) said

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It drives me crazy when people get the Web mixed up with the Internet. It isn't hard to see why, though. The Web is one of the latest shiny pieces, and it's a bit that people actually *see*. The larger bulk of the Internet is largely opaque to them.

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