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  ‘Independent Roleplay Magazine’ Open For Advertorial Business?  
Posted 2006-05-01 by Tony Walsh
How independent is a magazine when its editorial opinion is for sale? Today I received an apparently-legit email from the producers of IRM, the "Independent Roleplay Magazine," letting me know that they are "offering to each publisher and studio the opportunity of getting reviews of products and placing advertorials or press releases within IRM." Actively pursuing advertorial content seems like a great way to invalidate the editorial value of a magazine. If IRM goes the advertorial route, it would be best off dropping the "I" from its acronym.
  10 Steps to Games Journalism, the RAM Raider Way  
Posted 2006-04-24 by Tony Walsh
Saint RAM Raider of the Crushing Truth About Games Journalism, I salute you for your latest missive, cheekily entitled "How To Be A Games Journalist - In 10 Easy Steps." You've encapsulated several key reasons why, once I dropped off the mainstream games journalism wagon, I stayed off and may never crawl back on.

RAM Raider's step #4 is: "Expect shit pay." I think I was spoiled freelancing for Canada's ill-fated Shift Magazine several years ago. It paid what you'd expect from a "real" magazine, and maybe that's why it went out of business. I haven't been offered a comparable rate by a magazine since, and frankly, I just don't give a damn any more. Writing is now a labour of love for me, except when I'm getting paid to write for interactive entertainment projects. Same writer, different industry, quintuple the pay. What's wrong with mainstream journalism that many good writers can't get decently paid?

Continue reading: 10 Steps to Games Journalism, the RAM Raider Way
  BusinessWeek on ‘Second Life’  
Posted 2006-04-21 by Tony Walsh
BusinessWeek on ‘Second Life’
Anshe Chung hits the cover of BusinessWeek: Virtual and real worlds collide.
The virtual world of Second Life is featured on the cover of the latest issue of BusinessWeek Magazine. More specifically, Second Life's best-known land baron Anshe Chung dominates the cover of the magazine, much as she dominates the virtual real-estate market. "She's fictional, lives inside an online game, but earns thousands of actual dollars there," reads the cover-blurb. Anshe Chung might be the alias of a real person, but there's nothing fictional about her successful business efforts in Second Life--she's opened up a studio in China to accomodate her booming operations.

In BusinessWeek's "My Virtual Life," writer Rob Hof gives us the expected intro to a story about virtual worlds (you know, the one where you think he's writing about the real world and then tells you it's all pixels and polygons), but then gives a good overview of the state of synthetic space. While little in the article surprised me, it's an excellent primer for those unfamiliar with Second Life. I did learn that in addition to Microsoft's interest, "A consortium of corporate training folks from Wal-Mart Stores (WMT ), American Express (AXP ), Intel (INTC ), and more than 200 other companies, organized by learning and technology think tank The MASIE Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., is experimenting inside Second Life with ways for companies to foster more collaborative learning methods." Seems like a great time to be a Second Life consultant--I expect The Electric Sheep Company will be facing a number competitors by the end of the year.

Much like Robbie Cooper's "Alter Ego" photos, BusinessWeek provides us with an avatar-to-typist comparison of businessperson Anshe Chung, game designer Kermitt Quirk, e-comster FlipperPA Peregrine, brand-consultant Fizik Baskerville, and Electric Sheep CEO Sibley Hathor.
  Comic Scenes Get New Round of Product Placement  
Posted 2006-04-18 by Tony Walsh
Comic Scenes Get New Round of Product Placement
Nike swoosh, via Marvel Comics.
Wall Street Journal contributor Brian Steinberg reports on the latest merging of comics and advertising in an article entitled "Look -- Up in the Sky! Product Placement!" According to Steinberg, Pontiac cars will be featured in an upcoming DC Comics miniseries, a Dodge car will be added to Marvel Comics environments over the next 4-8 months, and Nike's logo has swooshed onto the pages of Marvel's New X-Men series.

I've seen comic books cross over with advertising before, with Marvel characters of the 1970s hawking Hostess Cupcakes and Fruit Pies. These comic-strip ads were never mistaken for part of the comic book that housed them. In the 1980s, Marvel produced entire comic series based on toy lines--a number of publishers have produced movie and TV tie-ins over the years as well. This latest effort described by The Wall Street Journal doesn't seem all that different, just smarmier. Do Marvel and DC really need ad revenue this badly?
  Enticing Headline Leads Nowhere, Film at Eleven  
Posted 2006-04-13 by Tony Walsh
The April 2006 Computer Gaming World article "Sounds of Silence - Sanitizing Expression in Brave New Worlds" is, in fact, about a long-dead controversy over public discussion of player sexuality in the game World of Warcraft. It's fine that the author's entire universe of brave new worlds apparently consists of just one game. It's just stupid to suggest far more than this in the headline.

Here are some stories at Clickable Culture relating to sanitizing expression in places other than World of Warcraft:
  CMP Media Launches ‘Serious Games Source’  
Posted 2006-04-12 by Tony Walsh
The publisher of Game Developer Magazine,, and has added "Serious Games Source" to its stable. The portal site, currently in beta, is geared towards games created for training, health, government, military, educational and other non-entertainment purposes. While limited free access to the site is available, paid access ($14.95 USD monthly or $124.95 USD annually) gives subscribers "unlimited access to meet, share, and collaborate with others in the gaming community." Gee, and I thought you couldn't put a price on sharing. While Serious Games Source seems promising, methinks I won't be straying from Ian Bogost's top-notch news and views site covering the same sphere, Water Cooler Games.

[Disclosure: I am a paid contributor to]
  North American Podcast Adoption At 1%  
Posted 2006-04-07 by Tony Walsh
Forrester blogger Charlene Li summarizes some recently-released data on Podcast adoption in North America: "Our survey showed that only 1% of online households in North America regularly download and listen to podcasts. And when you include all of the people who are just interested or have used podcasts, they strongly favor listening to existing content like Internet radio or broadcast radio, not necessarily new content."

This is hardly encouraging for podcasters and those considering getting into podcasting, and while I think podcasting is overhyped, I am surprised the adoption rate is so low. I can only guess at the reasons for the low number:
1) Nobody knows what a "podcast" is, or thinks it's Apple-exclusive technology.
2) 99% of podcasts are crap.
3) Even if someone knew what a podcast was, and knew of a good podcast to listen to, usability/interface barriers are too high.
  Federated Media To Accept Linden Dollar Payments  
Posted 2006-03-31 by Tony Walsh
James Au reports that blog network Federated Media (of which his blog New World Notes is a member) has consented to accept "Linden Dollars," the currency of Linden Lab's virtual world Second Life, in payment for ads. Au posits that Federated "is the largest 'legit' enterprise in Second Life to accept Linden Dollars as a kind of micropayment..." Linden Dollars (L$) are exchangeable with US dollars, at a rate that is, at the time of this writing, just under L$300 per US dollar.

Last year, the maker of the massive online game EVE Online announced it would accept in-game currency as payment for advertisements in its real-world EVE magazine. Additionally, the magazine's real-world writers would be paid in the same virtual currency.
  ‘The Escapist’ Magazine To Open ‘Second Life’ Locale  
Posted 2006-02-28 by Tony Walsh
Lauded online game magazine The Escapist will be establishing a presence in the virtual world of Second Life, according to the folks at, who have already established a Second Life library featuring creative works by members of their community. The Escapist is published by Themis Group, Inc., an entertainment services company involved in integrated marketing efforts and monetizing online communities. At this time it's not known if the magazine's presence in Second Life is an official Themis Group project.

Make Magazine, published by O'Reilly Media, Inc., also has a presence in Second Life. The Escapist is the only other real-world commercial magazine I'm aware of with a pending presence in-world.
  The Play’s the Thing: Games, Gamers and Gaming Cultures  
Posted 2006-02-27 by Tony Walsh
The winter edition of Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture is now available online, bringing a range of viewpoints together in discussion of Games, Gamers and Gaming Cultures. Co-edited by Matthew Wolf-Meyer and Davin Heckman, the publication presents nineteen articles bundled into sections "Evolutions/Migrations," "Social Bodies," "Regimes of Spectatorship" and "Ethics, Ideology and Morality." There are some very, very promising-sounding articles in the table of contents that relate directly to subjects I'm covering in the Game Culture and Design course I'm teaching. I look forward to making use of article excerpts as course material. That being said, off I go to do some reading!
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