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  Mixed-Reality Sweatshops  
 
 
Posted 2008-04-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Annie Ok sent word that Invisible Threads, a video she co-directed and shot in Second Life is available on the interwebs. The 8-minute film outlines "10 Simple Steps to your very own Virtual Sweatshop with Telematic Manufacturing."



The film is satirical in tone, but actually, worlds like Second Life which allow user-created content and real/virtual currency exchange are viable places for hiring out "sweatshop" labor, depending on what sort of work product you're looking for.

So-called "camping chairs," which pay Second Life users to linger in specific locations (known as "camping" in gamer parlance), pay a very low wage to workers in North America and Europe, but could actually provide a decent income in some countries. A few years ago, the New York Times reported that most Chinese gold farmers make under $0.25 USD per hour. The sweatshop featured in Invisible Threads pays in virtual currency equivalent to $0.90 USD hourly.
 
     
 
   
 
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  SXSW 2008 Notes:  Jane McGonigal’s Keynote  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Rough notes liveblogged from Jane McGonigal's keynote presentation at SXSW...

The Lost Ring has been in pay for a week, there are already over 100 screen grabs from the game trailer posted to flickr.

We need more alternate realities... the real world needs to be redesigned as a game...

Slide: "A game designer's perspective on the future of happiness"

Research around the subject of happiness... the science of happiness... we've started to see a backlash after a period of happiness study... one area of study looks specifically at what makes us happy and function well... it's been all over the popular press...

There's an amazing parallel between what makes us happy and the core tenets of game design...


Continue reading: SXSW 2008 Notes:  Jane McGonigal’s Keynote
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  SXSWi Reminder: ‘What Can the Video Games Industry Learn From ARGs?’  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-10 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
As previously threatened, I'll be kicking off a conversation today at SXSW about how the video games industry might pick up a few useful tips from Alternate Reality Games. The conversation takes place between 3:30pm and 4:30pm in Ballroom E. I'll be joined by Steve Peters of 42 Entertainment, probably Dan Hon of Six to Start, and whoever else wishes to drop in.

The idea for this so-called "Core Conversation" was pitched months ago, so I hope to freshen and expand the topic by identifying some areas in which video games have already adopted ideas and mechanics made popular by ARGs. Looking forward to the chat, hope you can make it.
 
     
 
   
 
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  SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Human and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
SXWi 2008 rough notes: "Human Rights and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds"

Susan Wu- If we don't address legal issues as publishers and developers, we will lose control [presumably through regulation]

Scenario: Your Tier 5 armor which took 6 months to acquire gets nerfed, do you have legal protection against devaluation?

Eric Bethke- No.

Boyd- Game world designers should have control over that decision [to nerf the armor, I think].

Scenario: You lose equipment following a server crash, do you have the right to have that property replaced?

Andrew Schneider- yes

Bethke- yes
Boyd- publishers can treat you however they want within the law. If I were running a game I would bend over backwards to give it back.

Schneider- This is all covered in EULAs, ToS, how rules are communicated to gamers

Continue reading: SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Human and Property Rights in Virtual Worlds
 
     
 
   
 
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  Games, Work, Play, And Collaboration:  Quick Links for 2008-02-04  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-04 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  ‘Second Skin’ Trailer Debuts Today  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Since 2006, I've been following the adventures of the team at Pure West--filmmakers researching and journaling MMO game culture for a documentary which would come to be called Second Skin. The team's blog gave a behind-the-scenes look at the trials of the documentarians and their evolving subject-matter, but I was fortunate enough to meet the filmmakers first-hand during one of their many journeys across the U.S., Canada, and overseas. These guys weren't just trying to cash in on the swelling interest in MMOs, or exploit players as objects of curiosity or ridicule--it was clear their mission was to seek out and reveal some compelling human stories at the intersection of real and virtual worlds.

The Second Skin trailer makes its debut today, and I'm not excited about it simply because of my brief on-camera appearance :) I feel like this will be a topical, socially-relevant documentary that will make a lasting mark. Something that may end up as course-material some day (certainly I'll be buying the DVD). The filmmakers clearly poured their blood and sweat into Second Skin, and at first glance, it really shows. Congratulations to the Pure West team and everyone (it seems like dozens) they interviewed. I think you have a hit on your hands.

 
     
 
   
 
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  DS Game Content Fueled By Wireless Hotspots  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Metro Wardive, a homebrew game for the Nintendo DS handheld console, reads the names of surrounding wireless hotspots and converts them into in-game enemies and levels. This allows the game content to change significantly based on the player's real-world location (I can only think of one mainstream game that does this).

Judging by the game's description, it seems that real-world travel is actually encouraged by design (at the very least, new game scenarios are revealed through travel)--with the right game mechanics, Metro Wardive could be used as an incentive for physical activity (walk or run from hotspot to hotspot) or urban exploration. The mind races, even if the feet do not.
 
     
 
   
 
  2 comments  
  Recommended Reading: ‘The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Second Life’  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Recommended Reading: ‘The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Second Life’
Last year, I started up a business in Second Life with only one plan in mind: put as little effort as possible into it. As a result, I sell a few virtual radioactive barrels, voodoo masks, and magic books for the equivalent of real-world pocket-change each month--if you don't factor in the six dollars in land-rental fees I pay out monthly. If an utterly half-assed Second Life entrepreneur like myself can offset his virtual-world expenses simply by shoveling a pile of shoddy goods into the insatiable maw of the fledgling metaverse, imagine what a well-informed businessperson could accomplish.

Technology writer and acquaintance Daniel Terdiman has authored an indispensable book for those wishing to plan, launch, and maintain their own Second Life business schemes. Entitled The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, it stands as a comprehensive examination of Second Life business basics, largely based on the input of selected residents of the virtual world. The Guide speaks in a language even Second Life newbies can understand, and offers practical solutions to common commerce challenges. Thankfully, Daniel hasn't penned a "get rich quick" manuscript, but rather offers a balanced look at what goes in to making real money from in-world entrepreneurship--in short, a hell of a lot of work.

It was only a year ago that a reported 3,000 SL residents were earning at least $20k USD annually in-world. Since then, Second Life's population has skyrocketed, so it's probable a lot more people are making decent money off the virtual world. Not me, though. I'm happy with my pocket-change, thanks.
 
     
 
   
 
  1 comments  
  ‘Habbo’ Heist Leads To Arrest  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Beeb reports that a 17 year-old Dutch teen stands accused of stealing 4,000 euros worth of Habbo Hotel virtual furniture, with 5 other teens allegedly moving the stolen virtual goods into their own Habbo rooms. I can't help but laugh at these witless kids, who would apparently rather steal furniture than give out virtual hand-jobs. Everyone knows furni-whores get theirs for free.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Limited Response To ‘Numb3rs’ ARG Episode?  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-13 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
An episode of the CBS TV show Numb3rs last week, which depicted a sort of Alternate Reality Game, has received fairly good reviews from a few key sources. Steve Peters (42 Entertainment) wrote that the episode was "great fun to watch," noting the game genre's mention in mainstream entertainment was a historic first. Raph Koster (Areae) grumbled that the game portrayed in the show looked more intriguing than real ones, but conceded that the show writers "got surprisingly more right than [...] wrong." The genre's top news source, ARGNet, reported that the show received "generally positive reactions" and pointed out that an actual (non-televised) ARG seems to have been launched in support of Numb3rs and the CBS suite of web sites.

Aside from a handful gaming insiders and TV sites, my impression (based on a cursory web search today) is that the Numb3rs ARG episode doesn't seem to have generated widespread discussion. Perhaps this will begin to change, given ARGNet's discovery that an ARG-like game in support of the show is unfolding. CBS has been creeping into cross-media territory lately, investing in metaverse developers The Electric Sheep Company last February, and producing a recent episode of CSI:NY crossing over into the virtual world Second Life. The success of that crossover seems tame at best--with the show's presence in Second Life trimmed down by a reported 93% barely a week after launch.
 
     
 
   
 
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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