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  Guy Parsons On Rock’n’Roll Storytelling  
Posted 2007-10-09 by Tony Walsh
Former Perplex City ops-team member Guy Parsons has posted a web version of a recent presentation entitled "Text, Drugs, and Rock'n'Roll," wherein he engagingly argues that stories can become more participatory by injecting rock'n'roll--loosely defined in the context of his presentation as "jumping off the author's stage and diving headlong into the crowd..." -- a crowd Parsons knows (as do others in the ARG, live-game, and participatory fiction space) from first-hand experience is capable of "waiting to catch you with open arms" and co-authoring the experience.

I'd like to see more rock'n'roll in more forms of media, but I don't think that sort of mashup is necessarily a superior form of culture. I'm a bit tired of futurists telling us how one-way media is "dead," but I think Parson's barking up the right tree in explaining why participatory culture is an attractive and satisfying option for engaging contemporary audiences.
  links for 2007-08-18  
Posted 2007-08-18 by Tony Walsh
  ‘The Lounge’ Is Dead:  Long Live ‘The Lounge’  
Posted 2007-08-14 by Tony Walsh
First, developers Evil Twin created the Pussy Cat Doll Lounge, a small adverworld geared towards promoting recording artists The Pussy Cat Dolls. Then, Evil Twin changed its name to Doppleganger. Then, Doppleganger changed the name of The Pussy Cat Doll Lounge to The Music Lounge. This weekend, Doppleganger switched its focus to vSide, a much more expansive and ambitious virtual world project which includes districts, social systems, and user-operated private spaces--vSide is large enough that it actually contains The Lounge in its NewVenezia district.

Here's hoping for fewer name-changes down the virtual road.

[Update: Virtual Worlds News reports that with the launch of vSide, Doppleganger has announced $11M in new funding and the addition of three new real-world brands to its roster of brand-placements.]
  links for 2007-08-12  
Posted 2007-08-12 by Tony Walsh
  ARG Netcast: The Buzz  
Posted 2007-07-26 by Tony Walsh
I'm a guest panelist on the latest ARG Netcast, entitled "The Buzz," joining ARGNet publisher Jonathan Waite, Unfiction owner Sean C. Stacey, and ARGNet writer Celina Beach in a chat about ARG-related buzz and viral marketing. Thanks for having me, folks, it was a fun conversation.

One particular angle of conversation covered the concept of Chaotic Fiction, which Sean C. Stacey wrote about last year and helps to provide a framework for discussing and designing ARG-style games by identifying the degrees of Authorship, Rules, and Coherence in a given work. I had forgotten about all this until the Netcast, so it was great to get a refresher on the subject.
  The ‘Roxanne Wars’ Of Gaming?  
Posted 2007-07-18 by Tony Walsh
American developer Kuma releases Assault on Iran. The Union of Students Islamic Association releases Rescue the Nuke Scientist in response Assault on Iran. According to Zach Whalen of Gameology, Kuma intends to respond to Rescue the Nuke Scientist. Ping, pong, ping. Pong?

I am immediately struck by parallels to music: one artist's song discusses (or just disses) another; an answer song results. Could an epic back and forth like the Roxanne Wars of the 1980s be echoed through the medium of video games today? Depends on how far this Kuma/Students Union thing goes, and if anyone else gets involved. It's certainly easy enough to bang off a game these days--almost as easy as spending a day in the recording studio. A hot-button topic like U.S.A. versus Iran might just be enough to start a game developer duel, although, like the Roxanne Wars, I'm not sure much meaningful conversation will be the result.

I'm not aware of any other call and response scenarios involving games, but I'd be happy to hear from readers on the subject. Could this be the first, or have there been precedents?
  ‘Music Lounge’ Users In ‘Vogue’ [Updated]  
Posted 2007-07-13 by Tony Walsh
‘Music Lounge’ Users In ‘Vogue’ [Updated]
Users of brand-friendly microworld The Music Lounge have started their own lifestyle magazines featuring in-world gossip, personalities and fashions. One of the first, dubbed The Lounge Issue, by user 'Softcoppertone,' seems to have made it to issue #2, but wasn't available online at the time of writing. The Lounge Issue's second issue contained an article on cybersex which caused a bit of controversy due to the teenage demographic of the Lounge. Meanwhile, all 24 pages of Lounge Vogue's first edition published by 'limy' are available online, featuring music, fashion, bootlegged real-world brands, and snapshots of Lounge culture.

I think the emergence of an in-world press (even lifestyle rather than hard journalism) marks the maturity of a virtual world. While the production values of these Lounge magazines are amateurish, it's obvious substantial effort went into Lounge Vogue, apparently the only such magazine covering the Lounge currently available online. Chatter on the Lounge message boards indicates other users hope to kickstart their own magazines. Personally I'm hoping for deeper cultural substance--it's a pity The Lounge Issue and its cybersex article are no longer available. [update: it's up now, and issue 2 contains some great inside scoops!]
  links for 2007-07-10  
Posted 2007-07-10 by Tony Walsh
  ‘High School Musical’: The Games  
Posted 2007-06-14 by Tony Walsh
High School Musical was originally a Disney Channel TV movie, but has since spun out in the form of a soundtrack album, an ice tour, a live concert tour, an upcoming sequel, a movie planned for theatrical release, and now... video games. Disney Interactive Studios will extend the High School Musical experience across Wii, PS2, and DS game consoles this summer. Sorry, parents: Your pre-teens are going to sing you into insanity.

The Wii and PS2 versions of the family-friendly game will involve karaoke antics involving characters from the property and about 30 songs. The DS version doesn't require singing (a pity, since the DS has a built-in mic), instead approaching High School Musical from a rhythm-game angle. DS gamers will be able to compete and trade videos with others via Nintendo WiFi. It would have been an added bonus to tie in DS and Wii game play, but I suppose that'd be asking for too much.

I suspect that even if interest in the sing-along, dance-along genres is waning, a High School Musical game will still have plenty of appeal to the tweenage set, particularly given the pending movie sequel and spinoff. Not sure 30 songs is going to provide much repeat play value, but I suppose the point is to sustain interest in the brand long enough to sell movie tickets.
  Buy Creds in Doppleganger’s ‘Music Lounge’  
Posted 2007-06-13 by Tony Walsh
Brand-friendly microworld The Music Lounge now offers in-world currency called "Creds" for sale at a rate of 10 Creds to one U.S. dollar. According to an official press release, the currency can be purchased via major credit cards or earned "by taking an in-world job such as promoting clubs or events or signing up friends to join." Creds will be used to buy branded virtual fashions from Kitson boutique and Rocawear designs.

The introduction of an in-world economy (and previously-announced user housing) brings The Lounge closer to direct competition with larger virtual worlds such as Second Life, There, and Kaneva. I wonder if Lounge-maker Doppleganger has anticipated the creative ways in which users may try to get their paws on virtual currency without spending real cash. Yes, I'm talking about escorts and furniture whores.
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