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  ARGs Are Female-Friendly  
Posted 2005-11-30 by Tony Walsh
Andrea Phillips of Mind Candy Design (creators of the successful Alternate Reality Game (ARG) Perplex City) has stepped up to Gamasutra's Soapbox with her article "ARGs and How to Appeal to Female Gamers." Phillips explains what makes ARGs not only gender-neutral, but specifically appealing to female gamers: It boils down to a strong narrative with solid characters, supported by streamlined game mechanics and surrounded by a robust community. I'm not surprised that one of gaming's most cerebral genres seems to attract the most women players.

Phillips notes that the ARG genre is one of the few with a high number of female developers, adding "...if you make a game that women want to play, then women will want to develop, too. But the reverse isn't true; it's possible for a bunch of men to make a game with cross-gender appeal. There goes your easy out for not trying, gentlemen." It's worth mentioning that there are very few ARG development teams out there, so while the proportion of female developers might be high, the overall population of developers is quite low. I'd like to see how the gender ratio pans out if the genre ever becomes mainstream enough to support dozens of development houses.
  Joystiq’s Sincerest Form of Flattery [Corrected]  
Posted 2005-11-27 by Tony Walsh
I suppose most game writers would be happy to get linked by megalithic gamesblog "Joystiq." In my case, not so much. Joystiq's Vladimir Cole liked my recent story about EVE Online's virtual/real economic crossover so much that he summarized the entire article in a Joystiq post without naming me as the original author or Clickable Culture as the original news source. Update: Cole has since pointed out that he did include a "big fat link" back to Clickable Culture in the form of a picture of EVE's official magazine taking up about 50% of the page space. Additionally, readers can find a link humbly called "Read" at the very end of his post. The problem with these methods is that neither is explicit--neither names the source or its role. Furthermore, Cole hasn't given his readers a reason to visit the source, or added any new perspective to the news item.

In a way, I can't really blame Cole for his lazy reblogging. The owner of Joystiq--a blog network called Weblogs, Inc--pays writers for meeting a quota of posts. Who has time to properly attribute sources when quantity is more important than quality... or even, it seems, integrity. I suppose I should be flattered. Cole obviously wants to disuade readers from leaving Joystiq for better-written blogs.

Continue reading: Joystiq’s Sincerest Form of Flattery [Corrected]
  Telecommuting to Nowhere  
Posted 2005-11-02 by Tony Walsh
The Associated Press (through various outlets) is running a story entitled "Telecommuting to a brave new world: the rise of virtual jobs," wherein the author points out the quickly-becoming-tiresome fact that residents of virtual worlds and players of video games are making real money from creating and selling virtual goods and services. The author picks the obvious Second Life as his virtual world of choice, explaining how one resident makes a living wage from her fashion business, and that Second Life's officially recognized industry provides only 100 jobs (not specified as full or part time, nor whether these jobs provide a living wage). Then we move on to a Romanian gold farmer making money from World of Warcraft and Guild Wars. Blah, blah, blah.

I am hoping we move beyond all this soon. Yes, people in virtual worlds are making money from their virtual goods and services. What I want to see are virtual worlds and games where the products created and sold are good enough to entice consumers to buy real world equivalents. What I want to see are virtual worlds and games I can use as platforms to facilitate my real-world job. We aren't quite there yet, but I think the future of these environments as real telecommuting hubs is important to consider. I wonder how long it will take the mainstream media to catch up.
  In Conversation With Will Harvey, Part 1  
Posted 2005-09-08 by Tony Walsh
In Conversation With Will Harvey, Part 1
Venerable video game developer and There founder Will Harvey is now at the helm of IMVU, an avatar-based 3D chatspace. IMVU features customizable à la carte content sold not only by the company itself, but developed and marketed by IMVU users. Dressed in a lime baby-T and charcoal mini-skirt, Harvey met me at one of IMVU's many Buckstar coffee shops, where we chatted over steaming soy lattes about IMVU's place in the greater Metaverse.

Continue reading: In Conversation With Will Harvey, Part 1
  Aleks Krotoski’s Social Space-Exploration  
Posted 2005-07-06 by Tony Walsh
Aleks Krotoski’s Social Space-Exploration
A couple of years ago, Aleks Krotoski trekked across Scotland's West Highland Way, a 95-mile route from Glasgow to Fort William. "While I was there I met up with people who were also doing this ridiculous thing for their own unique reasons," she recalls. "Some were preparing to go up Kilimanjaro, some just liked to walk, some came to find themselves, some came to celebrate, and some came to escape."

Krotoski is no stranger to escapism. The American-born UK resident was so enamoured with the pixelated world of Super Mario that she nearly flunked high-school. Ironically, her fascination with games proved to be a winning strategy in the long term. Krotoski scored a Psychology degree from Oberlin College in Ohio, USA, barely survived a stint as co-host and "strat head" of Britain's Channel 4 video game show "Bits," and ended up studying MMOGs for her Master of Science Degree in Social Psychology (with Distinction, no less) from the University of Surrey in the UK. She currently blogs game culture at the Guardian Unlimited Gamesblog, but isn't finished with academia just yet.

Continue reading: Aleks Krotoski’s Social Space-Exploration
  Augmented Reality for the Masses  
Posted 2005-04-01 by Tony Walsh
British computer programmer and e-commerce retailer Paul Almond envisions a world in which "the entire surface of the planet is turned into a three-dimensional hybrid of reality and virtual reality." Almond proposes that an inexpensive, widely-accessible "Augmented Reality" network could allow average people to tweak not only their own real life experiences, but those of others.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a form of computer-mediated space realized by layering graphics over human vision, making it appear as though computer-generated objects and annotations exist in the real world. This artificial space can generally be interacted with through positioning sensors. Gear used for AR consists of wearable computing devices, and is substantially less bulky than the Virtual Reality hardware of the early 1990s. Today, a pair of modified glasses can be used to project images directly into the eye. Current applications for AR include military hardware, and computer-gaming, but Paul Almond has bigger ideas.

Continue reading: Augmented Reality for the Masses
  The MetaAdverse  
Posted 2005-02-11 by Tony Walsh
Where virtual-world residents can create their own wares and businesses, advertising is never far behind. Second Life is no stranger to user-created advertising and the controversy that comes with commercializing a shared digital environment. Ad fads have come and gone, but a new system is on the horizon, promising a publishing and advertising network modeled after the online banner ad industry.

Second Life resident Rathe Underthorn created his first billboard network about a year and a half ago. It received mixed reviews. "There are many historical Second Life forum threads dedicated to the debate of billboards in Second Life," Underthorn says, adding that he was the butt of a number of personal attacks, including negative ratings. "The protesters of my billboard network were passionate and united," he explains. "In the end I eventually took the network down one billboard at a time over a period of several months." While Underthorn considers his first experiment a success, he concedes that many see it as a failure. "I immediately began rethinking my design," Underthorn recalls. "How could I make it better? How could I introduce a real advertising system into Second Life that made sense, one that benefited advertisers, publishers, and consumers?" Foremost in his planning, says Underthorn, was a non-intrusive billboard system. "It couldn't be forced upon the community against its will."

Continue reading: The MetaAdverse
  Advergaming Goes Virtual  
Posted 2005-02-08 by Tony Walsh
Now that real-world advertisements are clawing their way into virtual spaces, it makes perfect sense that virtual-world businesses get into the banner-ad circuit too. Second Life resident Rathe Underthorn is bringing billboard advertisements to virtual reality, brokering deals between advertisers and publishers. Advertisers pay for scheduled deployment of ads to be distributed by a network of publishers, whose billboards display the ads to the digital denizens of Second Life. Like web-based banner ads, exposure is measurable, and prices are on a per-impression basis. It remains to be seen whether there is much interest in this new service, or, if there is interest, how residents will react to a possible upswing in virtual world marketing.

In slightly-related news, Linden Lab has begun to auction off ad slots on the Second Life web site to residents via Ebay. As with earlier Linden auctions, I wonder why Ebay, and why bother? I suppose the point of this experiment is to see what the market will bear before committing to some sort of in-world system.
  Mindjack - Banner Ads Invade Gamespace  
Posted 2004-09-01 by Tony Walsh
My latest Mindjack article, "Banner Ads Invade Gamespace" has been posted. It covers in brief the plans of companies like Massive Incorporated and Neilson--namely the pursuit of internet-style advertising in online games; the focus of the article is on the value of this type of advertising to the media that carries it and to the gamer that consumes it. Thanks to Liam for a great editing job.

Supplemental Reading
Clickable Culture- In-Game Ads Get Mainstreamed
Water Cooler Games- In-game advertising
  Puppets on a Rampage  
Posted 2004-07-02 by Tony Walsh
What are ugly, ten inches long and brought to life by rapid hand movement? Why, Puppet Terrors, of course. These twisted but collectible hand puppets have gruesome mugs, beady little eyes, and names like "Kid Rottentail." Self-taught puppet-master Jesse Wroblewski birthed the latex-and-cloth creations in his basement during 2002, and after successful online sales, took his Puppet Terrors from the underground onto store shelves in October 2003. His first puppet line includes the tongue-pierced "Bunky The Clown," inmate "Death Row Joe," the masked "Hack," and the anti-Santa "Klaus." Series two is in the works, and stars a rotten rabbit, a corpulent cross-dresser, and a fanged teddy bear.

Continue reading: Puppets on a Rampage
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... Hope it helps someone... Dino...
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in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

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