Being a prisoner in China really seems like it would suck. Liu Dali, a (pseudonymous) former prisoner, was jailed for "illegally petitioning" the government about corruption, and sentenced to three years in a hard labor camp. During the day, according to The Guardian, he worked 12-hour shifts in a coal mine, and at night, he was forced to farm virtual gold online, which would be sold by the prison guards for a huge profit.
The real-life housing market might be in the dumps, but a Hollywood real estate mogul is making a killing in the virtual world. Jon Jacobs, aka "Neverdie" in the massively multiplayer Entropia Universe, just sold a virtual nightclub for the actual price of $635,000.
Proceeds from the sale will fund Jacobs' virtual planet-building ventures, which could in turn create actual revenue streams for Hollywood, the recording industry and traditional media sources. Really.
Bad news for professional orcs all across the Middle Kingdom. On Monday, the Chinese government announced a ban on the conversion of virtual money into real money for the purpose of buying actual goods and services. By allowing Chinese citizens to spend real money on virtual products, but not vice versa, the government has specifically targeted gold farming, an activity that employs hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers.
Will a focus on more specific uses like shopping and conferences save what has become one of the Internet's most disappointing technologies?
By Devanshu PatelPosted 05.19.2009 at 2:19 pm 5 Comments
What ever happened to the online virtual world revolution? You know, the one where everyone would spend hours every day blinging out their Second Life avatars and crashing weddings in World of Warcraft?
Well, those days never quite materialized. The media fanfare around virtual worlds has transitioned from an initial wildfire of exuberance to essentially nothing, as expectations for growth and revenue failed to pay off.
While health care professionals spent last week figuring out how to staunch the spread of swine flu, a team of Canadian scientists already knew how to handle the outbreak. In 2007, the researchers studied the spread and containment of a deadly virus in an area even more important than Mexico or Asia: the World of Warcraft.
Online gaming has a real-life environmental impact, whether through a computer's energy usage or the power-hungry server farms owned by game companies. But a media expert at the University of Stanford has suggested harnessing the allure of online multiplayer games such as World of Warcraft for the greener good.
Byron Reeves sketched a scenario where a player might get in-game feedback from a smart meter which records energy usage in the house. Turn off the lights, and the game takes note and rewards you accordingly.
In an era of high-definition, online interconnected systems like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, will PC gaming go the way of coin-operated arcades? According to market research firm The NPD Group, sales of PC games precipitously declined to $701 million in 2008, a 14 percent year-on-year drop. But is the sky really falling for desktop users? A deeper look suggests not, pointing to a hobby that’s instead evolving so rapidly it would make Darwin blush.
Massively multiplayer online role playing games may be massively more addictive than the games that came before
By John BrandonPosted 08.08.2008 at 1:19 pm 21 Comments
In a famous scene in the first Matrix movie, a character takes a bite out of a juicy steak. He knows it's not real, but enjoys it anyway. In some ways, a video game -- just moving pixels on the screen -- is a similar virtual reality experience. No, the aliens in Halo 3 are not real, but we pretend they are. That is how a game can pull you from a living-room couch into a foreign realm.
By Gregory MonePosted 08.21.2007 at 5:09 pm 1 Comment
They're already starting to turn to simulated universes to study economics and human behavior, and now scientists hope to use online worlds to predict the impact of plagues, too. Epidemiologists first identified the scientific value of these virtual worlds after an imaginary virus began to spread unchecked in the popular online game World of Warcraft.
In 2005, programmers released a contagious disease called "Corrupted Blood" into a new zone in the game. At first, the disease effected some players, while others shrugged it off. But then it began to spread, both through avatars - virtual versions of real world people - and their pets. The game's overlords, Blizzard Entertainment, actually had to shut down World of Warcraft and re-boot the system to get things running normally again.
Scientists who study these problems in the real world typically deal in mathematical simulations, but the World of Warcraft case presented an opportunity to study the behavioral side of plagues, too. If epidemiologists can get a better idea of how people might react in such situations, they may be able to build stronger models, which will in turn help them predict what would happen in the real world. A group of scientists is in talks with Blizzard to see how they can work together in the future.—Gregory Mone