Go Virtual, Young Man
"From UO onward, MMOGs have been home to exactly the sort of behavior one might expect in the Wild West. To be sure, there may be more griefers in WoW than there were bandits in Dodge City, and just about everyone makes his way as a cold-blooded killer for hire (of mobs if not Apaches), but nevertheless, focusing on the negative elements of MMOGs is ultimately not the most productive way of understanding those communities."
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Short time ago I graduated from university as a computer engineer, and my thesis was based in MMORPGs, about how these virtual worlds can help and encourage the developement of social skills and abilities in gamers. As a gamer myself, I've never seen virtual worlds as something inherently bad or good, but a world just like the "real" one, where consequences, while they don't affect your real life (hopefully), they do have an impact in your virtual life and reputation.
Nowdays, I have the sensation that those virtual worlds satisfy a need of personal exploration, of disconnection of the burdens of the real life, or even just entertainment. And yes, a lot of gamers end up consuming a lot of time in those, but before blaming the companies for this, or the gamers themselves, people need to look around and see why the player chooses to be in a virtual life instead of the real one.
I liked the article a lot, it touches many of the conclusions I reached in my thesis work.
This is a brilliant article with in interesting analogy at its base.
Yeah, I agree with Sharp. I liked the frontiers analogy a lot and the more I think about it, the more it seems to apply to MMOs and the people playing them. Nice article fella.