A multiplayer game environment is a dream come true for an economist. Because here you have an economy where you don’t need statistics. And elaborate statistics is what you use when you don’t know everything, you’re not omniscient, and you need to use something in order to gain feeling as to what is happening to prices, what is happening to quantities, what’s happening to investments, and so on and so forth. But in a video game world, all the data are there. It’s like being God, who has access to everything and to what every member of the social economy is doing.
Yanis Varoufakis, talking to Peter Suderman, “A Multiplayer Game Environment Is Actually a Dream Come True for an Economist”, Reason, 2014-05-30.
January 31, 2015
January 24, 2015
I just finished watching the ArenaNet livestream from PAX South, where they introduced the first expansion for Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns.
Lots of unanswered questions, a few of which are answered in the new FAQ.
Dulfy has the livestream notes if you want to read about what was revealed.
January 13, 2015
NCSoft, the Korean company that owns ArenaNet has registered a trademark for a Guild Wars 2 expansion called Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns. Here’s the Reddit thread.
December 31, 2014
At Massively, Andrew Ross talks to the lead author on a recent paper that — unlike the pop-psych headlines in the newspapers — shows a much more positive side to gamers and online gaming:
Every time we talk about scientific research on Massively, readers argue that results from game studies should be “obvious” and are a waste of time/money or that everyone knows MMOs are filled with anti-social trolls. Kowert told me that game studies are “not unique in these criticisms,” though “they may seem stronger within this field due to the perceived frivolity of games and gaming as a field of study”:
Even though gaming continues to grow in importance and popularity within society, there is still so much that remains unknown about how and why people are using this medium and what are its potential uses and effects (both positive and negative). For example, it has long been assumed that online game players are all reclusive, overweight, lonely, teenage males. This is reflected in the cultural stereotype of the group as seen in the news media and popular culture (Make Love, Not Warcraft, anyone?).
In her paper Reconsidering the Stereotype of Online Gamers, Kowert and her colleagues examined the validity of these stereotypes. As we discussed yesterday, the results proved that the opinions people hold about gamers don’t quite match the media’s stereotypes, even among non-gamers. Without research, we wouldn’t have this information, and for me as a gamer, it’s encouraging to know that times are changing. Plus, it gives you ammo when Uncle Frank tries to put down your hobby this holiday season.
During my examination of the research into online games and real world friendships among emotionally sensitive users, I realized I could see myself in the findings. As a child, I was very shy; part of the problem was that I didn’t know how to react to people’s emotions. One article about social gaming and lonely lives argued that people who game a lot can sometimes have trouble connecting with non-gamers. Many “enthusiastic hobbyists” also have this issue, whether their hobby is sports or soap operas or games.
Kowert says this is correct to an extent; we’ve all met the hardcore sports fans who spouts sports jargon. “There is some uniqueness in the social profile of individuals who choose to exclusively engage in hobbyist activities that are mediated by technology, such as online games,” Kowert told me. “For instance, you state that you were shy as a child and preferred standing in the background rather than diving right into new social situations. Knowing this about yourself, you may have been more apprehensive to join, let’s say, a sports club or a board game group, than popping in on an online forum discussing sports or joining online gaming club.”
In other words, it’s not that all people who play online games are shy or are using the internet to overcome some of their social problems, but for those who suffer from those problems, online gaming could be a good way for them to meet others. Being online allows people to share a social space without the fears and consequences associated with face-to-face socialization. For example, I rarely went to parties in high school, but I did run events in the online games I played, especially in older MMOs. In more raid-oriented MMOs, people constantly told me I was doing something “different,” something unique or strange, and that made me stand out as also being different. In short, I was using the game world in a different way than other more mainstream gamers did, which echoes Kowert’s research about emotionally sensitive players using game spaces in unique ways. She explains:
Previous research has largely focused on the relationship between MMORPG play and social outcomes, as MMORPGs are believed to have a unique ability to promote sociability between users (see Mark Chen’s 2009 book Leet Noobs for a more in-depth discussion of the social environment of MMOs). As cooperation between users is often crucial to game play, the social environment of MMORPGs differs from other genres, such as multi-player first-person shooter games where gameplay is more about competition than cooperation and the social environment is more often characterized by competitiveness, trash-talking, and gloating (for more on this research see Zubek & Khoo, 2002 [PDF]). These differences in social environments are likely to differentially impact the social utility of the space as well as the social relationships that may come from it.
December 22, 2014
• The psychosocial causes and consequences of online video game play were evaluated.
• Over a 1- and 2-year period, evidence for social compensation processes were found.
• Among young adults, online games appear to be socially compensating spaces.
• No significant displacement or compensation patterns were found for adolescents.
• No significant displacement or compensation patterns were found for older adults.
Due to its worldwide popularity, researchers have grown concerned as to whether or not engagement within online video gaming environments poses a threat to public health. Previous research has uncovered inverse relationships between frequency of play and a range of psychosocial outcomes, however, a reliance on cross-sectional research designs and opportunity sampling of only the most involved players has limited the broader understanding of these relationships. Enlisting a large representative sample and a longitudinal design, the current study examined these relationships and the mechanisms that underlie them to determine if poorer psychosocial outcomes are a cause (i.e., pre-existing psychosocial difficulties motivate play) or a consequence (i.e., poorer outcomes are driven by use) of online video game engagement. The results dispute previous claims that online game play has negative effects on the psychosocial well-being of its users and instead indicate that individuals play online games to compensate for pre-existing social difficulties.
October 3, 2014
My final Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. After 250 posts at GuildMag, I’m not burned out, but my new job (and the daily commute) won’t allow me enough free time to do the column justice, so I’m trying to go out gracefully. Aside from my “farewell address”, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
September 19, 2014
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The community’s reactions to the September Feature Pack that was released last week finally seems to be settling down: at least the ratio of complaints to compliments moved in the general direction of balance. The Fall World versus World tournament also began last week and runs for another three weeks (much shorter than previous tournaments). In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
September 12, 2014
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This week features a lot of reactions to the September Feature Pack that was released earlier this week. Typically, the “sky is falling” brigade led the charge, and the “hey this isn’t as bad as we thought” corps reported for duty sometime yesterday. Later today, we’ll see the start of the next World versus World tournament, which will run for the next four weeks. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
September 5, 2014
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This week ArenaNet has been adding more information about what will be coming in the September Feature Pack to be released next week. The Feature Pack will revamp existing systems and introduce new quality-of-life items, but it doesn’t have any new playable content. A few days after the Feature Pack is released, we’ll see the start of the next World versus World tournament. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
August 29, 2014
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This week is the second anniversary of the GW2 release, and ArenaNet has been spending a lot of time publicizing what will be coming in the September Feature Pack. The Feature Pack is intended to revamp existing systems and introduce new quality-of-life items, but it doesn’t have any new playable content. A few days after the Feature Pack is released, we’ll see the start of the next World versus World tournaments. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
August 22, 2014
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. This has been a very fraught week for (certain parts of) the Guild Wars 2 fan community … and we at GuildMag were accidentally instrumental in heightening tensions. We published an interview with some ArenaNet developers from gamescom in Cologne, with several questions provided by members of the GW2 community. Some of the answers were perhaps not as well phrased as they could be, and in no time the agitators and conspiracy theorists were in full panicked flight. It took a while to begin to subside, and the ruffled feathers are only just settling back into place.
Next week will be the second anniversary of the GW2 release, but so far ArenaNet hasn’t dropped any hints about what celebrations may be scheduled. There will be a short WvW tournament in September, beginning right after the next feature pack is released.
Aside from the post-interview angststorm, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
August 15, 2014
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The current chapter of the Living Story is The Dragon’s Reach, Part 2. ArenaNet have also made several announcements from gamescom in Cologne where they’re running a Europe vs China vs North America PvP event during the convention. Perhaps the most interesting of those announcements is that the next Feature Pack will be released in early September (more details to be trailed over the next few weeks). In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
August 8, 2014
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The next chapter of the Living Story will be The Dragon’s Reach, Part 2. However, thanks to my own fumble-fingeredness, I only just got started on part 1 content last night. I accidentally deleted the in-game email that starts the current episode and it took a while to find out how to get back on-track after that. I hope to get caught up this weekend. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
August 1, 2014
My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. The current chapter of the Living Story is called The Dragon’s Reach, Part 1 … but for various reasons I haven’t actually tried any of the new content yet. I expect to get caught up this weekend. In addition, there’s the usual assortment of blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community.
July 25, 2014
Published on 24 Jul 2014
Firefly Online (FFO) is an online strategic roleplaying game set in the universe of Joss Whedon’s cult classic TV show – Firefly.
Players take on the role of a ship captain as they hire a crew and lead missions, while trading with and competing against millions of other players like themselves. Much like the crew of Serenity, the Firefly-class transport ship featured in the original show, players must do whatever it takes to survive in the Verse: find a crew, find a job and keep flying.
Currently in development for PC, Mac, iOS and Android. For more info or to register go to www.keepflying.com.