Sunday, April 1, 2007

Virtual World & Education

Have you ever wondered of the educational values of the Virtual Worlds?

Think math. Micheal Field, an enthusiatic parent, used the World of Warcraft (WoW) to teach his two children about money management by offering them an in-game allowance for their real world activities such as doing homework or other household chores. This parent plays the game with his children and earns game currency as he plays the game. During the course of game play, his children come across things they would like to have for their avatars such as pets or a new weapon. He doesn’t tell them how to spend their in-game allowance but reminds them that if they spend it they will not be getting any more money until their normal allowance date. Also when it comes to helping in household chorus these children get rewards for WoW in game currency for
helping out.

Next Well’'s Fargo bank had also tapped into area to educate young financial responsibility. In the digital environment of SecondLife, Visitors there can skydive, fly hovercrafts, dance and shop. What Well Fargo offerred were deposit services and where players can save money and it would them earn daily interest - '“The idea, though, is to teach the players to save money--they earn 10 percent per day on "deposits"--and to learn new things about money management through a series of quizzes that, when completed, reward players with $5 of new funds.”'


Virtual World Terms

Have you ever encountered scenarios where people talk about virtual worlds and you don't understand a word they are saying. Look no further, here are some common terms you can learn:
Avatar - A representation of the player that is used to interact in the game environment through controllers or a combination of keyboard commands and a mouse-driven interface. Communication occurs through a typed chat interface as well as animated expressions or gestures.

Bot - a subset of Farmer. A bot refers to using an automated script or computer program to
perform certain functions over and over without the need to a human to actually control the avatar.

Camp - To remain in the same physical location in the game world for an extended period of
time. Typically, this refers to waiting for a special or rare NPC to appear.

Farmer - A player who camps the same spawn repeatedly and for hours on-end for the express purpose of obtaining some game currency or item, denying others the opportunity.

MMO - Massive Multiplayer Online game

NPC - Non-Player Character. These are characters or monsters within the game world that are controlled by the game.

Petition - A method to request in-game assistance from a customer service representative.

Player Character - This is the game character controlled by the person playing the game. See also Avatar.

Spawn - Appearing of NPCs or game resource in a location within the game.

Subscribers - Registered game players.


Monday, March 26, 2007

Women & Online gaming

Based on a report from Mintel Online for online gaming, which by definition includes games downloaded from the Internet or played while online, there is a growing number of women playing online games, especially casual games.

Reports from Entertainment Software Association (ESA) show that women over the age of 18 represent 30% of the game-playing population, numbers significantly greater portion than boys from 6 to 17 at 23% in 2006.

Also the Ziff Davis’s Media Game Group found out that women comprise 63% of adult PC gamers. And through Simmons NCS Spring 2005, it was discovered that more women play online games (18% of female respondents age 18 and over had played a game online or downloaded a game to their PC in the last 30 days compared with 15% of male respondents).

According to the ESA, the average adult woman plays games 7.4 hours per week compared to 7.6 hours for adult males. Although males spend more time playing games than women, the gap has narrowed significantly. In 2003, males spent an average of 18 more minutes a day playing games; in 2004, they spent only 6 minutes more each day doing so. When it comes to online gaming, women lead. An AOL DMS Survey, presented in the IGDA’s Casual Game Whitepaper 2005, found that females spent 46% of their game playing time playing online games. Males spent 26% of their total game playing time playing online games. This holds true despite the limited marketing to female consumers by game publishers to date. There appears to be an opportunity to expand the market by creating games for, and targeting them to, female consumers.

Figure: Genres of games played online, by gender, October 2005 - “Which of the following types of games to you play online on your PC?”























Role playing












Base: 1,068 adults aged 18 and older who
play games online on their PC at home/work

Source: Mintel/Greenfield Online

This report is a prove that the growing number of female players in the online gaming market has a huge potential and has not yet been fully tapped into. The shift in the online gaming paradigm means that game designs will be also shifting to appeal to the significant growing group and that we should see a decrease in gore and violence in new developments.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Growth of Gaming Industry

From "The Growth of the Computer and Video Game Industry" by Adam Bryzak:

An interesting correlation between the computer and video game industry against the movie and music industry brought up was brought up in this article. It was compared that sales figures of the games in 2005 amount to $7.0 billion, closing up the gap against the U.S. box office which was $8.99 billion and the recording industry’s sales at $12.3 billion.

Over the past 10 years, the gaming industry has evolved and growth so much that it is now a competitive entertainment medium against the traditional businesses. Through records, the gameing industry has also almost tripled dollar sales since 1996 however the recording industry has decreased sales since 1996 by more than $0.2 billion.

Is the gaming industry becoming a threat to the movie and music industry?

Most people wouldn't think so. I believe that all these industries are inseparable, movie inspire games, games need music, music inspires movies, so on and so forth. There is a huge number of connection between this industries and the gradual drop in the recording/ music industry was due to an equalization effect from the introduction of a new industry.

As long as people have the need to relax, there will always be a need for the entertainment industry and each being an individual will tend to differ in taste for the category of entertainment they would indulge in.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Who has the Rights?

This is an interesting arguement cited from

by Andrew D. Schwarz, Robert Bullis

A section of this article questions the many gray areas game developers prey on to "preserve" gaming experience of their online virtual worlds/ games.

Principle of the first sale doctrine:
  • A copyright holder who sells to a wholesaler could not bind a downstream retailer to selling at a given price, even if the book itself explicitly included such a price-maintenance claim.
  • The purpose of the copyright laws was to prevent unauthorized copying of the work in question and to grant the sole right to sell the copies into the market, but "[t]o add to the right of exclusive sale the authority to control all future retail sales, by a notice that such sales must be made at a fixed sum, would give a right not included" in the copyright statute.
And so the classical example of Napster being sued for infringing music publishers' right to control the reproduction and distribution of their copyrighted materials clearly explains this law. Purchasing copyrighted content does not mean you own the content, it only means you licensed it and have the rights to use it. For this scenario, duplication of copyrighted content from one computer into the next allows someone else to use the content and redistribute it for free again and again outrightly violates the laws of copyrights.

Here comes the question, does this really apply to intellectual property (IP) in the online games? Virtual items sold in these games, do not work the same way. Once the virtual item is sold, the seller no longer has it and will have to commit to dedicate time to develop or look for this item again. Like passing on a physical item, no duplication is involved here unlike file-sharing in the case of Napster, the distributor still retains his/her copy of the original file.

Say a physical object example a book. The book can change hands and resold over and over again, what matters is that at each point in time only one person can have the given copy of the book. This makes it questionable for online game developers to say players infringe their IP should they sell an virtual item for cash and then there is also no way to justify the facts that giving these items away for free do not violate the law.