Virtual Worlds Oct. 4, 2010
Virtual Worlds • What is a virtual world? • Where did they come from? • Who participates? • What are some major issues in virtual life?
What is a Virtual World? • An online environment accessed by multiple users • People, places and experience
Virtual World Usage • 803 million registered accounts at end of 2009
Virtual World Usage • Virtual goods traded in the United States could be worth up to $5 billion in the next five years • Sales in Asia are already around $5 billion • About 2/3 of the top Facebook apps are games
Virtual World Usage • Second Life economy totaled $567 million US dollars in 2009 • Second Life residents spent 481 million hours in the world in 2009
Virtual World: History • Three stages in history • PH1: Precursors • 1961 - Space War (spacewar.oversigma.com) • 1969 - ARPAnet (Advanced Research Projects Agency) built by MIT and DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) – Packet switching network • Dungeons and Dragons (1974)
Maze War • 1974 First networked, 3D game with multiple users
MUD • Multi-User Dungeon • Oldest virtual world • 1978, Roy Trubshaw, Essex University • Richard Bartle • 1980 goes to Internet = first MORPG • British-legends.com
MMORPG • Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game • 1984 – Island of Kesmai
Habitat for Commodore 64 • 64 KB of memory • LucasFilms, 1985-87, launched on QuantumLink in 1988 • First MMORPG with graphic interface • 20,000-50,000 users • Object-Oriented model
Lessons • "The essential lesson that we have abstracted from our experiences with Habitat is that a cyberspace is defined more by the interactions among the actors within it than by the technology with which it is implemented." "At the core of our vision is the idea that cyberspace is necessarily a multiple-participant environment. It seems to us that the things that are important to the inhabitants of such an environment are the capabilities available to them, the characteristics of the other people they encounter there, and the ways these various participants can affect one another. Beyond a foundation set of communications capabilities, the details of the technology used to present this environment to its participants, while sexy and interesting, are of relatively peripheral concern."
Lessons • "The more people we involved in something, the less in control we were. We could influence things, we could set up interesting situations, we could provide opportunities for things to happen, but we could not predict nor dictate the outcome. Social engineering is, at best, an inexact science, even in proto-cyberspaces. Or, as some wag once said, "in the most carefully constructed experiment under the most carefully controlled conditions, the organism will do whatever it damn well pleases."
Lessons • Moral problem of killing • Infrastructure level virtualityvs. experiential level virtuality • Cheating death • “You can’t trust anyone.”
PH2: Early Adopter • 1993 Cybertown • 1994-96: A number of Social Virtual Worlds
PH3: Mainstream • 2002 – Sims Online launched • 2003 – Second Life launched • 2004 – World of Warcraft launched
Player Types • Achievers – Diamonds • Explorers – Spades • Socializers – Hearts • Killers – Clubs • Where are these from? Who made these?
Four MUD types • 1. Killers and achievers in equilibrium • 2. All groups have equal influence • 3. Dominated by socializers • 4. No players at all (everyone leaves)
Social vs. game play • Social Virtual World • Communication • Creativity (building) • Gameplay may be an activity
Social vs. game play • Game play world • May have SVW features, but mostly focused on game-play
Virtual Worlds • Games to achievers • Hobby to explorers • Sport to killers • Entertainment to socializers
Virtual Worlds • In a real system that is going to be used by real people, it is a mistake to assume that the users will all undertake the sorts of noble and sublime activities which you created the system to enable. Most of them will not. Cyberspace may indeed change humanity, but only if it begins with humanity as it really is. • Habitat Creators
Why care about virtual worlds? • Escapism • Make money • Create inclusive community experiences • Distribution • Shared realities • New medium of artistic expression (Machinima) • Learning spaces • Research environments • Your thoughts?