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Posts Tagged ‘Everquest’

If you’re If you’re interested in taking the leap and exploring a virtual world or two where do you start? Your first decision is to determine whether you want to visit one of the open-ended non-gaming virtual worlds or one of the theme based MMORPGs (massive multi-player online role playing games).

Free-Form Worlds

The first category is most widely used for educational purposes. Second Life is probably the best known of these worlds and offers much to explore. There are also a number of published guides to this world to assist you. However, I have found its interface unique and somewhat complex for beginners.

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You know an area of interest has hit the mainstream when one of the “Dummies” series of books is published on that topic (Massively Multiplayer Games for Dummies by Scott Jennings (2006)). In recent years a number of books have been published that examine various aspects of the virtual world experience, some of general interest while others take a more academic approach. Having previous experience in one or more worlds will certainly provide a more meaningful context for your reading, but it is not required. In some cases the books may encourage you to explore virtual space. Here are two books that I found of particular interest as starting points:

1. Play Money (2006) by journalist Julian Dibbell reads like an adventure novel as it documents his attempt to make “play” his full time job for a year. For that year he sold virtual coins and objects that he acquired while playing the MMO Ultima Online for real money. In the book he raises a number of thoughtful issues regarding the nature of the virtual worlds and their relationship to real life. Here’s an excerpt from his blog that was written prior to the publication of the book:

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For my second visit to the virtual world of Everquest, I created a new character (an elf) and began exploring the surrounding area. I noticed activity on a nearby hill and upon coming closer spotted a group of avatars defending the hill from an onslaught of foul looking creatures (orcs as I recall). The group leader sent me a message to ask if I would like to join them. I was delighted to be invited and for the next hour or so I became a member of the team, using my abilities to help defend the high ground against the “evil” enemy. When we appeared to have succeeded and the number of orcs attacking us became fewer, we decided to disband the group and go on our separate ways. We congratulated each other on our success as a team and vowed to work together in the future. I recall feeling quite energized by the experience and it reminded me of times I had gone on “adventures” with my friends as a child. I was struck by how effectively this virtual world had recreated that experience.

What a Difference a Day Makes

The very next day I logged on and went straight to the same hill to see if any members of the team had returned. (more…)

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My First Virtual World Experience

In 2001, ten years after my my first computer game experience with Sid Meier’s Civilization, I was teaching an online course entitled Psychology of the Internet. Our text was a title by the same name authored by Patricia Wallace. Although somewhat dated (1999), it’s still a good read, filled with research comparing online and real life behavior. Wallace made several references in her book to Metaworlds which she described as “Internet based graphical multiuser worlds.” While I had heard of text based virtual worlds such as MUDs and MOOs, I was unfamiliar with the online worlds that included sound and graphics. Given the nature of the course, it seemed to me that I should have some first hand knowledge of these online environments.

My stereotyped image of a virtual world was that of a glorified chat room for teens with graphics. Definitely not a place I would want to hang out for an extended period of time. My plan was to visit one of these worlds for a couple of hours, snoop around, and then be able to say that I had been there. Not enough time to be an expert, but enough to avoid looking like a total novice on the topic. Looking back, I had no clue as to what would await me.

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