Advertising In Virtual Worlds?

This Australian Age article claiming that advertising in virtual worlds is taking off might be a little more believable if it weren’t centered mostly on Project Entropia, the Enron of MMORPGs.

When last we saw Project Entropia, it was claiming that a user paid $100,000 for a piece of in-game property, only it turned out the user was also a spokesman for the company. If you believe that was a legitimate sale, I’ve got a bridge in Azeroth you can have real cheap.

According to Australia Age,

The latest release of the game, created by MindArk PE AB of Sweden, features advertising billboards. Through a PowerPoint-like system, players created animated ads and buy time on the billboards.

So far, the ads have been promoting player-organized in-game events like fashion shows and hunting competitions, as well as businesses like stores and hunting grounds, said Marco Behrmann, MindArk’s [sic] directory of player relations.

Sometimes I think Project Entropia is a culture jamming project designed to see just how many gullible reporters and news organizations it can suck into reprinting its transparent self-promotion.

There’s also a passing mention of Second Life in the Age article, but no indication that advertising itself is especially lucrative in-game (though, obviously, some players in SL are making significant amounts of real-world money hawking their virtual wares).

Source:

Advertising takes off in virtual worlds. Australia Age, April 5, 2006.

WWII As Online Game

Via Treading Water comes one of the funniest things I’ve read in months — World War II if it had been conducted online:

Hitler[AoE] has joined the game.*
*Eisenhower has joined the game.*
*paTTon has joined the game.*
*Churchill has joined the game.*
*benny-tow has joined the game.*
*T0J0 has joined the game.*
*Roosevelt has joined the game.*
*Stalin has joined the game.*
*deGaulle has joined the game.*
Roosevelt: hey sup
T0J0: y0
Stalin: hi
Churchill: hi
Hitler[AoE]: cool, i start with panzer tanks!
paTTon: lol more like panzy tanks
T0JO: lol
Roosevelt: o this fockin sucks i got a depression!
benny-tow: haha america sux
Stalin: hey hitler you dont fight me i dont fight u, cool?
Hitler[AoE]; sure whatever
Stalin: cool
deGaulle: **** Hitler rushed some1 help
Hitler[AoE]: lol byebye frenchy
Roosevelt: i dont got **** to help, sry
Churchill: wtf the luftwaffle is attacking me
Roosevelt: get antiair guns
Churchill: i cant afford them
benny-tow: u n00bs know what team talk is?
paTTon: stfu
Roosevelt: o yah hit the navajo button guys
deGaulle: eisenhower ur worthless come help me quick
Eisenhower: i cant do **** til rosevelt gives me an army
paTTon: yah hurry the fock up
Churchill: d00d im gettin pounded
deGaulle: this is fockin weak u guys suck
*deGaulle has left the game.*
Roosevelt: im gonna attack the axis k?
benny-tow: with what? ur wheelchair?
benny-tow: lol did u mess up ur legs AND ur head?
Hitler[AoE]: ROFLMAO
T0J0: lol o no america im comin 4 u
Roosevelt: wtf! thats bullsh1t u fags im gunna kick ur asses
T0JO: not without ur harbors u wont! lol
Roosevelt: u little biotch ill get u
Hitler[AoE]: wtf
Hitler[AoE]: america hax, u had depression and now u got a huge fockin army
Hitler[AoE]: thats bullsh1t u hacker
Churchill: lol no more france for u hitler
Hitler[AoE]: tojo help me!
T0J0: wtf u want me to do, im on the other side of the world retard
Hitler[AoE]: fine ill clear you a path
Stalin: WTF u arsshoel! WE HAD A FoCKIN TRUCE
Hitler[AoE]: i changed my mind lol
benny-tow: haha
benny-tow: hey ur losing ur guys in africa im gonna need help in italy soon sum1
T0J0: o **** i cant help u i got my hands full
Hitler[AoE]: im 2 busy 2 help
Roosevelt: yah thats right ***** im comin for ya
Stalin: church help me
Churchill: like u helped me before? sure ill just sit here
Stalin: dont be an arss
Churchill: dont be a commie. oops too late
Eisenhower: LOL
benny-tow: hahahh oh sh1t help
Hitler: o man ur focked
paTTon: oh what now biotch
Roosevelt: whos the cripple now lol
*benny-tow has been eliminated.*
benny-tow: lame
Roosevelt: gj patton
paTTon: thnx
Hitler[AoE]: WTF eisenhower hax hes killing all my sh1t
Hitler[AoE]: quit u hacker so u dont ruin my record
Eisenhower: Nuts!
benny~tow: wtf that mean?
Eisenhower: meant to say nutsack lol finger slipped
paTTon: coming to get u hitler u paper hanging hun cocksocker
Stalin: rofl
T0J0: HAHAHHAA
Hitler[AoE]: u guys are fockin gay
Hitler[AoE]: ur never getting in my city
*Hitler[AoE] has been eliminated.*
benny~tow: OMG u noob you killed yourself
Eisenhower: ROFLOLOLOL
Stalin: OMG LMAO!
Hitler[AoE]: WTF i didnt click there omg this game blows
*Hitler[AoE] has left the game*
paTTon: hahahhah
T0J0: WTF my teammates are n00bs
benny~tow: shut up noob
Roosevelt: haha wut a moron
paTTon: wtf am i gunna do now?
Eisenhower: yah me too
T0J0: why dont u attack me o thats right u dont got no ships lololol
Eisenhower: fock u
paTTon: lemme go thru ur base commie
Stalin: go to hell lol
paTTon: fock this sh1t im goin afk
Eisenhower: yah this is gay
*Roosevelt has left the game.*
Hitler[AoE]: wtf?
Eisenhower: sh1t now we need some1 to join
*tru_m4n has joined the game.*
tru_m4n: hi all
T0J0: hey
Stalin: sup
Churchill: hi
tru_m4n: OMG OMG OMG i got all his stuff!
tru_m4n: NUKES! HOLY **** I GOT NUKES
Stalin: d00d gimmie some plz
tru_m4n: no way i only got like a couple
Stalin: omg dont be gay gimmie nuculer secrets
T0J0: wtf is nukes?
T0J0: holy ****holy****hoyl****!
*T0J0 has been eliminated.*
*The Allied team has won the game!*
Eisenhower: awesome!
Churchill: gg noobs no re
T0J0: thats bull**** u fockin suck
*T0J0 has left the game.*
*Eisenhower has left the game.*
Stalin: next game im not going to be on ur team, u guys didnt help me for ****
Churchill: wutever, we didnt need ur help neway dumbarss
tru_m4n: l8r all
benny~tow: bye
Churchill: l8r
Stalin: fock u all
tru_m4n: shut up commie lol
*tru_m4n has left the game.*
benny~tow: lololol u commie
Churchill: ROFL
Churchill: bye commie
*Churchill has left the game.*
*benny~tow has left the game.*
Stalin: i hate u all fags
*Stalin has left the game.*
paTTon: lol no1 is left
paTTon: weeeee i got a jeep
*paTTon has been eliminated.*
paTTon: o sh1t!
*paTTon has left the game.*

Why PK-ing Is So Much Fun in MMORPGs (Or Pretty Much Any Other Game)

Where were classes like this when I was an undergraduate? I remember writing a 100-page analysis of George McClellan’s footdragging, not spending time on MUDs (the closest equivalent at the time) and writing “ethnographic analyses.” But I’m not bitter.

Anyway, for a communications class an instructor had her students write ethnographic studies of World of Warcraft. The resulting papers and student weblogs can be found here. The papers range from the utterly ridiculous to the insightful. The paper I found most interesting was the student who covered the issue of player-killing.

The World of Warcraft game has dozens of servers. When you’ve logged on with your account you can create a character on any of the servers. At least with the group of people I play with, we tend to just pick a server and create characters there. You can only play one character at a time, so while I’ve got three characters on the Stormscale server, only one of them can be active and playing at any one time.

There are two types of servers to pick from when it comes to player killing. The most numerous is the basic Player-vs-Environment server. On this server the main focus of the game is killing mobs, finishing quests, etc. You can definitely do player killing in this game, but for the most part you either a) have to do it in a special area set up for PVP play, or b) the other players in the area have to explicitly opt-in to PVP play by selecting an option that makes it possible for them to kill or be killed for the next 5 minutes.

The other type is the PVP server. On a PVP server, most of the areas of the world except for some low-level beginning areas are open killing fields. If you’re trying to complete a quest and someone of the opposite faction comes along and decides to attack you, they can do so at any time (and vice versa). Moreover, there’s no penalty (though also no in-game benefit) for players of very high level killing players of very low level.

In WoW, there are two basic factions, the Horde (undead, orcs, etc.) and the Alliance (human, elves, gnomes, etc.) Players are either on one side or the other — I only play Alliance characters.

I play on Stormscale which is on a PVP server — and I couldn’t imagine playing on a PVE server. Moreover, I pretty much try to kill every player I come across where I might actually have a chance to do so. So if I’m just riding through Alterac Valley and see some 18th level player who only has half his health points left? I’ll dismount and send my level 50 Warlock after him to finish the job.

There is also the group PVP-ing, like getting a large group together to go raid a nearby Horde village or town, which might end up with 20 Horde vs. 20 Alliance (or more) in an hours-long back-and-forth battle.

Of course the other side is that this also happens quite a bit to me — I’ll be questing with my wife when some level 60 rogue comes along and wipes us out before we’ve even had a chance to figure out where the attack is coming from. After awhile though, you learn to adapt, and customize your character and your strategy to the constant PVP action.

There are also the folks who try to do something other than PVP, even on a PVP server. As Aaron Delwiche’s paper notes, some players will try to wave, smile or even dance as a sign of “lets not fight … at least for now.” Again, the way I play is that if the person waving is too high to kill anyway, then fine we can play nice. But if I think I’ve got a chance to kill him, then a wave pretty much means, “hey, come over here and try to kill me.”

There is also some debate in the forums about things like ganking (attacking a player while he’s already fighting a mob — and likely has less health points, etc). and other tactics. Occasionally people in the forums complain that such fights aren’t fair. As far as I’m concerned, though, the last thing I want is a fair fight. If someone else wants to play all chivalrous, more power to them, but my goal is to win in PVP encounters and typically the best way to win at any fight is to have an overwhelming advantage.

There is also the meta-criticism hinted at in Delwiche’s paper of the “can’t we all just get along” variety. The WoW beta and even the version launched in November 2004 had some features that allowed players of different factions to communicate. Those have all been removed. Anything, in fact, that might make it easy for co-op play between factions within the game has been removed. Delwiche and others seem to see this as a defect of the game, and are interested in the few attempts to do cross-faction cooperative gameplay.

This criticism might make sense if WoW was the only game of its kind, but there are always games like Second Life if you want to play UN Peacekeeper. These sort of analyses make about as much sense as discussing why American football gives the player so many tools to committ acts of violence against the opposing side, but such few tools for opposing factions to get together at the 50 yard line and just play catch with the ball.

Wizards of the Coast’s anti-MMORPG Ad

Boing! Boing! links to a scan of an advertisment that Wizards of the Coast has been running in gaming magazines ripping on massively multipler online roleplaying games. The ad shows a young man in a darkened room sitting in front of his computer with the copy,

If you’re going to sit in your basement pretending to be an elf, you should at least have some friends over to help. Dungeons and Dragons: Get together. Roll some Dice. Have Fun.

The only problem is that the ad’s message is a bit diluted by the fact that Wizards of the Coast has licensed an official Dungeon’s & Dragons Online MMORPG.

As far as that game, I doubt it will cut into WoW’s player base that much. One of the red flags in reading interviews with the developers is that so much of the content will be geared to groups of 4-6 players. I rarely play with more than another person, and like a lot of people spend the majority of my time soloing. I don’t want to be forced into doing group projects just to get through the bulk of the game.