Liveblogging From State of Play, NYC

Raph Koster, “A New Kind of World”, keynote

Focused on Metaplace.

Had to ban his own brother from UO. Brother is now cyberactivist. But virtual worlds don’t have that relevance, really. Nothing has happened in them that matters by comparison to what’s happening with Twitter, blogs, and so on. Virtual worlds aren’t really social media, despite our looking at them with such excitement.

Why do we assume virtual worlds are relevant, given how the incredibly relevant character of other new media, online tools, etc.? The thing is that other online media forms are largely open, individually autonomous, decentralized.

“Virtual worlds don’t really work this way”. Metaplace, he argues, is different. It’s open, designed to work with and be like the Web.

But what is the “killer app” for virtual worlds? It’s wasting time, having fun, escapism. Serious uses aren’t what they’re about.

HERE is my big question at this point, then. 1. Why should a place for “having fun” be interoperable with the Web, being open, and so on? Without going too far towards the “magic circle”, a lot of play and leisure are set aside or semi-separated from the rest of everyday life. The Web is a place for acting, publishing, intercommunicating; those things can happen in play, but trying to make play into a place for acting, publishing, intercommunicating is missing in a way what people want from entertainment and play? 2. Why do we want to do these things through avatars, 3d representations, etc.? There is an old desire to make interfaces visual, but maybe the centrality of text to the Web isn’t an accident. Once you describe Metaplace the way Raph does, the question is, ‘Why not just stick with Twitter, blogs, Flickr…what is missing from the Web that Metaplace provides? Or for that matter, what is missing from digital games? Warcraft provides a game, the Sims a dollhouse.

The beginning of Raph’s answer: it involves placeness, persistence and avatars.

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2 Responses to Liveblogging From State of Play, NYC

  1. Senor_Feesherplein says:

    As human beings we deal with and move through 3-dimensional spaces better than we do 2D. In fact the few times I have attempted to move through 2 dimensions it has ended messy with weeks of diarrhea and wretched headaches.

    So why do we spend so much time in 2-D desktops and their corresponding applications? Got me, but the day someone builds a 3-D operating system that is connected to the fat global network I will be the first to illegally download and install it.

    If this means adding the functions I am using to type on this blog into a 3/D space with an awesome iphone like intuitive touch interface, please give it to me as i wants it.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to walk out of your “house” and into a gaming world which would represent closing microsoft word (your novel thats going on 10 years unfinished) and starting world of warcraft?

    There is something to be said for the journey to the further journey. Transitions cant not be discounted and I wouldn’t mind if the transition from working world to playing world was done in one 3D application.

  2. Timothy Burke says:

    See, I’m not convinced. There have been attempts to build 3-D desktops, for example, and they’re interesting but in certain ways frustrating.

    Space is natural to us, but it also has among other things a temporality all its own. E.g., traversing space takes time. A spatial workplace changes the temporality of how you work in some ways. If I’m looking for six resources that don’t have spatiality (documents in a folder, for example) that’s different than pulling six books from different shelves. In one sense, the shelves feel ‘natural’ but they’re also an impediment. Technologies transform the expression of the natural. Our minds are not readily adapted to moving rapidly using vehicles while our bodies remain still, either, but that doesn’t mean that there’s an urgent need to reconcile what our minds work well with and what vehicular transport accomplishes, except to ease or ameliorate the disorienting effects that such travel has on our vision, etc.

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