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.