State of Play, Day 2

Trying to think about yesterday’s sessions before we get started. What is sticking with me is this:

1. No application, design or game can live up to the utopian imagination of potential users or players, and that utopian imagination is surprisingly resilient in the face of many disappointments. I’ve been writing a bit recently about a couple of notorious past cases of vaporware MMOs where players really expected everything and more from them: a sandbox, a mimetic mirror of the world, an instrument to reform real life, and more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. So I should know better to have those feelings myself by now. And yet, I really was struggling with deflated feelings as I messed around with Metaplace during and after Raph Koster’s keynote on it. Those feelings aren’t fair to Metaplace, which seems very interesting in many respects, and provides some fascinating points of contrast and comparison to Second Life in particular. But somehow I was expecting an authoring environment that would generate a wider variety of visual and narrative experiences for users and a wider range of implied invitations to possible creators. Maybe that has yet to come, because it’s still very early days for it. The thing for me now is to see it for what it is and what it was meant by its producers to be. Still, even in those terms, to go back to my post from yesterday, I was struck that Raph seemed to position Metaplace in terms of functions and purposes that are already strongly served or satisfied by existing tools and applications.

2. This morning, Doug Thomas is talking about the theme of “Plateau” for the conference, and in the magic circle and economies panel, I did feel that we’re at a point rather like that. But it makes it frustrating because it’s hard to move the conversation onward in a number of respects.

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