Thursday, July 10, 2008

Daily Life on a Synthetic Earth

Castronova's goal for this article was to give unaware readers an overview of how someone gets into a synthetic world and what to do when you enter. He does this by taking the reader on a "tour" of the typical experience of getting involved in a massive online rpg.

The tour ends up being more than half of the article and needs no explaining, but there were three important moments in it. He goes over all three in the most important section of the article, "reality check".

The first of the moments he reflected over was when the avatars attributes felt like they were your own. He states that it seems to be psychologically natural because you begin to feel the avatar as just an extension of your own body. He claims it is similar to a man with a prosthetic arm calling it his own arm.

The second moment is when you acquired an emotional investment in a virtual world event. This occurred when Ethelbert took 5 of the 10 bottles Sabert had found and Sabert became angry. It may seem silly to those who haven’t ever played an online game to become emotionally flustered because someone took something that is made of 0s and 1s from you.
The third and final point of reflection is when Sabert was thankful for Ethelbert when he gave him the gold piece. The difference between the bottle and the gold piece is the gold piece cant help you fly like the special ale. So what value does it have? Financial value. Massive online games have an economy just like in the real world. That is why Sabert was filled with joy when he received the gold.

Castronova then goes on to talk about how factors in the game can jump the digital line and effect events in the real world. The real world economy can be affected by events in the game. A good example of this is the gold farmers that are well known from World of Warcraft. He also goes into that social effects and political effects can also spill over and affect the real world.

Overall this article is like an “idiots guide to” MMORPGs. It is clearly meant for readers who are inexperienced in the online gaming world or those who are looking to learn about it.


Eric M said...

I found two points of the article to be really intriguing to me. The first was the "me" aspect of video games that we saw earlier in the game in which the player forms an emotional attachment to the character. I certainly have experienced this in my times of playing beat em ups for the Sega Genesis and role playing games for the Playstation. However, I, being an economics major, was really interested in the blurring of the line between the game economics and real world economics. I had heard a little about gamers selling their characters and accounts, but had no idea how much they were getting and how big the market was. I think that is one aspect that we will continue to see grow in the future of games as far as the economics go.

Marlon Heimerl said...

What is interesting to me is this idea that some attributes inherent in Avatar's will be attributed by the game player to themselves, in terms of similarities or quasi-extensions of the human body. While reading this part of the article I found it hard not to think back to the article on Avatar rape. Should these two articles together stand together as testament to the illegality that should follow from an Avatar rape? I would argue that together they certainly make a strong case in favor of ascribing at least basic rights to Avatar's as an extension of the human body.

Sarah. R. said...

I think this article will end up being like the LamdaMOO one will be, in several years time. For now, it's a kind of exposé for people who have no experience with virtual-world games (MMOS and the like), but in years to come it will read like telling someone how amazing it is to listen to a radio broadcast. Know what I mean?