Online gaming (and related consoles like the Wii and Xbox 360) is quickly graduating from a teenage past-time to a massive industry, partly because the generation raised on Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers is aging and still playing games. Adult gaming is huge today. Movies today can gross more from the associated games than from the movies themselves. XBox’s Halo 3, which released in September and allows people to play joint missions from multiple locations connected online, had the biggest release in entertainment history—grossing some $170 million in its first 24 hours.
Second Life is probably the best known of the various games and it has spawned a massive economic industry within it (although the benefits are questionable). Before class on Monday, please sign up for a Second Life account (basic membership is fine) and download the application before class so we can get started in class. If you’re using the school’s computers, just create your account. Read the Wikipedia page carefully so you understand the game (tech subjects like this are where you can trust Wikipedia better than just about any other source). BusinessWeek also had a good cover story on this phenomenon last year (make sure to note and listen to the podcast). If you love this and are interested in journalism, then go ahead and join the reporting staff of the Second Life Herald, the game’s virtual newspaper, or become one of the game’s embedded reporters. Also check out the Second Life Showcase to see some cool things going on in the game and listen to a podcast or two. Confused? Don’t be. Very few people understand how this world works and what its impact could be; that’s especially true of groups with an agenda.
Beyond Second Life, World of Warcraft is probably the second-best known, with a huge passionate following. How huge and how passionate, you ask skeptically? Try roughly 2 million North American players, 1.5 million European players, and 3.5 million Chinese. That’s some seven million PAYING users.
Companies are beginning to realize how big gaming is and how influential games can be in helping people make decisions, as well influencing decisions and policies. The North Carolina firm Persuasive Games is probably the leader in online game development. Go ahead and play a couple of them. Blog about your experiences. Are the games effective in getting their point/message across? What surprised you about this week’s readings?
As for next week, a reminder that you need to be all caught up on your blogging. It’s the sixth week of class, which means that you must have five (5) blog entries. One each on the following: (1) We the Media/Cluetrain/Naked Conversations; (2) The Long Tail; (3) The Search; (4) Here Comes Everybody; and (5) Gaming. If you are all caught up, I’d strongly encourage to work ahead on an extra blog post or two. You can’t do them all at the end of the semester. If you don’t have all five blog entries done by next week, you won’t be able to make them up.
Next week in class, we’ll be talking about the final project and the field report, which given how short this semester is turning out to be, we’ll wrap into one.