The Final Report of the Preserving Virtual Worlds project is now available through the University of Illinois IDEALS repository at http://hdl.handle.net/2142/17097. The report includes findings from the entire project team on issues relating to the preservation of video games and interaction fiction, including issues around library & archival collection development/management, bibliographic description, copyright & intellectual property, preservation strategies, metadata & packaging, and next steps for both the professional and research community with regards to these complex and important resources. My deep thanks go out to all of my colleagues on the project, the Library of Congress, and all of the people in the research and gaming communities who’ve contributed their time and assistance. — JPM
This Way Up, a radio show with Simon Morton from Radio New Zealand National which focuses on things that people use and consume, will be airing an interview with Jerome McDonough regarding the Preserving Virtual Worlds work on Saturday, Aug. 8. The interview will also be available through their website at http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/thiswayup
USA Today has an article today on the International Videogame Hall of fame, with a brief mention of other game archiving efforts, including Preserving Virtual Worlds.
Roger Ebert has written an article expanding on his earlier statement that “video games can never be art.” As might be expected, it has produced a comment thread many, many times longer than the article itself. I don’t find Ebert’s arguments that persuasive, and his concluding paragraph is particularly weak:
I allow Sangtiago the last word. Toward the end of her presentation, she shows a visual with six circles, which represent, I gather, the components now forming for her brave new world of video games as art. The circles are labeled: Development, Finance, Publishing, Marketing, Education, and Executive Management. I rest my case.
The artists that Ebert mentioned in his article and in the comment thread (Cormac McCarthy, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Dickens, Picasso) were, as it happens, all making money off it. Making a living off of your art doesn’t mean that it’s not art, and Mr. Ebert is probably more aware than most of the amount of energy devoted to financial management in the film industry, which he allows does produce art now and again.
Arguments about whether X is art inevitably turn into arguments about the nature of art itself, but I honestly expected Mr. Ebert to come up with a more compelling argument on those lines.
Photojournalist Robbie Cooper has published a book Alter Ego: Avatars and their Creators, which has photographs of gamers from around the world, paired with pictures of their respective avatars. Some samples from the book are available at his site, http://www.robbiecooper.org/. Click on the link that says “Simulations” and then on the one that says “Alter Egos” and you’ll pull up a page with a link to the photos. The ones I find interesting are the ones who’ve clearly gone to some trouble to make their avatar match their real world appearance to some extent, although obviously the gaming system affects that degree to which that’s possible — not much you can do to replicate your appearance in WoW.
Art Chimes of Voice of America did a segment on his show regarding the Preserving Virtual Worlds project. You can find the show online here, with the segment on PVW starting at about 15:53.
There.com announces that they’re shutting down as of March 9th.
Via Matt Kirschenbaum, an interesting article at the Chronicle of Higher Ed on the use of virtual worlds in the higher education arena and the drop off of interest after initial experimentation. Bonus points for the article’s author, Jeff Young, for getting something that most people don’t: 3D worlds are not the tremendous boon that virtual world evangelists have portrayed them as since the first big boom of worlds in the mid-90s. 3D worlds pay their biggest benefits when you actually need to to deal with 3D materials, and in the education setting, that is mostly for simulation of structures, whether cellular or architectural. I teach online all the time, and a 3D world would add nothing to most of my classes except a bunch of unnecessary affordances for the students to navigate to participate in the learning experience. Now, if I was teaching something like environmental design, I could see a place for using 3D worlds for some things (although not the basic classroom experience). Everyone interested in applying 3D world technologies in the educational setting should be forced to sit down and read everything Don Norman has written first. Perhaps then we’d see a bit more concern about actually ensuring that 3D technology is applied in the educational setting only when it provides an appropriate design solution to problems students might have in apprehending the information we’re trying to give them.
The Preserving Virtual Worlds project is written up by Clay Risen in The Atlantic.
Interesting article at Business Management on the relative sales of the film Avatar and the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Both have over $1 billion in sales to day. Call of Duty 2 actually had a somewhat higher advertising budget ($200 million to Avatar’s $150 million), and apparently film makers are starting to get a little wary of releasing a film on the same weekend as a major game title release. Call of Duty 2 has already made $750 million in profit. Apparently I’m in the wrong line of work.