Archive for the Online Gaming Category

PS3 “Home”: Metaphor for everything wrong with Sony

Posted in Consoles, Online Gaming, Rants on January 6, 2009 by Kit

Oh man, where to start?

Home is Sony’s newish social networking experiment. I was invited to the public beta and so I strapped on my  pasty, lifeless, zombie-like avatar and wandered around. It’s since gone live, and I have logged in all of one time since then.

Home is sort of like Second Life, only more boring. Instead of making and sharing your own content, as in Second Life, you are stuck with the fare that Sony sees fit to dole out (or, more likely, sell you). Home itself is free to use, and I was at first bemused and then horrified to find that there are stores in Home where you can buy things like virtual lamps for your virtual living room. In Home, you can:

  • View ads for Sony content.
  • Pay (real) money to wear a new (virtual) t-shirt with a corporate logo on it.
  • Pay (real) money to decorate your sterile (virtual) living room with sterile (virtual) furniture.
  • Get cursed at by a racist 14 year old gamer d0od.
  • Fake dance terribly to shitty music. (Really, Sony?)
  • Watch your connection to the Playstation network repeatedly crash.
  • Bowl.

The only people I could ever imagine using this product are masochistic shut-ins, and they’re all busy in Second Life or posting on their blog (…)

I’m going out on a limb with a prediction: this product will never make a dime for Sony, even if they keep it online for a million years. And I hope it never does. Sony doesn’t deserve to make money off it, because it’s terrible. It’s simply not a compelling experience. There’s no content in it that I can’t get better, elsewhere. The inability to create anything, coupled with the ridiculous pay-to-play stores … it’s all just crippling. And the bowling is stupid.

The only real feature the game offers is the ability to use Home as a way to keep in touch with other people on the PS3 network, but there’s already dozens of better ways to do that… many of which are actually already part of PS3. From my PS3 I can instant message, send email, voice and video chat. Most individual games offer their own way to arrange network games. There’s just no reason to load up a giant, clunky interface so that I can do it with a stupid virtual t-shirt on.

I’d rather communicate by carrier pigeon.

This product is a picture-perfect example of what happens to social media when an old-fashioned monolithic corporation gets its grubby fingers into everything. When this happens, you get a product that nobody asked for, that does nothing anybody wants, and looks like it was designed by an octogenarian executive who once read an article in the Wall Street Journal in 2003 about this whole Facebook thing and who uses jargon like “Web 2.0” with a straight face and whose secretary has a son who’s really into Second Life.

This man thought to himself, “What if somebody had the bravery to harness the power of all this new technology to  … get this … show people advertisements!”

It’s just so cute the way Sony missed the point. The great power of social media is the ability to create your own stuff, that’s what makes it compelling to people. The platform itself (whether it be YouTube, WordPress, Second Life, or Facebook) is just a delivery mechanism. If your platform is just a static ad-delivery-service, it’s not going to attract any users. It’s particularly ironic that the same people who brought us LittleBigPlanet failed so completely at Home.

But then, I’m getting used to Sony failing. And that sucks, because despite it all I still like my PS3. But if Sony sees services like Home as the future of the platform, then the future doesn’t look all that bright.


A Series of Interesting Items

Posted in General, Online Gaming, PC Gaming with tags , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2008 by Kit

No time, no excuses – here’s some interesting stuff I’m seeing today.

Online game rivalry ends with real murder

All this shit does is convince me that my all stereotypes of online gamers are correct. Just kidding.

The press slobbers all over this in the same way they slobbered all over Satanic D&D Brainwashing back in the 80s. Fact is, there are some psychos out there who can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality. I’m willing to bet this’ll be true with any other new entertainment medium our children invent.

Still, it is a troubling story. Online gamers… will this make you think twice about who you choose to interact with in the game? Does the existence of (a statistically insignificant number of) people who will murder you when you beat them give you any second thoughts?

None of this is why I don’t play World of Warcraft. I just think MMOs suck.

Free Game! Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden!


I don’t even know where to begin. It’s like a Final Fantasy game only it stars Charles Barkley in a post-cyberpocalyptic New York where basketball has been banned. Just… watch… the trailer.

My Living Room

A man who keeps his computers for an average of 6 years between major upgrades is walking a fine line when it comes to Geek Cred. You are either a luddite who hates technology or an equally frightening sort of uber-geek who corners people at parties to tell jokes about vi, bash, or the latest revision of the GPL.

While I’m probably more of the latter than I care to admit… I plead that mostly I’m just cheap. I hate upgrades and I hate spending money on something I already have. So I tend to run computers until they accumulate so much cruft that the hard drive quietly asks me to take it out behind the shed and just shoot it for pity’s sake.

So my old computer has been moved down to the basement to quietly serve files, stream music, and download torrents. In its place is a shiny new computer with a lot of new and interesting capabilities. I’m nt going to list stats here, because I don’t want to be one of those guys. But let’s just say I can render with the best of ’em.

My current favorite new capability? The ability to use my computer to play Mario Kart 64 on my TV while Shae uses her own time more productively.

That’s right, I’m using my computer to play Mario Kart 64 and that’s my favorite part of this upgrade.

Next post: Remind me to tell you this great vi joke I heard the other day…

Science News and MMORPGs

Posted in Online Gaming, Science on November 6, 2007 by Kit

Great article in the latest issue of Science News (the lady of the house subscribes, and then I leave it in the bathroom). It’s called “Virtual Worlds, Real Science” and it’s about how epidemiologists are using Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) like World of Warcraft (WoW) to model the rules behind the spread of epidemics.

Recently, the programmers behind WoW unleashed a highly contagious and deadly plague called “corrupted blood” on the fictional population of their own game. It was a mistake, but characters died like flies.

Here’s the great part: All the fantasy people did the sorts of things that you would expect real people to do during a major epidemic. They ignored quarantine rules and “health service” (read: system administrator) warnings. They flouted travel restrictions and some even knowlingly infected other characters who didn’t know they were at risk.

The floors of many popular spots were covered with the bones of characters who had died. Awesome!

Stat hungry scientists are poring over WoW server logs right now, finding patterns and drawing pessimistic conclusions about human nature. They are even trying to convince the makers of MMORPGs to let them create another outbreak on purpose, so that they can run it like an organized experiment!

They love the online games, because they are populated by real people and thus theoretically provide a better model environment for human behavior than the pure computer simulation that they’ve traditionally used.

Somebody has found a use for these things!

Disclaimer: I don’t play Warcraft or any other MMORPG. I’m too antisocial. And when I put the controller down and spend the weekend outside… I wanna come back to a game that is more or less in the same state I left it in.