Articles of Interest

Gamasutra tells the history of Activision. You won’t learn too many lessons (aside from the hopefully obvious ones like “don’t piss off your key employees” and “floods of bad content jeopardize entire ecosystems”) but I enjoyed this anyway.

A great article by Kim addressing the impact of free games that are created by advertisers like Barbie/Mattel and distributed with little or no direct monetization in mind (beyond helping to sell physical product.) Rich Hilleman (of EA) alluded to the same phenomenon during one of my GDC panels when he said Kellogg is our competition.

WoW is up to 9M paying subs. Tremendous.

I occasionally resolve to pay less attention to Second Life, only to be sucked back in. The latest: Linden Labs has banned gambling. (By most accounts, gambling has represented a large percentage of all economic activity in SL.) A wise friend of mine noted that effective enforcement mechanisms remain unclear, and even with meaningful enforcement, you’re likely to see the real-world equivalent of basement casinos spring up — only in more interesting ways! Relatedly, Ginko Financial, a SL virtual bank, is “in crisis” because customers panicked and attempted to withdraw more funds than the bank had available, forcing it to cap withdrawals. Law & economics professors, have fun with that one! And lastly, Chris Anderson writes about his decision to abandon SL and quotes some very interesting counter-arguments from Wagner James Au. My favorite Anderson quote:

My feeling is that if you’re going to evoke real world conceits such as “places” that you “go to”, then you’ve got to deal with real world expectations of those places. We don’t like like empty buildings in RL; why should be more tolerant of them in SL?

Favorite Au quote:

My Second Life blog is only one among several high-profile SL-centric blogs. Weblogs Inc.’s secondlifeinsider.com, 3pointd.com, and secondlifeherald.com are also in the Technorati Top 5000; Linden Lab’s official SL blog is in the top 1500. (That’s not even mentioning influential blogs like Boing Boing and Terra Nova which often blog about SL activity and content, or celeb bloggers like Larry Lessig and Joi Ito, who visit SL semi-regularly and write about it.) Then there’s the vast ecosystem of SL blogs, 3rd party sites and bulletin boards, podcasts, social network groups, and machinima videos which number in the thousands. (YouTube alone has 5000+ videos tagged with “Second Life”; the top 20 have been viewed over 3 million times.) This is the network of activity you’re promoting your appearance to, not just the 40,000 Residents who happen to be in-world at any given time.

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