China Struggles to Evolve in the Age of Online Gaming

Worldofwarcraft_chinaChina is an interesting case, a society where strict cultural censorship gives way to a vibrant community of online gamers. But this online freedom only exists up to a point, as both Google and World of Warcraft can attest.

China's educated middle and upper classes are voracious online gamers, and many are unhappy with several proposed changes to the popular Chinese online game "Legend." This caps off a tumultuous few months for a Chinese government struggling to come to terms with the emergence of virtual worlds.

Let's take a look at why some Chinese gamers are staging virtual world protests, and why the Chinese government is moving to shut down offending servers in a bid to control the potential threat of unchained protest.

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Is the Metaverse Falling Victim to Large Platform Monopolies?

6a0120a51c39be970b0120a597d2b4970b-800wi There's no denying it – despite a worldwide consumer recession and spiking unemployment, virtual worlds are still growing with impressive speed.

A report by the Virtual Goods Summit shows that purchases of virtual clothing, weapons, and accessories will top $1 billion for the first time, and will nearly double to $1.6 billion by 2010.

There's only one thing missing: competition..

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Thinking Virtually: Helping Companies Succeed in Marketing to the Metaverse

 

From Audi
digitally marketing their new electric car
to a slew of virtual
reality themed Hollywood blockbusters
, focusing on virtual worlds as a
potential revenue source is all the rage. But as companies have repeatedly shown by high-publicity failures, marketing in the virtual world is a tricky proposition.

Pixels and Policy looks at how to effectively market products to eager eyes in the Metaverse.

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Media Hype Could Permanently Damage Augmented Reality

6a00d8341bf7f753ef01157203c76e970b-800wi The media appears quite smitten with augmented reality technology, the webcam-based tool that allows graphical, interactive overlays to be placed over most objects sporting a special bar code.

The problem is, excessive media hype could end up damaging augmented reality's much-needed development, turning a possibly great future product into a barely useful current one.

Let's look at why augmented reality is a promising technology almost certain to underwhelm, especially after the hype treatment heaped on its promise by the mainstream medi


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The Growth of Cybercrime and Cybercrime Prevention in Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds are no longer the backwater playgrounds of a few computer-adept programmers. They are multi-billion dollar worldwide industries spanning the fields of entertainment, communications, information technology, and increasingly law enforcement. In short, there's money to be made, and with an expansive, loosely-regulated product like virtual worlds comes the potential for cybercrime.

I wrote several months ago about how law enforcement agencies are increasingly turning to virtual world account information to provide breaks in real-world legal cases, but what about crimes committed entirely within a virtual sphere?

Several news outlets from around the world are increasingly looking at what is required to secure a profitable industry from brazen exploitation by scammers, money launderers, and cyberpirates. Regulators are calling for cybercrime task forces within physical police departments. The frontier of virtual worlds seems poised to get some new lawmen.

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Could Standardizing Virtual Worlds Turn Off Consumers?

3059934552_c9b5be27d9 One of the major impediments to widespread use of virtual worlds is standardization. What virtual worlds need for mainstream success, the theory goes, is unification across platforms.

One article argues that this means the ability to carry one avatar between worlds.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at why consumers may not stomach the shift.

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Virtual Voices: Why Americans Need Online Voting

Pict_20090210PHT48991We’ve talked about how campaigns are changing to accommodate
both
a virtual presence
in games like Second Life and a real-world campaign
office.

We’ve talked about how government is increasingly involving itself in
virtual worlds as cheap, effective means of spreading information.

But what about the voter? When does the ballot box move online? Pixels and Policy explores the technological problems and hard work needed to bring online voting to America.

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Developers Should Open Virtual Goods Markets

Gamestop-sign We recently wrote that developers were fighting a failing battle by trying to restrict secondary virtual goods markets through tools such as account banning and eliminating in-game trade.

Now an article published by the CIOL Network seems to agree: Fighting the market in in-game goods will not only ruin the experience for honest players, it won't work.

Pixels and Policy takes a look at what CIOL recommends, and whether or not their recommendation could soon come true.

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Manual Labor in Virtual Worlds: How Fair Are In-Game Auction Houses?

One of the most frustrating times in an MMORPG player's digital life is "grinding" for experience to attain a game's highest levels. This often entails killing hundreds – if not thousands – of enemies over the course of days and weeks to obtain a small advance in the character's level and vital statistics.

But what happens when in-world auction houses like those in World of Warcraft, EVE Online and other games allow time-strapped players to contract out portions of quests to be completed by others in exchange for money?

Pixels and Policy looks at some interesting emerging research on the subject.

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South Korea’s Supreme Court Decriminalizes Real Money Transactions in Online Games

As many unlucky MMORPG players can attest, most subscription-based online games come down hard on players caught purchasing in-game currencies with real money. World of Warcraft bans players caught buying game gold, and and Everquest does much the same.

Now a new legal decision by South Korea's Supreme Court could be changing the balance of power decisively in favor of consumers.

Pixels and Policy investigates.

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