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About this Author
Andrew Phelps Andrew Phelps is an assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, in Rochester, NY. He is the founding faculty member of the Game Programming Concentration within the Department of Information Technology and his work in games programming education has been featured in The New York Times, CNN.com, USA Today, National Public Radio, and other publications. Email: amp-at-it.rit.edu
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September 27, 2004

Where is my news?

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Posted by Andrew Phelps

You see, gaming to me is escapism. Pure and simple. I dig in deep to the idea of alternate reality, and immerse myself in the worlds in which I play. Currently, I am immersed in the world of Norrath, in which Everquest resides, as well as several others. I'm going to use Norrath as an example, but this is applicable to any online persistent world, and in fact to the idea of a set of worlds that people are connected to.

This is my desire:

"The Bazaar reports today that stocks are once again down, with bulk trading up 5% from yesterday as more goods from the lands of Discord continue to flood the market, devaluing existing industries in Kaladim and the Kunark Collective Enterprises. A spokesman for the Freeport Trader's Alliance could not be reached for comment, although a preliminary stakeholder's report is due out before the end of the day."

"In other news, the Rathe Council today authorized full use of military force in retaliation for what it claims is an unprovoked attack on the Plane of Earth by the spawn of Veeshan. Several dragons were seen in the viscinity late last night, and this morning there are substantial questions about a very large glowing orb in the midst of the Plain of Mud. Representatives from the Sleeper had no comment other than to deny any involvement in the attack, pointing to the long-standing truce between Dragons and Gods. Direct questions regarding dragon sightings and rumors of a secret alliance with the Dark-Elves went unawnsered."

The thing is, I don't want this as fan-fiction or some in-game talking head. I want this on my television. I want it in a ticker at the bottom of CNN, right with the rest of my daily news intake. I care about events in that world a great deal. Probably not as much as "real news" like Iraq and the 2004 election, but since I only have about an hour to get all my news in anyway, I'd like it all at once thank you very much.

Fan sites have been doing this for years. I want a recognized voice of journalism reporting on the world I love. I want to know what is happening there, a news stream not biased by guild affiliations and racial divides (those Dwarves do hate the Elves...). [ I also have a dirty desire to see a "Talking Points Memo" from an orc henchman. ]

Part of this is in jest, but I am being mostly serious. I feel I can no longer keep up with my worlds. I need help. I need news. In much the same way that the real news connects us to the rest of the world (albiet with much bias and error), my sphere of interest in my fantasy worlds have grown beyond what I am capable of personally absorbing. Once-a-month fan fiction isn't going to do it, there is no reliability in guild websites, and there is no public voice.

IGN and the various news sites report *about* the game - add-ons, additions, developer issues, etc. I want something from IN the game, that says 'this is happening, these are the major events, etc. etc.' Daily. Hourly. On an RSS feed or something. I'd sign up in a second if I could get a 'Norrath Ticker' on the bottom of my TV that read ''ALERT: hot new XP area discovered by brave adventurers, somewhere south of the Muramite Proving Grounds... Quarm loot dropping off fire beetles in the Northern Desert of Ro, log on now!!'

So I'm waiting. I'm waiting even further for someone to bind all this up into a daily game-news network with reporting from all the worlds online. I'd watch that channel, right along side CNN / MSNBC / FOX. I can think of very few things I'd currently enjoy more. Come home, eat dinner, play with baby, watch the "news" for a half hour, then hop into the world that had the most interesting day.

"This is Tanthalos Sillandor signing off for the Norrath News Network. Don't miss our special in-depth coverage of the Qeynos Election, as we interview each candidate about the issues you care about. Until tomorrow - TS."

Comments (1) | Category:


COMMENTS

1. Jay on September 29, 2004 1:55 AM writes...

Fantastic. The scenario you painted is perfectly plausible, if taken seriously, and might even become a marketing tool that gives one world an edge over the competition.

Imagine: news hunters, employed by one of these persistent online world providers, scanning the daily activity logs for news worthy events. Several are selected for which 'authentic' news stories are composed. Using actual usernames and details extracted from the logs—embellished with drama, of course—the stories would become available as an RSS feed for all to read.

I believe there are those who long to be famous in this world, and it is no different in the fantasy worlds. Making it on the evening news is one way to claim ones fame. And even though you may have been kidding, the idea isn't that far-fetched at all. Nice post.

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