Ready Player One and Us

My brother Erik gave me a copy of the novel Ready Player One for my birthday back in June, and since it’s his birthday today, thought I would wish him happy birthday and thank him for that trip down memory lane.  So much of our early days were spent in these fantasy worlds.  I remember picking up copies of the super-sized Fantastic Four and The Hulk at the PX on the army base in Germany, and later moving on to Weird War and Sgt. Rock, Tales of Mystery, and Tales from the Crypt .  Erik kept up with everything too, and made the great discovery of The X-Men (I think we were both in love with Jean Grey there for awhile) and The Micronauts when we had moved back to California.  We started out, probably with Raggedy Andy and later The Magical Land of Noom books, but later of course on to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, along with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and later, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and ultimately Dungeons & Dragons up through a good chunk of the Dragonlance series.  We were both hooked in our own ways on these worlds, me more in the tabletop realm, and Erik taking to video games like a fish to water.  It seems we were in great company, though, but books like Ready Player One, amazing in its own delving into video game lore, only scratched the surface of all the stuff we were interested in.

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J.J. Abrams and the Future of Star Wars

Thought I’d take a break from the MMO world this week and talk a little bit about the whirlwind of changes with the Star Wars franchise. For those who haven’t been watching all things Star Wars, the big news is that George Lucas has sold all the rights for Star Wars to Disney Studios, and has bowed out of making any future movies, serving only as a consultant. Add to that news that Disney will produce a new Star Wars movie (set after the original series) which will appear sometime in 2015, and that J.J. Abrams will be directing. For those who don’t know J.J. Abrams, he produced the Lost television series, the Goonies throwback Super 8, and the 2009 Star Trek reboot. He’s produced a ton of SF television, including Felicity, Fringe, and recently, Revolution (the one about the power going out).

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The “Real Player” Jungle

A recent article in the New York Times came out talking about sexual harassment in gaming, and it reminded me of the many types of people I have run into during MMO sessions.  Some of the pick-up groups (PUGs) I’ve joined have been some of the most fun I’ve had in games; others have been a nightmare out of Lord of the Flies, with people threatening and cursing at each other throughout an entire dungeon run.  There’s generally nothing in-game indicating to other players the age or personal information about a player behind an avatar, so players are generally left to deal with these situations on their own.  That said, there are tools in game that allow players to ban a particular player from chat, and to vote to boot a person from the group.  The most extreme forms can reported to an in-game referee, but it’s a rare case where that happens, and rarer still for corrective action to be taken against the offending player(s) – gaming companies, after all, are interested in keeping their paying subscribers.

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