21 October 2010

Differences between VW and MMOG

7 grad students met in a room and tried to grasp the differences between VW and MMOG.

We defined VW as massively multiuser virtual environments (MMVE). Examples: Second Life is a VW, but Super Mario Galaxy 2 is not. VW are free-form, open-ended, they allow more UGC than MMOG. In VW, UGC is expected and tools are given to users so that they can create content. In MMOG, new content comes from developer updates and expansions. Somehow, we managed to scratch the surface of the ludic-to-paidaic axis that Pearce talks about.

Then someone mentioned MineCraft. MineCraft has 2 different gameplay versions. In the "Classic" mode, players can only remove from or add to the world textured cubes of virtual matter. In the "Alpha" mode, monsters and zombies wander in the open world and players have health points (and can die). Hence, Classic would be a (sandbox) VW while the multiplayer Alpha would be considered an MMOG.

MMOG development studios want to provide the exact game they have playtested to their players. The virtual world is, somehow, protected: players are not allowed to modify it. Hence UGC is client-side only (eg UI add-ons for WoW). However, Game Masters can bring new and refreshing entertainment during live events such as summoning a demon in Stormwind, the Human capital city in WoW. While these events do not happen often in MMOG, they are inexistent in VW. Somehow, Game Masters could evolve into "dynamic" game designers, while traditional current game design would be considered "static".

20 October 2010

List of conferences and journals

Based on the ACM library and several links, here is a list of current conferences, workshops and journals dealing with games. It is not totally complete, but covers a wide spectrum: from software engineering, databases and networking (tech) to game design (GD), sociology and anthropology (soc), game studies and humanities (hum), and arts (art). Also, some acceptance rates have been collected by professors for the areas of computational intelligence, networking, software engineering and database.

NameFull nameRateDomainNotesSociety
DIMEADigital Interactive Media in Entertainment and Arts -tech2008, incorporated into ACE-
DISIODIstributed SImulation & Online gaming-techworkshopICST
FSEFoundations of Software Engineering18%techalso named SIGSOFTACM
GDCGame Developer Conference-tech|GDindustry-orientedGDC
GlobeInternational Conference on Data Management in Grid and P2P Systems-tech--
ICSEInternational Conference on Software Engineering14%tech-ACM/IEEE
IJCGTInternational Journal of Computer Games Technology-tech-Hindawi
IMSAAInternet Multimedia Systems Architecture and Applications-tech-IEEE
MMVEMassively Multiuser Virtual Environments-techworkshopACM
MMTAMultimedia Tools and Applications-tech2010, online journalSpringer
NetGamesNetGames40%tech2008, 2009, 2010ACM
NIMENetworking Issues in Multimedia Entertainment-techworkshopIEEE
NSDIUSENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design & Implementation19%techpart of SIGCOMMACM
OOPSLArenamed into SPLASH27%techsee SPLASHACM
P2PPeer-to-Peer (IEEE)20%tech2008, 2009IEEE
P2PNVEPeer-to-Peer Network Virtual Environments-tech2008, 2009-
NOSSDAVNetwork and Operating System Support for Digital Audio and Video37%techworkshop, paper listACM
SIGCOMMSpecial Interest Group on Data Communication10%techpaper listACM
SIGMMSIGMM conference on Multimedia systems17%tech-ACM
SIGMODSpecial Interest Group on Management Of Data20%tech-ACM
SPLASHSystems, Programming, Languages and Applications: Software for Humanity27%techused to be OOPSLAACM
TCIAIGTransactions on Computational Intelligence and AI in Games-tech-IEEE
TOMCAPTransactions on Multimedia Computing, Communications and Applications-tech-ACM
TOITTransactions on Internet Technology-tech-ACM
TOSEMTransactions on Software Engineering and Methodology-tech-ACM
VLDBVery Large DataBase-techarchivesACM
VRCAIVirtual-Reality Continuum and its Applications in Industry-tech-ACM
NameFull nameRateDomainNotesSociety
ACEAdvances in Computer Entertainment Technology-tech|socconference that gets published in CIE, EntCom and IJART
incorporates NetGames and DIMEA
2007, 2008, 2010
CIEComputers in Entertainment-tech|socjournal, paper listACM
CIGComputational intelligence and games49%tech2010IEEE
EntComEntertainment computing-tech|socjournalElsevier
FAGFun and Games36%tech|soc|GDbiannualACM
FDGFoundations for Digital Games FDG30%tech|soc|GDconference and workshop papersACM
GICGames Innovations Conference-tech|socpapersIEEE
IGICInternational Games Innovation Conferencetech|soc|GDIEEE
ITSInternet Technologies & Society-tech|soc-IADIS
VRVirtual Reality-tech|soc-IEEE
NameFull nameRateDomainNotesSociety
DiGRADigital Games Research Association-soc|hum|GDlibrary, biannual?DiGRA
EludamosEludamos, Journal for Computer Game Culture-soc|humonline journal, biannual-
FMFirst Monday-soconline journalself-pub
GACGames And Culture-soc|humonline journal, long review processSagePub
Game studiesthe international journal of computer game research-soc|GDonline journal, once or twice issues per year-
IJARTInternational Journal of Arts and Technology-art-Inderscience
JGVWJournal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds-soconline journalIntellect
JVWRJournal of Virtual World Research-soconline journalself-pub
LoadingLoading... the Journal of the Canadian Games Studies-soc|hum|GDonline journal-
SAGSimulation and Gaming-soconline journalSagePub

05 October 2010

[Conf] Notes from an NSF workshop about CGVW

This workshop focused on computer games and virtual worlds (CGVW) and gathered researchers in the STEM field and arts.

Notable positions

Some interesting points from position speakers.

Speaker Desc.
Boellstorff WoW is not overstudied, but there is a hype cycle. Making a distinction between computer games and virtual worlds. Impossible to research the future.
Hayes Learning is part problem solving (provided by current computer games) and part sociocultural (provided by multiuser virtual worlds).
Kesselman WoW is not revolutionary, it is just polish and history. Limited resources for many players is a bad game mechanic, it is frustrating.
Wright There are few social theories/framwework to explain why VW are so popular. It may be worth studying the impact of CGVW software on exclusion, relations between children and adults, cooperation and conflicts between players, and the reproduction of real-life social inequities in CGVW.
White Scripting languages can be used by professional game designers; in that case, it is pre-architected. If it is UGC, it is certainly buggy and possibly harmful. In some cases, the system limits the design (ex: 8bit consoles, Racing the Beam from Bogost) but in others, current designs do not yet use the full potential of the systems on which they are built (ex: augmented reality is still nascent).
Wardrip-Fruin Close-reading (in media studies) goes hand-in-hand with rapid and agile prototyping.

Working Groups

I found the 6 working groups to reflect well the domains currently implied in CGVW research. Here they are, taken from the workshop slides.

Title Desc.
Advanced GGVW Technologies AI, scripting, narrative and emergent systems, procedural and non-procedural content generation, avatar generation and customization, world building kits, etc.
Anthropological, Behavioral, Sociological Studies of CGVW ethnographic studies of CGVW, work-versus-play or work-as-play or play-as-work, patterns of migration across CGVW, CGVW in complex enterprise settings, research methods for studying CGVW,
CGVW for Science, Health, Environment, Energy, Defense CGVW as research tools or infrastructure for R&D in other scientific, industrial, or government domains, etc.
Education and Learning with CGVW how CGVW facilitate or inhibit learning in formal or informal education settings, play as learning, CGVW for STEM and Humanities learning, etc.
CGVW Systems Technologies multi-core and many core processors, computer graphics hardware and software, networking, databases, language design, sensors, etc.
Media, History, Culture and Art of CGVW CGVW as media, art, literature and expressive forms of social critique; new literacies, creativity with or through CGVW, etc.