Periodically I have gotten requests for either audio or video of the talk I gave at Living Game Worlds IV back in 2008. I have the slides, but they aren’t even posted up here, and honestly, without the actual talk, they don’t make much sense.
My talk was complex. I just watched it, and honestly did not remember it all; how it came together linking railroad yards, the first major copyright case, Kenyan mobile phone companies, Wagnerian opera, text muds, shipping containers, molecular biology, microtransactions, and of course, the future of games. But yeah, it hit on all that and more.
It still feels rather relevant today, even if my ending on Metaplace doesn’t. In many ways, what I was talking about has come true via indie games, Unity, Twine, Gamemaker, and countless other “banjos.” In fact, I am particularly hopeful that it will be watched by those who see me as a ludological fundamentalist or representative of “the old guard” or whatever, as there is a moment in there where I jeer at Game Informer magazine for the ludicrous term “impostor games” they used for games that were not challenge-based. FWIW, I also bluntly call MMOs colonialist and racist at one point.
LGW4 was notable particularly for virtual worlds enthusiasts because it was the first time that pioneers Richard Bartle, Randy Farmer, and Pavel Curtis were all in the same place at the same time. There were talks about where they were going, and where games in general were going, and there were talks about the past. In retrospect it was, of course, a cusp, an inflection.
For those many many people who have wondered why I did Metaplace, what Metaplace was about, what it was for, this is probably going to stand as the best long-form answer I can give. It isn’t adequate in a bunch of ways, but there you go. I hope those MP players who watch this get a little thrill of nostalgia from seeing their worlds screenshotted and shared with everyone.
Of course, these days I am already wondering where the brief folk revival is over, so to speak, as distribution channels are choking up and we’re down just a few “major labels” — PSN, Steam, App Store… budgets are rising and glossy production and scale are slowly but surely taking over.
If you wander through the other videos, I highly recommend the Pioneers Panel. It was great fun and highly illuminating. Related, another gem that popped up at that conference: the original promo video for Habitat.
Special thanks to Ian Bogost and the various folks at Georgia Tech who helped find these and get them back online, out of order in their archiving and clean-up project.