The Beatles game

 Posted by (Visited 5124 times)  Game talk, Music
Oct 302008
 

The news is everywhere: a new Harmonix music game featuring the music of the Beatles. According to People, it specifically will not be a Rock Band title

Whether it will also include the band members’ likenesses is still unclear, although the game will feature different eras of the band’s career visually, starting with the black-and-white feel of the early ’60s, and moving into the mod Rubber Soul years, Yellow Submarine, and their final hippie phase. (No word yet on whether the game will introduce new instruments, but here’s hoping for a plastic sitar.)

Blog downtime

 Posted by (Visited 5530 times)  Open thread  Tagged with:
Oct 292008
 

Apologies for the downtime — looks like I left some stuff incomplete when I did the WordPress upgrade. I think it is fixed now.

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Avatar-the-word

 Posted by (Visited 6448 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , , ,
Oct 292008
 

I turned to F. Randall Farmer, a creator of the online multiplayer game Lucasfilm’s Habitat, for the origins of the term’s current incarnation. He and Chip Morningstar invented the game in 1986, when they also coined avatar in the “online persona” sense (though gamers had already been exposed to the word’s Sanskrit meaning with the 1985 computer role-playing game, Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar.) “Chip came up with the word ‘avatar,’ ” he recounts, “because back then, pre-Internet, you had to call a number with your telephone and then set it back into the cradle. You were reaching out into this game quite literally through a silver strand. The avatar was the incarnation of a deity, the player, in the online world. We liked the idea of the puppet master controlling his puppet, but instead of using strings, he was using a telephone line.”

–On Language – Avatar – NYTimes.com.

Very nice, but — “toon” does not come from Toontown, Randy! I first heard it in connection with Sierra’s The Realm; I remember being slightly confused when some Realm players logged into UO and started talking about how small their toons were.

Most mudders, of course, referred to this as a “character,” taken from D&D, and that carried through into UO, since we were mostly mudder types. But to my mind, both the avatar and the character are the same sort of thing — a graphical version of what we tend to call a profile in a broader web sense. Be it icon, textual description, or a/s/l, it’s just identifying information.

It may be that Second Life is indeed why “avatar” is so widespread today, though I would be just as likely to give the credit to Snow Crasha major inspiration to many of the virtual worlds of the 90s. There were bokos and conferences called “avatar” during this time period. Snow Crash frequently got mistaken credit for the coinage.

Another minor sidelight: a few years ago, the Oxford English Dictionary was running a project on finding the earliest citations of science-fictional words, and I did manage to get Chip & Randy proper credit. 🙂