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Max Payne 3 on its way….

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When I’m feeling a little blue as I have been lately my wife usually suggests that its time that I went and blow something up and kill people. Not in real life mind you, in the virtual world courtesy of the PS3 because there is no doubt that it is very cathartic to do in the imagination that which you will never be able to do in real life. It is also a little more engaging than DVDs and a great deal better than day time TV. I have however felt a rather uninterested in playing the games that I have at present and a couple of “cheapies ” that I bought have been disappointing so I am pinning my hopes upon this new game form Rockstar to give me the distraction that I sort of need at present. It promises to have the realism that I really enjoy in Rockstar games with gorgeously rendered environments and realistic character movement.

Any way counting down the days until the 18th when my copy will arrive from the UK…

Cheers Comrades

Second Life, on life support?

You just can’t be interested in modern life and ignore the social networking media that is so important to the way that individuals interact in a connected world. Heck even I have a presence on most of the common platforms, My Space, twitter and Facebook but I never embraced Second Life, I was intensely suspicious of a platform that requires users to pay to play.

The Maldives were the first to open a virtual embassy in 2007

A year later, newspapers fell over themselves to cover it, devoting many column inches in their business, technology and lifestyle sections to profiles and trend pieces. By the end of 2007 Second Life had secured more than 600 mentions in UK newspapers and magazines, according to the media database Lexis Nexis.

IBM bought property in 2006, American Apparel opened a shop the same summer, Reuters installed avatar journalist Adam Pasick – also known as Adam Reuters – to report on virtual happenings, and countries established virtual embassies.

The number of people joining the site jumped from 450,000 to four million in 2007.

But just as quickly as it had flared, media interest ebbed away. References plummeted by 40% in 2008 and dropped further this year. And businesses diverted their resources back to real life.

My daughter likes Runescape which allows its users to make their avatar as unique as they are in Second Life but that game can be played for free. My initial thoughts on the second life concept was that it would be like the virtual reality games postulated in science fiction and I thought of the spoof of such games on Red Dwarf:

Part two

Part three

Of course it is by no stretch of the imagination as interactive or user friendly as “Better than life” on Red Dwarf and that has to be the other reason that so many people find the concept intriguing but the actuality disappointing.  the social networking platforms that truly work for their users are the simple ones that meet the expectations of their subscribers and while no one can begrudge  the creators of  these platforms the right to make a quid from their idea no one likes to pay for something that does not live up to its hype.


I’ll stick to blogging and “icing” opponents on Facebook’s   “Mafia Wars” because the former satisfies my need to discuss and argue about the issues of the day and the later because it satisfies my inner mobster.

Capiche Comrades?


Virtual Terrorists

 In SL people create their own characters, known as avatars, and live an alternative life, buying goods, real estate and living in a community of more than eight million people from across the world. They go about their lives, attending concerts and seminars, building businesses and socialising.

On the darker side, there are also weapons armouries in SL where people can get access to guns, including automatic weapons and AK47s. Searches of the SL website show there are three jihadi terrorists registered and two elite jihadist terrorist groups.

Once these groups take up residence in SL, it is easy to start spreading propaganda, recruiting and instructing like minds on how to start terrorist cells and carry out jihad.

One radical group, called Second Life Liberation Army, has been responsible for some computer-coded atomic bombings of virtual world stores in the past six months.

(The Australian)

This is a worrying development but perhaps some of those who are so keen on first person shooter style games should do some good and go into “Second Life” and root out these virtual Jihadists…

Blog of the month nominations/0pen thread

It is nearly June and I want to find a blog that is worthy of being my blog of the month so I thought that I would ask you, my dear readers, for nominations. The blog can have any topic or focus as long as it is interesting and well written. I will even consider blogs with leftist political leanings if they are good enough.

Failing any ideas for blog of the month please feel free to comment on any topic that takes your fancy, except Moi.

I have a very busy day ahead what with Gym classes for daughter number one, a visit to the library, a session on the bench grinder to make some suspension components for my sports car and playing genial host for a musical afternoon; it is going to be all go here today.



Artificial reality, “Second Life” and Tabletops

In my youth I was an avid reader of speculative and science fiction and one of the stories that struck a cord with me was Fredric Phol’s “The tunnel under the world”(synopsis) written in 1954 long before the advent of the PC or any concept of artificial reality.

The story is really a vehicle to explore the manipulation of a population by advertisers and propagandists who have recreated an entire city in miniature upon a table top. Thus they can test out different advertising strategies and even political campaigns without having to do so on real people.

I read this Novella and it sent a chill down my spine and spoke so eloquently to the question the nature of humanity; If a simulant is sentient enough to believe it is a real person Is he real? The ending had me wondering about the dichotomy between knowing the nature of the universe and the comfort of ignorance.

Subsequent to this story there have been many further explorations of the Artificial Reality in print, in film, and on television The writing of Philip K Dick and William Gibson and the simulations of Star Trek’s Hollodeck all owe a debt to Fred Phol’s story and I suppose that “Second Life” does as well. This online world is becoming more and more like the real world. With its own currency, sex, deviance, drugs and now politics.

That avatars act just like humans is not surprising to Yee: “It’s hard to forget or ignore the norms that we have used every day in the physical world since we were born,” he says. “These social norms help guide and sustain interaction.”

This could be why the Second Life population models itself on real society. Behind every furry, flying or androgynous avatar is a player made of flesh and blood, whose preconceptions have been formed by his or her real life environment. Another Second Life expert, the French blogger Loic Le Mer, put it this way: “If you have a stupid player who creates an avatar, that avatar won’t be smart just because it’s a digital creature.”

In any case, the similarity in avatar and human behavior is likely to increase even further in the future. American company Vivox announced on Tuesday that it was developing a voice program for Second Life which will enable avatars to speak with each other — and even overhear other avatar’s conversations.(source)

How long will it be before we have people who begin to live for the time spent in on this tabletop rather than living in real life?

How long until there are people who think that the simulated existence is superior to the real?

Nonetheless I am fascinated by such simulations and the creation of artificial realities but is that not the case for everyone who has even written a story or even a humble blog post?

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