Tuesday, March 11, 2008



So, we've been hearing all week about how alternate reality gaming is one of many new ways to engage an audience with your brand and tell them a story they can get into. Tonight we saw a really interesting film that sheds light on a section of this audience, hardcore MMORPG players. Consisting of hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe, these communities play games like World of Warcraft, Everquest and participate in Second Life on a whole new level. It was truly fascinating to hear these people talk about how they preferred their online friends to their real friends, and in most cases their online identities than themselves. Of course it was loaded with the expected nerdy twentysomething males who live together and play these games 18 hours a day. But it also told stories of people who had found true love, or what some thought of as true love, through hundreds of hours role playing in an alternate universe online. It also touch on a few tragic situations, like a man in Philadelphia who got so caught up in these games he lost his business, house, everything, which sparked him to enter a rehab facility for gamers.....yes, they exist. In fact there is a whole medical society designed around the effects these games can have on people.
It also made a huge case for why these games can be good. They introduced several examples of severely handicapped people who had blossomed and found a reason to live through online identities. They talked about the hope and confidence these games gave them. People who could suddenly walk and talk and be know only for what they created themselves to be in the game and not their affliction in the real world.
In the end the film was really about individuals and the choices they make based on their perceptions of themselves. And how society can sometimes drive these people to want to "escape" through these games because of the way they are treated or looked down upon, but that ultimately it is the individuals responsibility for making the decision to participate in life, and not live through these games.
Don't blame the game, blame the gamer.

1 comment:

Mark Lewis said...

Sounds like a good panel.

It's easy to write off gaming as the activity fo a select few bu casual gaming is huge among the oddest audiences e.g. Moms (something we found out while doing media research for Munchkin).

I think it is worth differentiating between Second Life and WoW and games of that ilk. Second Life is a lifestyle and alternative identity development "thing" that a lot fo people try and leaved - few tend to stay and really exploit it. WoW seems more of a game and demonstartes the power of interactive gameplay as a way for rbands to tell stories.

That being saidf, the whole multiple consumer identity phenom has been around fro a while and keeps getting stronger and stronger.