Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Boredom and Violence in Google Lively

Nothing to do here; I don't think I'll come back.

-A visitor to a Google Lively room

In Fahad Manjoo, "Even Lamer Than Second Life," Slate, July 27, 2008

Farhad Manjoo points out that while online digital worlds such as Second Life and The Sims Online have received a lot of notice in the press, "none of these virtual worlds has managed to gain mainstream appeal." In fact, Electronic Arts was due to close down Sims Online at the end of July, 2008. Manjoo is sure that Google Lively, an online digital world launched in early July, will also fail. Apart from technical problems, Majoo simply found nothing to do there. That, he says, has bred mindless violence among those who stay. "Like prisoners in solitary, everyone here keeps lamenting that they've got nothing to do. It's no wonder people turn to violence. Among the actions Lively allows you to perform on others are body-slam, kick, kung fu, punch, slap, and squash. True, there's also kiss and hug, but boredom doesn't inspire generosity of spirit."

More generally, Manjoo argues virtual worlds haven't yet taken because most people don't like to simply talk to strangers. People will throng to multiplayer games like World of Warcraft to challenge others and sometimes engage in social small talk with them outside the game. Small-talk alone is not enough to keep people, he argues, and virtual worlds so far haven't found enough attractions beyond that.

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