Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Felicia Day Homage with Felice Adae

The masters of homage, those clever designers for Sony's EverQuest II, have homage for just about everything, including actress Felicia Day, who is present in EQII via the NPC Felice Adae. The names are phonetically similar, and both are white women with reddish hair. (Of course the whole idea of "white" in EQII... well, there's no Europe, and in the real world that's where a lot of white people are from, right?) The EQII version is an elf, I think (observe the ears) or a half-elf according to the wiki, but Ms. Day has also played an elf (well at least in these photos).

Why is this blog-worthy? Well, I can do a photo, and visuals are good for blog entries. And, EQII and Ms. Day are very internet-relevant topics. But it's a nice clear homage, something I've covered before. It's one thing to say how there is a ton of homage in games (games are playful, homage is playful), but for a more emotional impact I have to show it's true, and this is a great example. Ms. Day has also done some awesome MMO acting work, EQII is an MMO, and the homage is a nice way to give her some in-game credit.

While nosing around the net to see who else has pointed this out (since it is from the second-most recent expansion, it's not new), I found yet another homage in EQII, this time to the awesome show Mythbusters. (I keep trying to get a picture of the Love Boat homage since it really doesn't belong in EQII, but I missed it last time and it doesn't occur every time you walk by the character in question. If I do finally get it, I'll post it.)

Edit: Kotaku just came out with an article, Felicia Day is Just What Gaming Needs. Timely.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Professors as Comedians

Professors and comedians have a lot in common. When I was young, a slightly older friend of mine was starting on what would be a successful career as a comedian. I realized that I learned a lot from watching his shows, especially about audience engagement, the use of personal stories, narrative, and humility in front of an audience.

It's your jobYesYes
Live audienceYesYes
You have a narrative you want them to followYesYes
Need audience engagementYesYes
They're judging youYesYes
They're paying for itYesYes
They expect their money's worthYesYes

Thursday, September 22, 2011


When you read "MMO" in the headline, did you know what it meant? Or did you think it could refer to two different things and you weren't sure which one it was? No, you knew it meant "massively multiplayer online role playing game." That's why it's MMO, not MMORPG or even MMOG.

There are actually three reasons why it is MMO:

  1. There aren't any other "MMOs", so "MMO" is clear.
  2. "MMO" is consistent with the MMO-predecessors, MUDs and MOOs (text based, multiplayer but not massively so, and role playing or not).
  3. "MMO" is also consistent with the TLA standard (three letter acronym) from computer science.
So, if you don't use MMO and instead use MMORPG, it tells me that you probably don't know much about computer science, don't care about previous forms of online spaces, and you like to write like it's the 1980s and every computer referent has to be written in lengthy, all-caps words, like say COMPUSERVE there I look like an idiot now don't I? That's what you look like when you write MMORPG!

And, truth be told, MMORPGs (I did it for a reason there) aren't very RPG-ish anyways. People don't play roles so much as do what they want. Sure, maybe in WoW or EQII you're a healer or a tank. Healer and tank do fit one definition of "role", but not really in any deep way. "RPG" has mostly come to mean "a fantasy game like Dungeons & Dragons, with elves and mages and such," and really has very little to do with roles as played necessities. Second Life is far more about playing roles (if you want it to be) than any MMO that I am aware of, even though Second Life is not a game, although its sandbox approach allows for people to play games in it (just like a sandbox).

Edit: Apparently this bothers me so much I wrote about it last year, but it's too annoying to keep in mind. Maybe it will become an annual rant.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inconsistent Interfaces

Apple, which is usually the master of great interfaces, pulled some weird things in the recent upgrade to OSX. The Calendar app lost its metallic look and feel (and I don't like it and it's not consistent with everything else). The Contacts app lost the great letter-tabs that let you jump to a letter (this feature is still present in the iPhone version).

But in Mail they did something I don't understand and have only noticed recently (so I assume it was not like this previously). If you make a new message, some of the buttons (like for attachments) are on the left, whereas if you reply some of those same buttons are on the right. I do a fair amount of attaching, and this is highly annoying since I cannot make a work habit, I have to actively think about it each time.

Here is a reply. Only the Send button is on the left, Attach is on the right.

Here is, as you can see, a new message. Attach is now on the left.

Given there is little difference between a new message and a reply, I cannot see that there is any reason to move the buttons around. (Everything is about design.)

Edit: I remade the images so they fit better. The image/textwrap is killing me, though.

PAX Writeup

A great writeup of PAX by Matthew Baldwin at The Morning News. "PAX Primer", but pre-subtitled "Of Dice and Men" which is pretty funny. A good read (which is why I am mentioning it). I've been to a PAX Prime and a PAX East.

With less than a single lap remaining, Team One encounters a string of disasters: they are struck by lightning; they crash into a wall of fire; and then, perhaps disoriented by this cavalcade of misfortune, they barrel off the road while trying to navigate the final bend.
Hysterical. But the writeup is much more than just about games, just like PAX. Amusingly has a photo a lot like one I took at the last PAX East (since it's a cool photo, the one of the dice for sale).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Iron Crows - Shipbreaking

Modern shipping vessels, ships like oil tankers and container ships, help us live our first-world lives with affordable items. But, like how our modern computers often end up in the third world to be broken apart even with the accompanying health hazards, so too do these massive ships. The breaking apart of these ships is the focus of the documentary Iron Crows (NYT review), a powerful and sad film that could have used a bit more of a guiding hand in terms of narration but is still worth seeing. It takes place in Chittagong, Bangladesh, where the shipbreaking takes place.

What is fascinating, although perhaps not unexpected, is that you can easily see the ships of Chittagong, Bangladesh, in Google Maps. Granted the view will change as Google gets newer images, but for now there they are.

Here is a snippet, from the dozens of ships currently viewable. At the bottom, one that is mostly stern. Top left, perhaps that is for natural gas or something that we like to ship in spheres. Top was a cargo ship, it's huge. Along the shore the ships are more in pieces, further out they've just arrived or were too big to get closer to shore. (I have rotated the image 180 degrees, so although the ships are facing the "wrong" direction the image is less disorienting to view.)

Edit: From my friend Anna, see this photo essay at The Economist.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gotta Catch 'Em All: Pokémon and EQII

Pokémon was such a well-known cultural event (it's a card game, it's a marketing gimmick, it's little animals....) that even South Park based an entire episode on it (season 3 episode 10 and of course you should go watch it now free (legally) online).

So perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised to find that the masters of homage at Sony included it in EverQuest II, since they included dozens and dozens of cultural references in the game. As I've pointed out, this kind of behavior is common human behavior and occurs in a lot of games, not just EQII. (Sony makes an appearance in the South Park episode at about 5:30.)

Although it's been in EQII for a while, there are so many quests in-game and I only just came across it recently. The quest is Grassgalor, a chokidia who eats lots of grass I guess. You have to capture him as he might have lots of powers... or not. But you have to catch him in a little sphere, which you get as the reward--a chokéball, which when activated causes Grasssgalor to appear and follow you around. If you know of Pokémon, you know this is how they work (you contain them in special Poké balls and release them when needed).

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Google H Score, Year 3

This is the third year I've posted my Google H Score, and, my H score is up to five! Yes! My original post about my Google H score (and year 2) that started the whole thing showed that, back then, my G-H Score was 4. Is more still more? Are there hot topics and more-widely cited journals? Do things fade over time? No idea yet. And, hey, my solo score is up to 3.

In order to get to 6, I'll need the Cross National Study... to get to 6, and one of the lesser-cited ones also to get to 6. Tough to do, I think, but there is some solo work out right now (one R&R, one new submission from ICA, and one I'm vetting with a friend which will go out soon) and two co-authored pieces in progress (well they're not progressing while I work on this post...).

Article (short title)JournalAuthor(s)Year200920102011
Mechs of an online public sphere JCMCSolo2005*25*42*51
To broadband or not to... JoBEMCo200491012
Honey, I shrunk the world!MCSCo200681215
Playing Internet curveball...Convergence Solo200671112
A cross-national study...TISSolo2007125
Technology as place(chapter)Co2010--2
Online org... (HICSS) Co 2011 - - 1
Copyright notices...JCMCSolo2008*1*1*1
Global citation patterns...IJoCSolo200900x
Strat and global elite theoryIJoPORCo2009000

Values as of Sept 10th, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

* indicates one self-cite (relevant!).
x = missing from/mis-titled in Google.
Neither self-cite affects the Google H value.
The numbers fluctuate from time to time, which is odd but they do.
HICSS is conference proceedings.