From EverQuest to World of Warcraft, online games have evolved from the exclusive domain of computer geeks into an extraordinarily lucrative staple of the entertainment industry. People of all ages and from all walks of life now spend thousands of hours—and dollars—partaking in this popular new brand of escapism. But the line between fantasy and reality is starting to blur. Players have created virtual societies with governments and economies of their own whose currencies now trade against the dollar on eBay at rates higher than the yen. And the players who inhabit these synthetic worlds are starting to spend more time online than at their day jobs. In Synthetic Worlds, Edward Castronova offers the first comprehensive look at the online game industry, exploring its implications for business and culture alike. He starts with the players, giving us a revealing look into the everyday lives of the gamers—outlining what they do in their synthetic worlds and why. He then describes the economies inside these worlds to show how they might dramatically affect real world financial systems, from potential disruptions of markets to new business horizons. Ultimately, he explores the long-term social consequences of online games: If players can inhabit worlds that are more alluring and gratifying than reality, then how can the real world ever compete? Will a day ever come when we spend more time in these synthetic worlds than in our own? Or even more startling, will a day ever come when such questions no longer sound alarmist but instead seem obsolete? With more than ten million active players worldwide—and with Microsoft and Sony pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into video game development—online games have become too big to ignore. Synthetic Worlds spearheads our efforts to come to terms with this virtual reality and its concrete effects. “Illuminating. . . . Castronova’s analysis of the economics of fun is intriguing. Virtual-world economies are designed to make the resulting game interesting and enjoyable for their inhabitants. Many games follow a rags-to-riches storyline, for example. But how can all the players end up in the top 10%? Simple: the upwardly mobile human players need only be a subset of the world's population. An underclass of computer-controlled 'bot' citizens, meanwhile, stays poor forever. Mr. Castronova explains all this with clarity, wit, and a merciful lack of academic jargon.”—The Economist “Synthetic Worlds is a surprisingly profound book about the social, political, and economic issues arising from the emergence of vast multiplayer games on the Internet. What Castronova has realized is that these games, where players contribute considerable labor in exchange for things they value, are not merely like real economies, they are real economies, displaying inflation, fraud, Chinese sweatshops, and some surprising in-game innovations.”—Tim Harford, Chronicle of Higher Education
This revealing study considers the remarkable alliance between chemistry and art from the late eighteenth century to the period immediately following the Second World War. Synthetic Worlds offers fascinating new insights into the place of the material object and the significance of the natural, the organic, and the inorganic in Western aesthetics. Esther Leslie considers how radical innovations in chemistry confounded earlier alchemical and Romantic philosophies of science and nature while profoundly influencing the theories that developed in their wake. She also explores how advances in chemical engineering provided visual artists with new colors, surfaces, coatings, and textures, thus dramatically recasting the way painters approached their work. Ranging from Goethe to Hegel, Blake to the Bauhaus, Synthetic Worlds ultimately considers the astonishing affinities between chemistry and aesthetics more generally. As in science, progress in the arts is always assured, because the impulse to discover is as immutable and timeless as the drive to create.
Virtual environments (VE) are human-computer interfaces in which the computer creates a sensory-immersing environment that interactively responds to and is controlled by the behaviour of the user. Since these technologies will continue to become more reliable, more resolute and more affordable, it's important to consider the advantages that VEs may offer to support business processes. The term 'synthetic world' refers to a subset of VEs, having a large virtual landscape and a set of rules that govern the interactions among participants. Currently, the primary motivators for participation in these synthetic worlds appear to be fun and novelty. As the novelty wears off, synthetic worlds will need to demonstrate a favourable value proposition if they are to survive. In particular, non-game-oriented worlds will need to facilitate business processes to a degree that exceeds their substantial costs for development and maintenance. Working Through Synthetic Worlds explores a variety of different tasks that might benefit by being performed within a synthetic world. The editors use a distinctive format for the book, consisting of a set of chapters composed of three parts: ¢ a story or vignette that describes work conducted within a synthetic world based loosely on the question, 'what will work be like in the year 2025?', founded on the expert authors' expectations of plausible future technologies ¢ a scholarly review of the technologies described by the stories and the current theories related to those technologies ¢ a prescription for future research required to bridge the current state-of-the-art with the notional worlds described in the stories. The book will appeal to undergraduate and graduate students, professors, scientists and engineers, managers in high-tech industries and software developers.
Synthetic Worlds, Virtual Worlds, and Alternate Realities are all terms used to describe the phenomenon of computer-based, simulated environments in which users inhabit and interact via avatars. The best-known commercial applications are in the form of electronic gaming, and particularly in massively-multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft or Second Life. Less known, but possibly more important, is the rapid adoption of platforms in education and business, where Serious Games are being used for training purposes, and even Second Life is being used in many situations that formerly required travel. The editors of this book captures the state of research in the field intended to reflect the rapidly growing yet relatively young market in education and business. The general focus is set on the scientific community but integrates the practical applications for businesses, with papers on information systems, business models, and economics. In six parts, international authors – all experts in their field – discuss the current state-of-the-art of virtual worlds/alternate realities and how the field will develop over the next years. Chapters discuss the influences and impacts in and around virtual worlds. Part four is about education, with a focus on learning environments and experiences, pedagogical models, and the effects on the different roles in the educational sector. The book looks at business models and how companies can participate in virtual worlds while receiving a return on investment, and includes cases and scenarios of integration, from design, implementation to application.
The concept of virtual worlds is strongly related to the current innovations of new media communication. As such, it is increasingly imperative to understand the criteria for creating virtual worlds as well as the evolution in system architecture, information visualization and human interaction. Meta-plasticity in Virtual Worlds: Aesthetics and Semantics Concepts provides in-depth coverage of the state-of-the-art among the best international research experiences of virtual world concept creations from a wide range of media culture fields, at the edge of artistic and scientific inquiry and emerging technologies. Written for professionals, researchers, artists and designers, this text is a perfect companion for those who want to improve their understanding of the strategic role of virtual worlds within the development of digital communication.
Virtual worlds are most often three dimensional locales, where people create virtual personae (called avatars) who come to play, socialize, and work. This edited collection of groundbreaking research on virtual worlds offers a wide-ranging look at the sociology, politics, and communication practices in virtual worlds from a group of scholars in the United States and abroad.
Digital Interactive TV and Metadata gives a broad and detailed, visionary and technical overview useful for graduates, engineers, and scientists, and, last but not least, decision-makers in the broadcasting industry."--BOOK JACKET.
The papers in this volume are the refereed technical papers presented at AI-2006, the Twenty-sixth SGAI International Conference on Innovative Techniques and Applications of Artificial Intelligence, held in Cambridge in December 2006. They present new and innovative developments in the field. For the first time the volume also includes the text of short papers presented as posters at the conference.
Virtual worlds have exploded out of online game culture and now capture the attention of millions of ordinary people: husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, workers, retirees. Devoting dozens of hours each week to massively multiplayer virtual reality environments (like World of Warcraft and Second Life), these millions are the start of an exodus into the refuge of fantasy, where they experience life under a new social, political, and economic order built around fun. Given the choice between a fantasy world and the real world, how many of us would choose reality? Exodus to the Virtual World explains the growing migration into virtual reality, and how it will change the way we live--both in fantasy worlds and in the real one.
About the series: Technology builders, entrepreneurs, consultants, academicians, and futurists from around the world share their wisdom in The Future of the Internet surveys conducted by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Elon University. The series of surveys garners smart, detailed assessments of multi-layered issues from a variety of voices, ranging from the scientists and engineers who created the first Internet architecture a decade ago to social commentators to technology leaders in corporations, media, government, and higher education. Among the respondents are people affiliated with many of the world's top organizations, including IBM, AOL, Microsoft, Intel, ICANN, the Internet Society, Google, W3C, Internet2, and Oracle; Harvard, MIT, and Yale; and the Federal Communications Commission, FBI, U.S. Census Bureau, Social Security Administration, and U.S. Department of State. They provide significant and telling responses to questions about the future of government, education, media, entertainment, commerce, and more. They foresee continuing conflicts over control of networked communications and the content produced and shared online. They also predict the major changes ahead for everyone in every field of endeavor. Hopes and Fears: The Future of the Internet, Volume 2 The 2006 Future of the Internet II survey asked its participants to react to variety of networked information technology scenarios related to national boundaries, human languages, artificial intelligence and other topics. Among the questions implicit in the scenarios were: Will more people choose to live "off the grid"? Will autonomous machines leave people out of the loop? Will English be the lingua franca? Will national boundaries be displaced by new groupings? Among the themes in the predictions: Continued serious erosion of individual privacy; the improvement of virtual reality and rising problems tied to it; greater economic opportunities in developing nations; changes in languages; the rise of autonomous machines that operate beyond human control.
The past decade has seen phenomenal growth in the development and use of virtual worlds. In one of the most notable, Second Life, millions of people have created online avatars in order to play games, take classes, socialize, and conduct business transactions. Second Life offers a gathering point and the tools for people to create a new world online. Too often neglected in popular and scholarly accounts of such groundbreaking new environments is the simple truth that, of necessity, such virtual worlds emerge from physical workplaces marked by negotiation, creation, and constant change. Thomas Malaby spent a year at Linden Lab, the real-world home of Second Life, observing those who develop and profit from the sprawling, self-generating system they have created. Some of the challenges created by Second Life for its developers were of a very traditional nature, such as how to cope with a business that is growing more quickly than existing staff can handle. Others are seemingly new: How, for instance, does one regulate something that is supposed to run on its own? Is it possible simply to create a space for people to use and then not govern its use? Can one apply these same free-range/free-market principles to the office environment in which the game is produced? "Lindens"-as the Linden Lab employees call themselves-found that their efforts to prompt user behavior of one sort or another were fraught with complexities, as a number of ongoing processes collided with their own interventions. Malaby thoughtfully describes the world of Linden Lab and the challenges faced while he was conducting his in-depth ethnographic research there. He shows how the workers of a very young but quickly growing company were themselves caught up in ideas about technology, games, and organizations, and struggled to manage not only their virtual world but also themselves in a nonhierarchical fashion. In exploring the practices the Lindens employed, he questions what was at stake in their virtual world, what a game really is (and how people participate), and the role of the unexpected in a product like Second Life and an organization like Linden Lab.
Live your Second Life to the fullest! Create Your Virtual Life in an Incredible Online World...Right Now! Imagine a virtual landscape where everything is created and owned entirely by residents like you. Imagine a place where you can enjoy sunsets, ride a jet ski, buy land, plant a garden, get a tattoo, go sky diving, spend an evening dancing the night away, or relax at home by the fire. Picture a world vividly developed, socially dynamic, and strikingly real where you can bring previously unimaginable things to life with friends from around the globe. This is Second Life®, the hottest Internet phenomenon in years…maybe ever! Now, there’s a totally real, totally independent guide to Second Life. This full-color book is as rich as Second Life itself! It’s packed with insider tips, easy step-by-step techniques, and interviews with dozens of SL residents telling you what they wished they knew when they started! Brian White pulls no punches: You’ll learn exactly what’s great and not so great about SL...how to thrive in its unique culture, and how to create your dreams! The more time you spend in Second Life, the more useful this book will become...teaching you more advanced skills; everything from vehicle construction, Linden Scripting Language, particle systems, to creating custom animations and the new sculpted prims! Visit the companion site in Second Life to find all the textures and objects from this book as well as the contributor’s gallery and other goodies: http://slurl.com/secondlife/humuli/222/123/29
In 2006, S. Craig Watkins participated in the MacArthur Foundation’s well-funded digital media initiative alongside a select team of scholars and tech experts. The goal was simple: to understand young people’s emphatic embrace of social and mobile media. Watkins went on to build a small research team that skillfully collected over 500 surveys and conducted 350 in-depth interviews with young adults, parents, and educators while visiting the online spaces where young people gather. It was a full-scale immersion into what Watkins calls the “digital trenches,” and when he emerged, his understanding of the ways young people learn, play, bond, and communicate had become more detailed and dynamic. It may come as no surprise that more teens are online than ever before—in fact 87 percent are. Consequentially, television is no longer the dominant medium it once was because young people are now spending an average of six to eight hours a day online. Watkins contends that most teens and twenty-somethings migrate online to share their lives with friends, something television simply cannot offer. As Melinda, a twenty-one-year-old student, proclaimed, “What do people do without Facebook?” In other words, for young people today, if you’re not online, then you’re not really living—and the ubiquitous presence of their mobile phones, laptops, and iPods positions them at the center of our evolving digital landscape. Timely and deeply relevant, The Young and the Digital covers a host of provocative issues—the influence of social sites like MySpace and Facebook; the growing appetite for “anytime, anywhere” media and “fast entertainment”; how online “digital gates” reinforce race and class divisions; how technology is transforming America’s classrooms—and takes a fresh look at the pivotal role technology played in the historic 2008 election. Watkins also debunks popular myths surrounding cyberpredators, Internet addiction, and social isolation. The result is a fascinating portrait, both optimistic and cautious, about the coming of age of the first fully wired generation.
Cryptology is the practice of hiding digital information by means of various obfuscatory and steganographic techniques. The application of said techniques facilitates message confidentiality and sender/receiver identity authentication, and helps to ensure the integrity and security of computer passwords, ATM card information, digital signatures, DVD and HDDVD content, and electronic commerce. Cryptography is also central to digital rights management (DRM), a group of techniques for technologically controlling the use of copyrighted material that is being widely implemented and deployed at the behest of corporations that own and create revenue from the hundreds of thousands of mini-transactions that take place daily on programs like iTunes. This new edition of our best-selling book on cryptography and information hiding delineates a number of different methods to hide information in all types of digital media files. These methods include encryption, compression, data embedding and watermarking, data mimicry, and scrambling. During the last 5 years, the continued advancement and exponential increase of computer processing power have enhanced the efficacy and scope of electronic espionage and content appropriation. Therefore, this edition has amended and expanded outdated sections in accordance with new dangers, and includes 5 completely new chapters that introduce newer more sophisticated and refined cryptographic algorithms and techniques (such as fingerprinting, synchronization, and quantization) capable of withstanding the evolved forms of attack. Each chapter is divided into sections, first providing an introduction and high-level summary for those who wish to understand the concepts without wading through technical explanations, and then presenting concrete examples and greater detail for those who want to write their own programs. This combination of practicality and theory allows programmers and system designers to not only implement tried and true encryption procedures, but also consider probable future developments in their designs, thus fulfilling the need for preemptive caution that is becoming ever more explicit as the transference of digital media escalates. Includes 5 completely new chapters that delineate the most current and sophisticated cryptographic algorithms, allowing readers to protect their information against even the most evolved electronic attacks Conceptual tutelage in conjunction with detailed mathematical directives allows the reader to not only understand encryption procedures, but also to write programs which anticipate future security developments in their design
Introduces readers to virtual law. This work examines cases and legislation impacting virtual world providers and users, and makes predictions about the future application of the law. It also includes appendices listing in-world and web-based resources for practitioners and legal scholars.
The field of environmental history emerged just decades ago but has established itself as one of the most innovative and important new approaches to history, one that bridges the human and natural world, the humanities and the sciences. With the current trend towards internationalizing history, environmental history is perhaps the quintessential approach to studying subjects outside the nation-state model, with pollution, global warming, and other issues affecting the earth not stopping at national borders. With 25 essays, this Handbook is global in scope and innovative in organization, looking at the field thematically through such categories as climate, disease, oceans, the body, energy, consumerism, and international relations.
Millions of users have taken up residence in virtual worlds, and in those worlds they find opportunities to revisit and rewrite their religious lives. Robert M. Geraci argues that virtual worlds and video games have become a locus for the satisfaction of religious needs, providing many users with devoted communities, opportunities for ethical reflection, a meaningful experience of history and human activity, and a sense of transcendence. Using interviews, surveys, and his own first-hand experience within the virtual worlds, Geraci shows how World of Warcraft and Second Life provide participants with the opportunity to rethink what it means to be religious in the contemporary world. Not all participants use virtual worlds for religious purposes, but many online residents use them to rearrange or replace religious practice as designers and users collaborate in the production of a new spiritual marketplace. Using World of Warcraft and Second Life as case studies, this book shows that many residents now use virtual worlds to re-imagine their traditions and work to restore them to "authentic" sanctity, or else replace religious institutions with virtual communities that provide meaning and purpose to human life. For some online residents, virtual worlds are even keys to a post-human future where technology can help us transcend mortal life. Geraci argues that World of Warcraft and Second Life are "virtually sacred" because they do religious work. They often do such work without regard for-and frequently in conflict with-traditional religious institutions and practices; ultimately they participate in our sacred landscape as outsiders, competitors, and collaborators.
The relation between religion and things has long been conceived in antagonistic terms, privileging spirit above matter, belief above ritual and objects, meaning above form and 'inward' contemplation above 'outward' action. This book addresses these issues.
Proteus, the mythical sea god who could alter his appearance at will, embodies one of the promises of online games: the ability to reinvent oneself. Yet inhabitants of virtual worlds rarely achieve this liberty, game researcher Nick Yee contends. Though online games evoke freedom and escapism, Yee shows that virtual spaces perpetuate social norms and stereotypes from the offline world, transform play into labor, and inspire racial scapegoating and superstitious thinking. And the change that does occur is often out of our control and effected by unparalleled—but rarely recognized—tools for controlling what players think and how they behave.div /DIVUsing player surveys, psychological experiments, and in-game data, Yee breaks down misconceptions about who plays fantasy games and the extent to which the online and offline worlds operate separately. With a wealth of entertaining and provocative examples, he explains what virtual worlds are about and why they matter, not only for entertainment but also for business and education. He uses gaming as a lens through which to examine the pressing question of what it means to be human in a digital world. His thought-provoking book is an invitation to think more deeply about virtual worlds and what they reveal to us about ourselves. div /DIV

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