This is a follow-up to my earlier post on Second Life (SL) vs. World of Warcraft (WoW). One of my students, Dan Spector, replies to that post by writing the following remarks in an email message to me (quoted by permission):
Contrary to popular opinion, the time investment in World of Warcraft isn’t overwhelming. World of Warcraft was actually developed as a casual MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) and Blizzard has devoted a lot of effort to make the game accessible to casual players. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to do; reaching the highest levels of the game does require a significant time investment. Though this may seem contradictory, I think that the distinction between a required time investment and quantity of content is a significant one. Players who devote their time to World of Warcraft do so because it’s enjoyable, not because it’s necessary. Though there is a daunting amount of content, the speed at which it is experienced is up to the player.
…You may be interested in reading about the Corrupted Blood event that occurred in World of Warcraft. The Wikipedia entry (as of 12:19AM, 2/9/06 — time stamps on sources are becoming necessary…) describes it as “a virtual plague that infected characters in the computer game World of Warcraft; it was also the first disease to affect any MMORPG with a significant game effect.” The BBC did a short article on it, also.
…It’s often difficult to overcome the stigma surrounding World of Warcraft, and I think the game offers a lot more than what is mentioned in the media.
As an aside, I would like to claim that the quality of the writing in that message represents what’s typical of Weston High School students’ email. But I would be lying if I claimed that.
Anyway, Dan’s message makes me want to try WoW after all. But then I read Steve O’Hear’s post, which tilts me toward SL. (I don’t have time for both. I thought I didn’t even have time for one, though Dan presents a convincing argument to the contrary.) O’Hear writes that “John Edwards has become the first presidential candidate to set-up-shop in Second Life.” He quotes Jerimee Richir, who is managing the Edwards SL campaign:
Second Life users are a unique audience, in that, they are first adopters. This means that they are extremely adept at creating User-Generated Content (UGC).
While SL users do not have the same numbers as, say, MySpace, they have communication skills, and a desire to communicate, that, I humbly say, exceeds that of MySpace users. For example, and this is just a guess, but I bet that half of Second Life users regularly contribute to multiple blogs. So it is a smaller community, but I would argue it is a more influential community.
So SL campaigns generate more buzz, not because, “the media is stupid” but because Second Life users do more talking.
That certainly sounds intriguing, and makes me want to be part of the SL community (not that I have anything against Obama or Clinton, but I think Edwards is the one to watch).