THE CHANGING MEANING OF PLAY
Why Are You Paging Through a Book about Games?According to the jacket material, this book claims to take a serious look at online
computer games. You are actually reading it, at least the first few lines of the introduction, and if you are a serious, hardheaded person like me, you must be feeling
a bit strange. I feel a bit strange writing it. Three years ago I was an ordinary economist pursuing generally ordinary economics research. Now, however, I am pushing deeper and deeper into a realm of experience that’s growing faster than I can
examine it, a fantastic cosmos of dragons and rayguns and beautifully crafted
human bodies. It is also a universe that hosts massive flows of real human intercourse—information, commerce, war, politics, society, and culture. I am speaking, of course, of the phenomenon known as “massively multiplayer online
role-playing games” (MMORPGs), places where thousands of users interact with
one another in the guise of video game characters, on a persistent basis: many
hours a day, every day, all year round. As such, these places are like real cities and
fairy-tale cities at the same time, and some of the numbers they are producing
might surprise you:
|• ||Users drive around in these worlds using a video game character in much the
same the way we use a car to drive around the Earth. Some characters are better
than others: faster, better looking. They can be bought and sold, most often on
eBay. As I write this, a Jedi-type character from a fantasy world based on Star
Wars costs over $2,000.|
|• ||Typical users spend 20–30 hours per week inside the fantasy. Power users spend
every available moment. Some 20 percent of users in a recent survey (see|
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games.
Contributors: Edward Castronova - Author.
Publisher: University of Chicago Press.
Place of publication: Chicago.
Publication year: 2005.
Page number: 1.
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