One blog is enough

I decided recently that it was just too much of a hassle to maintain this blog, since blogging is just my way to keep track of my research in a nice chronological manner. Since most of my concepts are written in German it’s far easier for me to ditch the English blog (this one) and keep posting in German (Metaversability on Blogger).

But I had an idea: Since some of my English speaking friends would actually miss my blog, I integrated a „Google Translate“ Widget in my German blog so you can have it all with one mouse-click. Try it out – it really works! Those of you using Google Reader have the option to instantly translate anything anyway. I also transferred all articles to the other blog so it’s all in one place now.

I might cross-post some HowTo articles in the future so I’ll keep this blog up and running as an archive. Something like „How to Move from Tumblelog to WordPress, from Blogger to WP and from WordPress back to Blogger while keeping all your posts“ (that last one was a tough one, I can tell you!)

Bye for now,

Gaby aka Consiliera

Why PlayStation Home will revolutionize gaming

„PlayStation Home gives you a neutral space where you can really get to know someone. Even in the real world now if you’re a gamer and you want to get to know other gamers, there really is nowhere left to go.“
[Sony PlayStation Home Director Jack Buser]

I am not a gamer or at least I was never a gamer before. Although I am having fun in Second Life, the 3D virtual world built by its own residents, I see my time in-world mostly as part of my normal work load, because I am a Metaverse expert and need to expericence virtual worlds first hand to be a useful advisor and trainer. But this year two things happened: I got myself a Wii console with Balanceboard (to stay fit and have my very own bowling alley in the living room) and for a couple of weeks now I am seriously considering buying a Sony PS3 console just because of PlayStation Home (ok and the Blu-ray player is nice, too). I probably won’t do it because I still don’t like playing video games but what strikes me is that after all I’ve seen from the PS Home beta version I want to meet people this way!

pshome

The avatars look great, they’re highly customizable (albeit human – well I can be a flying dragon in Second Life anytime) and the body movements look much better than in SL. And it doesn’t seem to be as difficult to meet people because the area doesn’t stretch out over thousands of square kilometers (like the huge SL grid). It’s like a bar that’s never deserted – 24/7. And you get to meet people from all over the world, too. Ok you have that in SL all the time; but it can be difficult to find everybody. And who wants to look an armless Mii figurine or one of the new cartoony Xbox LIVE avatars? Let’s face it, we like looking human.

Easily customize your avatar. You don’t need to be a Photoshop expert and don’t have to pay extra (like in Second Life). Ok, you do have to pay for fancy cloths in Home as well – that’s the same in any virtual world.

Jack Buser says gamers don’t hang around in arcades (in real life) – that’s just not the way we do things today. Gaming is entertainment, like watching TV – it is a way to beat boredom. If we don’t have anything better to do and there are no friends around, we like to hang out with others nevertheless – be it (in the games) with NPCs (Non Player Characters), who are only software-controlled extras, or with other gamers, known to us only by their handle and score records (or in case of MMORPGs like World of Warcraft by the actions of the roles they’re playing).

The whole point seems to be that people more often than not like hanging out with other people. We are a social species – we even die if we don’t have contact to other human beings, after all. And if we have the opportunity, we very much like to play together. More than one study revealed:  Gaming is not for loner’s and gamers are more social than non-gamers. Oh, and we sure do like decorating our own apartment and invite our friends.

And so I guess that’s what’s so intriguing about Home:

  • we can hang out virtually anytime we don’t have anything better to do
  • people we meet have the same knowledge about the game we do (no newbie challenges)
  • if we’re up to it we can play with people we actually got to know a little, because we didn’t just shoot each others brains out but laughed or danced together (see the video below)

That’s what people do if you give them the opportunity…

It’s hang out on-demand. And it’s definitely a social virtual world – a shared virtual environment.

I think all other consoles will follow and offer similar hangouts for their users. And I hope that we’ll find a way to have a meta-friendlist some day: a buddylist with friends from all kinds of virtual worlds, game consoles and flat web social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Friendfeed and the likes). Some kind of interoperability, so we can at least communicate (IM) with all our friends, in whatever world or network they prefer to hang out. I am not talking about data portability here – Pixelsebi blogged his detailed thoughts about that here – just about a standardized mechanism that automatically collects all my friends/connections from all platforms/networks where I have a public account (like Google’s SocialGraph).

And I am going to get me a PS3 – what the heck. It’s X-Mas after all 🙂

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Face and head tracking for Second Life avatars – Massively

We’re seeing some real nice developments that are important for the use of virtual worlds as a place of collaboration and any other social function: non-verbal communication like facial expressions (a smile, surprise, scorn) or other body language like a nod of your head has been missing. Now sl.vr-wear.com offers a beta viewer for Second Life that uses a camera to track your head and expressions and acts them out with your avatar.

Up to date people adopted various new ways of social behaviour in immersive 3D worlds like Second Life, but the point is that body language and sudden emotions on your face are unconscious behaviour and while typing „lol“ is second nature to most of use by now, it’s still different if you’re suddenly appaled or delighted.

sl.vr-wear.com supposedly shows immediately – and therefore genuinely – these kinds of emotions on your avatar’s face as well. All you need is a webcam and their special SL viewer, available for Windows and MacOS.

Found via: http://www.massively.com/2008/12/01/face-and-head-tracking-for-second-life-avatars/

UPDATE: I couldn’t get it to work on my MacBook Pro and I would like to know if anybody else has had more luck on a Mac. But I found this Seesmic video showing how simple it’ll work (once it works):

VRW – SL Viewer mod – 0.99 beta 1 public release