Joining the ranks of the virtual enforcers: Japan

Japan steps up and takes real life judicial action for a virtual crime:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/10/23/international/i063235D45.DTL&tsp=1

A 43-year-old player in a virtual game world became so angry about her sudden divorce from her online husband that she logged on with his password and killed his digital persona, police said Thursday.

The woman, who has been jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his ID and password to log onto the popular interactive game “Maple Story” to carry out the virtual murder in May, a police official in the northern city of Sapporo said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy.

“I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry,” the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.

The woman, a piano teacher, had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.

She has not yet been formally charged. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison or a fine up to $5,000.

It will be interesting to see what the court decides on this one. I’m also curious as to the consequences within Maple Story itself — how much he actually loses, if the character was “dead” (as in game-death) or if she deleted it, and either way, if he can retrieve it. Regardless, this is still an invasive act and he should be within his rights to take action — but the specific details on this case will also be interesting to discover.

(For those who missed the link(s) before, this is more in the virtual property vein of “We the Gamers” and “Someone Stole My Magic Sword”.)

From Denver, Unexpected Quickness (and Settlers of the New Virtual Worlds)

Checking in briefly from my sister’s rather fantastic cabin south of Denver. Photos from the trip will be up on a Flickr at some point.

Very much ahead of schedule, Booksurge put Settlers of the New Virtual Worlds out on Amazon — we finalized the book a week ago, but had thought it would take at least two to three weeks to appear on Amazon. Instead the initial listings were there in just under a week! Which turns out to be very interesting timing with my moving cross-country and Erik being abroad in Germany for Liepzig.

I think that they’re still working out the kinks — the information seems to shift every couple of days, and the cover image is a little wonky — but I am officially announcing its availability because [info]erikbethke did so, which caused Raph to do so, which caused the news to start propagating all over the darn internet. 😉 But we are live, though the book’s official “meatspace” launch remains Austin GDC, which at this point is barrelling down upon us like a train on fire.

In other Settlers news, my related article “Fair Trade Goldfarming” is up at the rather newly-minted GiantRealm.com, piloted by the elusive Joe Blancato, whom I worked with extensively at The Escapist and is now helming his own shindig (and, if he reads this sentence, also correcting my grammar). The concept of desirable goldfarming elements in MMOs is not new, but I think I might have Coined a Term. Think of it as either a taster (though not this taster or even this taster of the juicy book) or an extension upon the larger Settlers project.

Thoughts appreciated, even while I am velocitized. Proper marketing endeavors and all of that initiate when [info]jsridler and I are actually traversing <2 states per day. But of course we are very excited about the book’s availability on Amazon, and seeing all of this work and idea exchange come to tangible fruition.

The power of the multitudes

I have an Escapist feature up this week, “Someone Stole My Magic Sword”, with many thanks to Dave Weinstein and, of course, to Michelle, for coming forward and sharing her story. There was a lot to compress here — my interviews with Michelle alone totaled over 5,000 words — but hopefully we got the meat of the story across. I know I say it for just about every one of these things, but this one was difficult, due to its importance. It’s getting some interesting feedback on the forums, all naturally flowing into much of what we’re dealing with with Settlers of the New Virtual Worlds, so it’s cool to see these conclusions being drawn ‘live’ in the interactive space. But Michelle’s story itself is worth reading — I’ll be including an expanded version of it inside Settlers itself. After awhile you get to thinking you’ve seen it all when it comes to the behavior of big game companies, but I was astonished at some of the things she went through with Square Enix.

It’s also been interesting to watch the Escapist’s effect on pagerank. Prior to the article going up, I googled “someone stole my magic sword”, and of course all of the news-feeds from Dave’s interview popped up — many from high profile sites like Slashdot and the Washington Post. I thought, crap — it was the perfect title for the article, but I assumed it would be buried beneath the bigger sites.

Not so. It’s only been up for two days and it’s shot to the top of the page-rank, likely due to the number of times the Escapist syndicates across various blog feeds, and how many hits it racks up on individual articles and every time someone accesses its forum thread. I checked out “Slave to the Beat”, and sure enough, it’s there on the first page, despite being a relatively common phrase. Conclusion: the Escapist owns at the pagerank game.