Twitter ye not!

One of the big things that has come out of our recent election is a sea change in the way online news is being reported. Both the BBC and The Guardian (the two sources I follow most closely) have been experimenting with what they call live news feeds over the last week.

And as well as the various news stories, they pad out the feeds by including timely tweets from the relevant people. It’s the next best thing to actually having an interview, and presenting a casually tweeted comment by the subject of said news story alongside the news has livened up the news feed immensely. Or at least, it’ll continue to be entertaining until people wise up that the media has gotten hold of the back channel.

And meanwhile, my local police force is on twitter too. PC Plod and Plodette dutifully report how many daily steps they took around the area (do they have pokewalkers hooked up to twitter, I wonder?), and their exciting escapades in  rescuing swans, arresting shoplifters, and giving talks in schools. I knew I should have stayed in London.

Do you use twitter for your gaming chat and news?

But that’s just two examples of how organisations I know are struggling with this new technology thing.

I love twitter. It’s difficult to really explain the appeal until you have had time to settle in and accrue a network of your own, but even if you never choose to chat you can listen in to what everyone else is saying. And lots of other MMO developers, bloggers, and readers use it too. I find it a great way to catch up on news, share interesting links, and hang out in a relaxed community of fellow gamers.

If you’re interested in taking part, twitter offers a shortcut. It’s possible to set up lists (ie. groups of people) and instead of following each person individually, you can opt to just follow the list. The easiest way to do this is via the twitter website – just follow any of the links below. There are also plenty of twitter clients available which will make it easier to organise both sending and receiving if you decide you want to spend more time with the site.

I know of a few lists of MMO bloggers:

Do you use twitter to chat about gaming? Have any good lists to recommend? Want more followers?

I’d like to update this page to include more twitter lists so feel free to make recommendations. Appropriate attributions will be made.

Looking for good browser / facebook/ twitter games

I’d like to write some more about good social type web based games. But I have a problem. Well, the first problem is that I am distracted by the delightfully gothic Echo Bazaar at the moment, but I mean the second problem. There are zillions of games out there which fall into this category and I’ve only had a chance to try very few of them myself.

So feel free to either email me, or reply in the comments here with links to any games of this type that you particularly like, with a few words about why that game appeals. I’ll gather all the comments and links together, with attributions, and combine them into a post sometime next week.

So cheer for your favourite game here! Do you like sports sims like hattrick? Stock market simulations? Farming games? What is it that you would like to recommend?

My New Hobby

My new pastime when bored (and online) is typing names of random fictional characters into Twitter.

No really, there’s a surprising amount of roleplaying going on there. People create accounts under the names of their favourite characters and … go ahead and act in character. I remember seeing this on Facebook and MySpace too. And you’d have to be blind not to see the similarities with logging into an MMO, or any virtual world, under a new character name.

It probably was rife in IRC, webmail and just about any online forum that lets you pick your own name and id when you create an account also. I remember there was once a guy on who used to RP being Her Majesty the Queen. I don’t know why exactly but it was very entertaining.

I wonder if wanting to roleplay when given the opportunity to pretend to be someone else is a basic (and emergent) part of human nature — it just never surfaced before because we didn’t have the means to easily take on different identities.

Twitter Man, thank goodness you came!

Syp got all snarky yesterday about plans in Champions Online to introduce in-game tweeting (I know this works from being spammed a bit in twitter by beta testers already 🙂 ).

I have no idea at all why I’d want to twitter from a MMO. I usually play in windowed mode anyway so if I wanted to twitter I’d just do it. And even if I did I don’t understand why I’d want to broadcast only and not receive. But that isn’t the point. Maybe someone else will find something cool to do with that functionality.

So often devs try to guide players by holding their hands every single step of the way in an MMO. Thou shalt level by killing 10 boars. Thou shalt do PvP on Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons. Thou shalt raid, whether thou likest it or not. Thou shalt have thy weekly rant at Blizzard for not putting a defence trinket on the badge vendor. And so on.

The games where this is less common are called sandbox games. And a sandbox is a place where kids get to play however they want, within the limits of the box.

More freedom isn’t a bad thing for players. Devs putting cool stuff into the games just because they’re cool isn’t a bad thing either. I like the notion that sometimes we can get off the tour bus and just play with our toys. Throwing the players some cool stuff to play with, just because, isn’t a bad thing.

And it made me look again at Champions Online. If they’re willing to add random cool functionality just because they can, and trust players to find something to do with it, what else might they be willing to do? That type of thinking appeals to me.

(Note: If you want to follow me on twitter, I’m on as @copperbird )