Bark of the Dragon

December 2, 2006

Hydrogen and Stupidity…

Filed under: Law,Second Life,Stupidity — tomashausdorff @ 8:24 pm

 I was reading Second Life Insider today, and encountered a posting from one of my favorite Second Live residents, Tateru Nino.  

Tateru was directing us to inspect a press release from Lawfuel.com talking about “video games”.   The author of the piece starts off with a few opinions about how video gamers have lost sight of real life and draws supporting material from the recent release of the Playstation 3.  Everything goes down hill from there.

I’ll disect a couple of quotes…

Dr. Rudolph G. Briggs, whose web site indicates he’s a member of the Department of Psychotechnology at SUNY-Albany (http://library.albany.edu/briggs/addiction.html), defines Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) as, “characterized by seven basic diagnostic criteria, among them increasing tolerance of long online hours, withdrawal, and unsuccessful efforts to control Internet use.”

Interesting reference, but this is talking about Internet addition, not video game addition.  His study is talking about people who spend too much time looking at websites, many of which contain poorly written and ignorant prattle like the article in question.  A little bit of research would have turned up several references to video game addiction as well.  Why did the author chose this study?  Probably because it was the first one they found, and they have little or no concept of the difference between the Internet, video games, computer games, or much of anything else, really.

In my book — for those who can recall the word “book” — all these saps are losers. Among the winners are college kids who are majoring in video game development. I kid you not. A handful of colleges and universities now offer an opportunity to major in video gaming.

This is where the wheels completely fall off on this article.   Let me offer a couple of clues to help the author.  I’ll identify myself with the target the author is pointing at: I spend a lot of time on the Internet, I play computer games (not “video” games, but I’ll concede that is common error), and play Second Life (we’ll get to that part of the article shortly).  I also read on average 500 pages of old fashioned novel-length books per week, plus several hundred pages of technical documents.  Yes, I know what a book is.   I’d argue that, given how much mis-information exists within this article, I’m probably a much better read person than the author.

Another clue for the author.  There is a difference between computer / video game development and video gaming itself.  Game development is a very, very big business, currently in the same league as the movie industry in terms of annual revenues.  Game development involves many of the same skills as movie production.  Writers and designers, graphic artists, motion capture specialists, sound and music production, marketing.  The one major “unique” to game development is application coding itself, but since much of the movie industry is based on computer graphics these days, even that point is arguable.  All of this is complex, highly skilled work: computer games involve teams of dozens or hundreds, budgets in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars, and revenues to match.  The schools that teach video game development do so in much the same way that schools teaching movie and video related specializations do.  And yes, some very large universities are involved, because students who work in these specialized, skilled professions need robust educations.

Video game meets Internet at the cutting edge in Linden City, the virtual capitol of Second Life (http://secondlife.com/). As this column was written, Second Life counted 1,755,704 residents of Linden City. In the past 60 days more than 700,000 of these folks had visited the virtual city, i.e., logged onto the site.

Here the author starts to reveal the incredible shallowness of their “research”.  There is no such thing as Linden City.  And logging in to the site doesn’t count as “visiting” Second Life: there is a virtual world…thus the whole thing about downloading the virtual world client.

A link directed me to a “jobs page.” I’m not positive, but I think the jobs were for real. I wished I had the ability to become the “Italian-speaking Liaison.” I guess getting a job like that would make me one of the winners of the video game world.

Here again we see that the author has no concept of the difference between the game and the development/support of the game.   The links in question are real world jobs with Linden Lab supporting Second Life.   Since the author “wasn’t positive”, they obviously have a rather low reading comprehension skill.   Oh, and by the way: if the author had read a couple of articles on Second Life, they would know that it is also possible for the “gamers” (residents) to run businesses within the “game” (virtual world).  Some have even been rather successful at it

An hour of research could have revealed these facts to the author: but apparently that would have been too much effort.  Reading and comprehending is tough work, especially when you have a deadline to produce a “press release”.  Don’t let facts stand in your way, and to hell with intelligent discourse.  Why bother forming a cogent argument when confused, inaccurate babble will be sufficient for most of the audience?

What is really pathetic…actually rather scary…is the fact that this “press release” appears in a web service provider that claims to provide news for legal professionals.  I sincerely hope that this isn’t indicative of the kind of research the legal profession performs these days.

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