Two insights into online gaming


Two looks into the world of online games that are fascinating for those of us not immersed in them. First, an article about how designers of online multi-player games can combat the ingenious ways people try and cheat. It's nearly three years old, so may be well out of date for all I know, but it's still interesting to see how people try and get ahead in these non-existent worlds.

Second, Julian Dibbell has a weblog. He wrote an article for Wired in January about the economy of buying and selling virtual objects in Ultima Online for real world money, after a study described the world of EverQuest as being the world's 77th richest country. While researching the article Dibbell fell into a "fairly predictable Ultima addiction" and is now keeping a intriguing diary of his attempts to make real dollars by trading virtual goods.

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This recent article from Tom's Hardware goes into more detail about cheats for specific games, as well as the current set of cheating countermeasures (such as PunkBuster):

Cool, thanks Yoz. It was only when I came to write about that gamasutra article that I realised it was three years old!

I don't play these games either, so this is the blind leading the blind. But the Guardian ran an article recently by David McCandless that said cheating was getting to be a real problem.

"Online gaming is suffering from an epidemic of cheating. America's Army is just the latest in a long line of major titles - Quake III, Diablo II, Warcraft III and Battlefield 1942 - to be infested by dishonest players",3605,960616,00.html

Interestingly, it's the players not the game publishers who really object. The article quotes a guy at Punkbuster who thinks some publishers are happy to see cheating destroy their old games as it encourages players to move on to newer offerings.

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