Two insights into online gaming

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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 It's nearly three years old, so may be well out of date for all I know, but it's still interesting to see how people try and get ahead in these non-existent worlds.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):
http://www17.tomshardware.com/game/20030517/index.html

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"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,960616,00.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.