Saturday, February 28, 2009

Virtual Pan-handling

One of the main reasons I play ourWorld is to experience the game as typical players experience it. When I play ourWorld, I do so as a regular player, with a regular membership. Nothing more or less than any other member with a paid subscription would have.

One of my policies has been to accept all friend invitations. I don't want to miss out knowing somebody who I really want to know. Unfortunately, that's not how it really works. Too many friends essentially eliminates friends as a useful tool. They're just random names on a 1000-strong list, and I still only know a couple dozen as 'real' online friends.

While my account is no different than any other, I do use it for a few official functions. When players win ourWorld Contests, I use my account to award the prize codes. An unfortunate side effect of issuing these codes with my main account is now people think it's okay to ask me for free coupons and Gems (ourWorld currency, normally only available for real money.)

I could handle one or two people a day asking for free stuff, and then taking no for an answer. Unfortunately, since awarding the contest prizes, I now get lots of people asking repeatedly. So many requests that it's sapping the enjoyment out of playing ourWorld, and that is intolerable.

My solution is semi-harsh, but I plan to stick to it. Players get one free pass. Ask me for free stuff (or give me a sob story about how you can't afford anything, which is worse) and you get one warning. Ask me again, and you're off my friends list.

From a purely pragmatic standpoint, players panhandling for free stuff are not the players who are ponying up their credit cards and purchasing memberships and virtual currency. That means my friendship is based on how actually friendly they are. Most of the ourWorld friends I talk to regularly are very nice and I don't care if they are members or not. Even huge sites like Club Penquin only have about 5% paying members. That said, if you're a high maintenance user, bugging me daily, you might consider making a purchase. I will happily contribute to a relationship based on social niceties. I will happily contribute to a relationship based on an customer/provider relationship. While its hard to mix the two, I think I do a good job with friends who are also customers as well. Bring nothing to the table, and I don't think it hurts me or ourWorld much to remove you from my friends list. That's all I'm saying.


Friday, February 27, 2009


It keeps coming up in media, in casual conversations, even at work. Twitter.

I signed up months ago, but this time I'm really going to try and sort out what Twitter can do for me. Heaven help me.

The book, Remix, really is worthwhile.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Know My Family Will Be Prepared

More debate over violent video games. This time with conclusions I can support.

Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

They Know "Comfortably Numb" is Friggin' Awesome, Right?

Violent Media Numb Viewers To The Pain Of Others

Another study designed to support an established behavioral theory. i.e. video games are bad.

Let me make a list of things I think could generate similar results:
  • A bad day at work
  • Traffic Jam
  • Headache
  • Most media I define as 'awesome'
  • Pink Floyd, Slipknot, or Barry Manilow
  • Dealing with agressive pan-handlers daily
  • Being hungry
  • Being full
  • Wearing orange (don't know until you test it.)
My point: Lots of things can impact how we react to a given situation, particularly in the short term. People are drastically impacted by their environment, and video games are a kind of environment. Have the kids play violent video games for a year and see how they act (compared to a control) a year later. That might hold some weight.

I particularly like how the article paints the research as "[filling] an important research gap in the literature on the impact of violent media."



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Simple Plan

I don't need another T-shirt. It's epic how much I don't need another T-shirt. I may NEED this T-shirt.

A Simple Plan

Available from

Another slice of awesome courtesy of Wil Wheaton.

Phone Privilege Day at the Home

PPDatH is an old Wizards of the Coast Customer Service phrase (coined by Jeff Harris, who should contact me if he reads this. DUDE!) We used it any time the day's ration of crazy/stupid/incomprehensible callers outnumbered the sane ones. We handled rules support for Magic: The Gathering, so the 'sane' bar was already set pretty low!

Nowadays, when I handle support, I do it mostly via Email. The primary advantage to Email is the ability to step back from the insane for a moment. Once my wits are in place, I can then tackle the problem du jour with the optimistic vigor I have worked so hard to cultivate. Still, there are days...

When I first started with ourWorld, I read up on community management. There was precious little usefull information out there on how to handle a large number of online contributers*, particularly teens. Most of the attention was spent on how to *be* a member of a community, rather than how to manage one. What written help the internet could provide, proved useful. I'll share the most imporant bit:

"You are a moderator, not a therapist."

It's shocking how often this phrase helps me do the correct thing. And there you have it.


* A quick Google search for 'virtual world community management' brings up a host of articles now. No idea if they're any good. When I have time, I'll need to see.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Transitory Nature of Things

I think there is a desire for things to be permanent, yet so much that we treasure is made even more valuable by the knowledge that its not forever.

I'm toying with the idea of a communal art-project for ourWorld, that allows players to cover up the work of the previous artists, or if left too long, vanishes with time. I love the notion that players could impact their virtual world, if only for a little while. It's just an idea, and I'll have to do some convincing to make it happen. It's not technically prohibitive, it can be monetized, and it's pretty fraking unique. Fingers crossed.

Speaking of Transitory. Here's a clip from my last robot fight. My robots were the losing pair.