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Exodus to the Virtual World: How Online Fun Is Changing Reality (Anglais) Relié – 1 janvier 2007

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Book by Castronova Edward

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37 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Disappointing in many respects; Read Synthetic Worlds instead 2 janvier 2008
Par M. Redovan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
I read and thoroughly enjoyed Castronova's first book on the subject: Synthetic Worlds. And, as in SW, Castronova is at is strongest in Exodus when he explains the "realness" of virtual worlds. The main thesis of Exodus is that because synthetic worlds are more fun, people will increasingly choose to spend time in them over the real world, and that, eventually, the real world must remodel itself, taking cues from virtual worlds; eventually the real world must become more fun. Exodus, though it has a few interesting new contributions, is terribly repetitive book that takes way too long getting to the substantial points. When it finally does, it is shallow in its descriptions and analyses of how, exactly, the exodus to synthetic worlds is going to radically affect the real world.

The biggest flaw (among the several I found in the book) is Castronova's thesis itself - that the real world will eventually have to model itself on synthetic worlds. The flaw is evident in his use of "migration" as the metaphor for what's going on with synthetic worlds. He explains that a family migrates from Old Country to New Country, and then tells its friends back in Old how great New is. Eventually, after hearing how great New is over and again, those that stayed put in Old put pressure on their government to change the country, to make it more like New. Castronova provides no historical examples of this, and I don't know my history well enough to know if this is how it has happened in the past, but the flaw in the metaphor is, and Castronova admits this himself, that the synthetic migration isn't physical, and therefore not permanent. It's super-easy to switch from real to synthetic, or among various synthetic worlds. This undermines not just his metaphor, but his entire argument...

A better metaphor, one that incorporates the ease of movement between places/activities, would be engagement in different activities, like sports: I play baseball when I want to hit home runs; I play football when I want to score touchdowns; I don't complain that I can't hit a home run in football. Or even more broadly: I go to the gym to work out; I go to the library to study. I don't complain that I can't run on a treadmill in the library. Why wouldn't this be the result of synthetic worlds? I hop into WoW to partake of the "good vs. evil" shared lore. I hop into SL to sell virtual real estate. I hop into the real world to go for a run, eat lunch, take a nap, kiss my spouse. Why should I expect to be able to do any of these things in the other worlds? Once it's established that the synthetic worlds provide fun, and that the real world does not, why/how does it follow that the real world must aspire to be more fun, like synthetic worlds? Why would I demand that the real world also be fun?

Castronova's argument that people will go where their utility is highest points to the same problem in his argument. He thinks synthetic worlds provide the highest utility, so off people go. But it's not as simple as "the world with the highest aggregate utility wins." There are different goods to be achieved in different worlds, so people will always come back to the real world for the goods that only it can provide (Castronova raises the issue of childbirth/rearing in a different context, but I think it's an adequate example of what I'm talking about here). Now, maybe some day in the future it really will be possible to hook up electrodes and "virtually" experience things we once thought we could only experience in the real world: eating a cheeseburger, having sex with our partner, giving birth to a child. But I think we are far from that point and can still easily say that there are just some things that we can only do in the real world. It seems more likely to me that we'll end up in a future where we go to synthetic worlds for fun, but still come back to the real world for other activities, even if they aren't fun.
17 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Misleading title for an interesting book 6 janvier 2008
Par Mary Ellen Gordon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book was not what I expected. It is primarily a reflection on lessons learned through development of digital games that could be applied to real life. The author doesn't seem to have any expectation that they will be applied exactly as described and doesn't address the myriad details that would need to be dealt with for that to happen, but the whole concept provides a lot of interesting food for thought.

For example, two general themes that cut through a lot of the lessons are the importance of fun and the idea that people's experiences playing digital games are likely to influence their expectations for how things should work back in the "real world" outside of games. So if the book had been called something like "Real Life Lessons from Digital Games," it would have delivered well on the expectations set by the title.

As it was, I found the title misleading for a couple of reasons. First, while the title refers to "Virtual Worlds" most of the lessons relate specifically to game-based virtual environments. Social worlds such as Second Life are discussed, but the author specifically acknowledges the fact that these are quite different from game-based environments which have clearly defined goals, roles, rules, rewards, etc. Therefore, if your interest relates more to open-ended worlds, such as Second Life, that are used for a variety of purposes and are not focussed on a single unified game, then there may be less in this book for you than you would guess from the title.

Second, the Exodus part of the title made me think that the book would talk more about what will happen within virtual worlds when more of us spend more time in them (e.g., How will it change the ways we work, play, communicate, consume, etc? What are the legal and political implications since so many more of our interactions will involve people from other countries?), but as stated previously the book is more about how interacting within virtual environments will change our expectations for interactions outside of those environments. Related to this is the idea - which seems to stem in part from the games versus more multi-faceted worlds distinction made previously - that we will at any one time be in either the virtual world or the real world and not both simultaneously (at least in terms of our attention). My own belief is that over time virtual worlds will become integrated with the other parts of our lives just as the Web is now, but that type of integration is only discussed briefly in the book.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A thought-provoking speculative discussion 15 février 2009
Par Josh Sutphin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
In Exodus to the Virtual World, Dr. Edward Castronova explores a possible future wherein participation in virtual worlds and MMOs becomes so widespread that major social effects are felt here in the real world. He suggests that as more people spend more time in virtual worlds, they will come to expect the real world to provide many of the conveniences of those virtual worlds: more fairness, more opportunity, more fun. This, he theorizes, will lead to a conflict over attention between the real and the virtual, with the real world being forced to adopt social policies inspired by game design.

The author frequently suggests that game designers may be better-equipped than most to handle the social policy issues of the 21st century and beyond. As a game designer, I found this rather gratifying, though I remain skeptical whether it's actually true. However, the parallels he draws between social policy design and virtual world design are compelling, and many of the mechanics we find today in virtual worlds and MMOs are in fact elegant solutions to social issues that have yet to even be well-addressed in the real world.

This book is primarily a speculative, futurist work. Many of the author's claims go largely unsubstantiated precisely for that reason: they're speculations into one possible future. I had no problem with this, and the author makes it clear up front what type of book this is. You just have to come into it with the right mindset. That said, he does frequently reference verifiable present-day facts in order to establish trends which inform his projections, making them more educated predictions than wild guesses.

My only major complaint with the book is that, as the author has extrapolated the present state of virtual worlds and MMOs into a vision of future society, he's undertaken significant cognitive effort to evolve the social side of things, and spent almost no effort on the evolution of the virtual worlds and MMOs themselves. In effect, there seems to be an unstated assumption throughout the book that the design of virtual worlds and MMOs will remain largely static, and that the only variable will be the percentage of the population participating in them. But if the relatively brief history of video games shows us anything, it's that we can expect meteoric paradigm shifts in games around every 5-10 years. Relevant examples include the introduction of the first text-based MUD, the first graphical MUD, and the original Everquest. Why should we not expect similar paradigm shifts to dramatically alter the landscape of virtual worlds and MMOs in the next 5, 10, 20, even 50 years? And of course, these paradigm shifts will affect how users participate in those worlds, which will in turn affect their expectations of the real world in accordance with the author's theory.

Nevertheless, Exodus to the Virtual World comes well-recommended. It's a thought-provoking read for game designers and players alike, and I'm willing to bet some politicans could learn a thing or two from it as well. ;)
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Attention migration 22 août 2008
Par MarkusG - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
The central theme of Exodus is the concept of "attention migration". That is: that more and more people choose to immerse themselves in synthetic worlds (Castronova's word instead of "virtual worlds") - MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games), like Second Life and World of Warcraft. Today they have at least 16 million registered users, and the number is increasing quickly. Also, some of these synthetic worlds function like alternate societies with their own norms of conduct, citizenships, economies, codes and policies and so on. In a information society where attention is central, the increasing attention spent on synthetic worlds will (according to Castronova) create a "atmospeheric event"...
Castronova writes well and he discusses this social phenomenon and it's probable future impact in an interesting way. Though at times I think the discussion becomes a little repetitive, and I can't totally agree that "real" societies will have to become more "fun" and gamelike to compete with the synthetic counterparts. But it is a fascinating thought.
6 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Read this book 23 décembre 2007
Par B. Thomas-Moore - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This is a very interesting book that deserves more attention than I fear it's likely to get. The author has used his experiences with synthetic game-worlds to write a thought-provoking look at the social landscape of the future, and craft a compelling argument for the way games will influence "reality" in the years to come.

The author has more game-experience than I was expecting when I picked up this book, and has avoided the easy traps and overgeneralizations that often plague writers who are attempting to explain or interpret synthetic game-worlds. This lends his thesis on the economics of fun a verisimilitude that makes even his more extreme predictions seem a likely vision of what-might-be. Not only is this a book for the interested game, but even more it's a book for the businessman, and the policy-maker, who will more and more benefit from his insight into the games people play.
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