[LINK] 'World of Warcraft'
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Tue May 12 16:00:56 EST 2009
Virtual reality versus reality .. the difference is shrinking ..
Now, a self-contained World of Warcraft "pod" .. that is "an immersive
architectural solution for the advanced WoW (World of Warcraft) player
which provides and anticipates all life needs".
For example, "WoW has full voice chat functionality. It isnt uncommon
for people to log on just to interact with their social network while
their avatar just chills out in one of the games major cities. As a
result of this organization, you and your guildmates (spend) 2-4 nights
a week for 2-4 hours, then exchange game gold for money via ebay.
Here's the MIT WOW Pod (or hut) http://web.media.mit.edu/~cati/wowpod.html
Quoting the above site ..
The WOW Pod is an immersive architectural solution for the advanced WOW
(World of Warcraft) player that provides and anticipates all life needs.
Inside, the gamer finds him/herself comfortably seated in front of the
computer screen with easy-to-reach water, pre-packaged food, and a toilet
conveniently placed underneath his/her custom-built throne.
When hungry, the gamer selects a food item (Crunchy Spider Surprise,
Beer Basted Ribs, etc.) and a seasoning pack. By scanning in the food
items, the video game physically adjusts a hot plate to cook the item for
the correct amount of time. The virtual character then announces the
status of the meal to both the gamer and the other individuals playing
online: Vorcons meal is about to be done! Better eat the ribs while
theyre hot! etc.
When the food is ready, the system automatically puts the character in
AFK (Away From Keyboard) mode to provide the gamer a moment to eat.
When the player resumes playing, he/she might just discover his/her
characters behavior is affected by the food consumed in real life
sluggish from overeating or alternately exuberant and energetic.
The exterior of the WoW Pod mimics the look of authentic WOW
architectural structures, whose swaths of flat, pixellated surfaces
digitally recreate the built environment of an imagined past.
But upon crossing the threshold and entering into the WOW Pods interior,
the player finds the digitized look actually becomes the real life
experience that World of Warcraft simulates.
More info about WoW by Cati Vaucelle
World of Warcraft is the worlds most popular massive multi player online
role-playing game (MMORPG) with over 11.5 million monthly subscribers.
The player navigates their character (or avatar) through an incredibly
expansive world of fighting monsters fulfilling quests, joining groups
and guilds with other players. The game allows players to customize their
avatar: race, gender, and class are selected in addition to skin color,
hair color, piercing, tusks, etc. You start out looking pretty homely.
However, as a player gains experience and wealth in the game she
aggressively hunts specific pieces of gear to increase her characters
abilities and look more epic than less accomplished players. The
ability to highly customize your character, to choose what quests the
avatar will accept, and the highly social aspect of the game made World
of Warcraft not only the most popular video game ever but also one of the
The WOW experience is dependent on what kind of player you want to be.
Casual go on quests, play every now and then and probably pass on
anything too committal. Social Wow becomes your virtual community of
choice. You have friends. You interact with them everyday. This takes
precedence over killing bosses or getting loot. You probably belong to an
organized guild of your friends with minimal hierarchy. WoW has full
voice chat functionality. It isnt uncommon for people to log on just to
interact with their social network while their avatar just chills out in
one of the games major cities. Raider Youve maxed out your level. You
painstakingly research the best way to optimize your play style. Youve
easily played more than 30 days of game hours. You belong to a guild. It
is fairly militaristic with initiates and leaders and raid leaders and
class leaders, all with clearly defined responsibilities. As a result of
this organization, you and your guildmates , between 2-4 nights a week,
venture into the most difficult dungeons and defeat bosses that most
players never see, with the best gear as a reward. Thats 2-4 nights a
week for 2-4+ hours at a go. Gold Farmer You exclusively play the
games internal auction houses and the most lucrative most repetitive
quests to then exchange game gold for real money via ebay.
There is so much more to this game, it really is incredible, but these
are some of the distinctions and terms that are key to the WowPod.
The primary vehicles to get your character to advance in the game are
quests, instances and raids. Quests are most often done alone and require
simple tasks to net experience, gold and loot. Instances require 5
players of complementary abilities, healers, damage dealers, damage
takers, to work together to kill bosses and get better rewards than are
available with quests. Finally, raids require complete coordination
between 10 or 25 players who face a level of difficulty where one
players missed heal, or mis-positioning relative to a boss can kill an
entire group. Raids are high pressure and high commitment but also offer
the highest gear reward. Many guilds wont even consider taking you into
their raid groups unless they know you can raid a minimum of days with
that guild during the week, often two or more.
Inspiration for designing the WoW Pod
I am a hardcore gamer (maxed out level + guild co-GM), my avatar is a
warrior engineer (with both tank and DPS armor sets) and I always thought
I should engineer a project based on this experience and environment. The
AFK Cookset came from playing non-stop & burning my lap with my laptop. I
dont know why my macbook gets so hot when I play that game, but I
thought, this is definitely enough heat to cook my snacks!
Overall, this work ties into my research at the MIT Media Laboratory,
Tangible Media Group, specializing in the design of hybrid
physical/digital objects for play, performance and psycho-physiotherapy.
I create tactile interfaces to shift the body boundaries, exploring
technology mediated holding (from grabbing, to hugging, to being
secured) as a lever to personal growth. The WoWPod is a cocoon that
structures a relationship between your physical body and your avatar. The
avatar reminds you that you have a body and walks you through the process
of cooking in the very environment that tends to make physical and
virtual self ambiguous.
The need for such a Pod?
When you raid, youve got 24 other people from all over the place, all
sitting there ready to go, ready to try to kill such-and-such a boss.
Many nights, you try for hours and come away empty handed. Its just that
hard. The result is a pretty high pressure environment where breaks are
frowned upon. If youve got to wait every 10 minutes for someone to heat
up their microwave dinner, the whole group falls apart. The WoW pod plays
on this context to anticipate all life-needs of the advanced wow
player. Hardcore raiders could definitely use a pod. I could even imagine
a raid leader instructing a group to get in their pods because they would
have also calculated exactly how many extra minutes of boss-killing
attempts they would have gotten by the use of such a thing. Thats just
the way raids are.
Emptying a dish washer, for instance as in the video, interrupts your
gaming experience, and the gaming experience of your raid group. At the
higher levels of the game, you are dependent on one another to venture
into the newest and most challenging content. If your gaming experience
is interrupted, it will be perceived by your peers as a waste of time as
they wait for you to get back! By cooking and eating in the wow pod, not
only does your avatar take care of the food for you and announce to you
when the food is ready (so you dont have to wait in front of the stove),
but it also triggers discussions among peers. Imagine if every player had
an AFK cookset. An entire culture could emerge in these games around the
mediation between the virtual and real culinary world. You already see
this in the game. Raid food is synonymous with Hot Pockets because the
current raiding environment doesnt afford the opportunity to cook
anything significant. We used to make fun of each other during raids when
youd hear a player over the voice chat wolfing down chips, sounds like
raid dinner for Cati.
What materials is the Pod made from?
The walls are made of MDF wood painted with lacquer. We printed stencils
in acrylic sheets to create the texture and pixels on the outer shell of
the Pod. The inside is made of skin and fur, skin that Steve hunted with
his father back in the day when most kids were at home playing duck hunt.
For WOW we wanted to design a Pod that is both from the fantasized
universe of WOW while also representing the actual experience of the
game. The resulting flat, outside surfaces of the Pod are pixilated like
the skins of the buildings you see in the game. The inside of the Pod
supports a real fantasized experience with a wood-stained
throne/toilet/computer enclosure, and organic materials (no pun intended).
Do the avatars always announce the same thing when the meals about to
be ready? What does she announce?
Each recipe triggers a different avatar response, from comments to
behaviors. Jungle stew puts the avatar in a jungle mood and they start
dancing around before going AFK. After the avatar eats the food they will
fall asleep or sit down and wait for the player to catch up with their
dinner. When the player comes back from snacking, the avatar will resume
from its AFK mode and behavior.
How were you able to sync the avatar with the cooking device?
There are three pieces: a servo controlled hot-plate, a semacode reader,
and a piece of software that I wrote to connect between them and the
avatar. Each food packet, when scanned, is identified. It cues an avatar
behavior, turns on the hot-plate and starts a timer based on the required
cooking time. When the food is almost ready, the avatar gives the player
more cooking instructions for the final preparation of the meal. Finally,
when it is done, the avatar again reminds the player and the hot-plate
automatically turns off.
What are the reactions of players towards the Pod?
WoW players I met LOVE the WoW Pod and want one! It's like a custom
furniture feature directly relishing in the game. The fascinating part is
the fact that this artifact appears to have been extracted from the game
and is now part of your bedroom! However, it is an art piece with no
intention to commercialize it. This often gets lost in the blogosphere. I
presented the project to many WOW players who would all love to have a
pod in their room, to the exception that they would rather have it closed
with an LED sign at the door of the pod that says Busy, raiding, come
back in 5 hours, mom! We wanted the door to be opened because, as an art
piece, we wanted to avoid the superficiality of the pod as a tool
exclusively for isolation. Yes, these games can be time-consuming and all-
enveloping, but working within that culture, we have an affection for the
game and its players. We wanted the pod to express the dialog between the
player and their avatar in the context of their game needs.
Any plans to make WoW Pods and/or AFK Cooksets to sell?
No, it is exclusively an Art piece. However as part of my PhD I am
researching on ways to link the physical world to the digital
environment, and virtual massive multiplayers game. I am hoping to look
into the cookset as means to provoke exchange, discussions about the food
lives of players in relation to their habits. They took care of their
avatar, feed them, give them water, make them do crazy adventures; Now
their avatar will take care of them, feed them and give them water!
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