Archives for October 2008

Weekend Whimsy

1. Protest – Second Life

2. Halloween in Second Life – 2008

3. Halloween Humbug

(This one is from Aussie SL content developers Top Dingo)

4. Lill Paradise Championship Rodeo 2008

Mental hospital phone menu

Hello and thank you for calling The State Mental Hospital.  

Please select from the following options menu:  

If you are  obsessive-compulsive, press 1   repeatedly.  

If you are  co-dependent,  please ask someone to press 2 for you.

If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.  

If you are  paranoid, we know who you are and what you want, stay on the line so we can trace your call.  

If you are  delusional, press 7 and your call will be forwarded to the Mother Ship.  

If you are  schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell You which number to press.  

If you are  manic-depressive, hang up. It  doesn’t matter which number you press, nothing will make you happy anyway.  
If you are  dyslexic, press 9-6-9-6.  

If you are  bipolar, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep or after the beep.
But please wait for the beep.  

If you have  short-term memory loss, press 9.

If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.

If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.  

If you have  low self-esteem, please hang up.

Our operators are too busy to talk with you.  

If you are  menopausal, put the gun down, hang up, turn on the fan, lie down and cry.

How the government works

A little boy goes to his dad and asks, ‘What is Politics?’

Dad says, ‘Well son, let me try to explain it this way: I am the head of the family, so call me The President. Your mother is the administrator of the money, so we call her the Government.

We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you the People.

The nanny, we will consider her the working Class. And your baby brother, we will call him the Future. Now think about that and see if it makes sense.’

So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said.

Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him.

He finds that the baby has severely soiled his diaper. So the little boy goes to his parents’ room and finds his mother asleep.  Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny’s room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the nanny.

He gives up and goes back to bed.

The next morning, the little boy says to his father, ‘Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now.’ The father says, ‘Good, son,tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.’

The little boy replies, ‘The President is screwing the Working Class while the Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and the Future is in deep shit.

Openlife sees benefit of Linden Lab price rise

The past 48 hours have been fascinating to observe. Since the announcement by Linden Lab of price rises for OpenSpaces sims in Second Life, there have been protests, petitions and the odd paragraph of doom-saying. It’s been one of the larger resident backlashes since the gambling and banking bans, and some are voting with their feet already.

Bettina Tizzy has reported on a not insignificant influx of new registrations to the Openlife grid, run by aussie Steve Sima (profile here). The number is more than 800 since the announcement, taking the resident count above the thirty-two thousand mark. (Update: Steve Sima states that more than 2000 have now registered since the Linden Lab announcement)

That’s small change compared to Second Life but it’s a nice base from which to grow – something we discussed back in September. It’s a grid not as developed as Second life but that gap continues to close. The challenge for Openlife will increase if the spike in new user registrations continues – as Linden Lab only know too well, concurrency and scalability are big hurdles to jump. To that end, a development office in Taiwan is in the process of being set up, so it appears Openlife is a grid on the move.

On being level 70

Early this year I wrote about my initial experiences with World of Warcraft. Since then I’ve been grinding away and recently I reached the Holy Grail of Level 70.

I didn’t track the hours spent reaching the top but I’ve read estimates of 250 hours and that seems about right from my experience.

My thoughts on World of Warcraft after surviving this far:

1. Like any good MMO, the quests are challenging enough to keep you grinding through the levels.

2. Solo play is surprisingly engaging, although I’m biased having played a Mage – I’d be interested in hearing the perspective of other classes.

3. The performance of the game is exemplary – the servers are up and running pretty much 100% of the time except for the scheduled weekly to fortnightly maintenance on a Tuesday. That service level has dropped recently with the latest patch and preparation for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, but given the scope of the change it’s not unexpected.

4. I wish I’d got involved with battlegrounds much earlier on in the piece. They’re not only fun but I had totally failed to grasp the importance of honour points and am now playing a very large catch-up.

Unless you’re a WoW player yourself, this all may be a little boring, but I am actually working towards a point here. In the past decade, the time spent per game has increased incredibly. Some hardcore gamers I know would cover off a complete game in 10-30 hours. With the current MMOs, you’re looking at potentially hundreds of hours just to level up. Since hitting Level 70, I’ve spent roughly another 150 hours in WoW. Thanks to the recent achievements system implementation, I know that I’ve achieved 69 out of a possible 750 achievement points. This means I could easily spend another couple of thousand hours before the expansion arrives in a couple of weeks. You don’t need me to tell you that’s a lot of time.

It’s time that has to come at the expense of other activities, whether they be other recreational pursuits, time with family and friends, sleep or work. The obvious response to this is – “well you don’t need to achieve everything” – and that’s true. However, the intrinsic structure of most MMOs works toward the opposite. The WoW achievement system is a classic example – it directly motivates players to do quests they otherwise may not have done. Is that a problem? I think in a minority of cases it is.

That said, I was certainly chuffed to reach level 70 and when I pick up the expansion pack I’ll happily work toward level 80. The recent addition of a Barber Shop for avatar facial customisation was a godsend given I kept the bog standard face when I first registered. Now if only I could buy land…

Oh, shoot!

His request approved, the Fox News photographer quickly used a cell phone to call the local airport to charter a flight. He was told a twin engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport.

Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger. He jumped in with his bag, slammed the door shut, and shouted, ‘Let’s go’.

The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off. Once in the air, the photographer instructed the pilot,’ Fly over the valley and make low passes so I can take pictures of the fires on the hillsides.’

‘Why?’ asked the pilot.

‘Because I’m a photographer for Fox Cable News,’ he responded. ‘And I need to get some close up shots.’

The pilot was strangely silent for a moment, finally he stammered, ‘So, what you’re telling me, is . . . you’re NOT my flight instructor?’

An uplifting story

This letter was sent to the principal’s office after the school had
sponsored a luncheon for the elderly. An old lady received a new radio at the lunch as a door prize and was writing to say thank you.

This story is a credit to all humankind.

Dear St Josephs School:

God bless you for the beautiful radio I won at your recent senior citizens luncheon.

I am 84 years old and live at Grove Park, Home for the Aged. All of my family has passed away. I am all alone and I want to thank you for your kindness to an old forgotten lady.

My roommate is 95 and has always had her own radio. Before I received
one, she would never let me listen to hers, even when she was napping.

The other day her radio fell off the nightstand and broke into a lot of pieces. It was awful and she was in tears.

She asked if she could listen to mine, and I told her to f*ck off.

Thank you for that opportunity.



Jet fuel

Dave and Wally were a couple of drinking buddies who worked as Aircraft mechanics in Los Angeles.

 One day the airport was fogged in and they were stuck in the hangar with nothing to do.

 Dave said, ‘Man, I wish we had something to drink!’

Wally says, ‘Me too. Y’know, I’ve heard you can drink jet fuel and get a buzz. You wanna try it?’

So they pour themselves a couple of glasses of high octane booze and get completely smashed.

 The next morning Dave wakes up and is surprised at how good he feels.

 In fact he feels GREAT! NO hangover! NO bad side effects.


 Then the phone rings. It’s Wally.

 Wally says, ‘Hey, how do you feel this morning?’

 Dave says, ‘I feel great, how about you?’

 Wally says, ‘I feel great, too. You don’t have a hangover?’

 Dave says, ‘No that jet fuel is great stuff — no hangover, nothing. We ought to do this more often.’

 Yeah, well there’s just one thing.’ ‘What’s that?’

 ‘Have you farted yet?’


‘Well, don’t, cause I’m in New York.’

The most successful virtual world: Nintendo Wii

Here’s an astounding statistic: nearly 36 million Nintendo Wii consoles have been sold, and that’s a conservative figure. The Wii is streets ahead of the Sony Playstation 3 and the Xbox 360, and is likely to eclipse behemoths like the Playstation 2 – Sony have shifted nearly 120 million of those but the Wii is at a much earlier stage in its lifecycle than the moribund PS2.

Compare those numbers to even the largest virtual worlds like Habbo and World of Warcraft and they emphasise the dominance of game consoles over similar PC-based activities. It remains difficult in some parts of Australia to buy a Wii over the counter – three months ago when I purchased mine, it took three attempts at three different stores before I was able to pick one up. When I finally did so and set it up, I was really gobsmacked at the centrality avatars are given on the Wii.

It’s all about Mii

A key part of the Wii experience is creating your avatar – your Mii (pronounced ‘me’). Every Mii is highly customisable and it’s very simple to go back at anytime and change your Mii’s appearance. In the pre-teen market this alone can provide hours of entertainment – I’ve seen kids aged between six and ten endlessly altering their Mii. Once your chosen Mii is set up, it then follows you into the Wii games you play. The Wii Fit utilises your avatar totally – it’s truly you as you enter a bunch of personal details like height, weight and eating habits . In the more game-like experiences such as Mario Kart, you can race your Mii against characters like Mario, Bowser and Princess Peach.

I feel connected

All that said, an avatar alone does not a virtual world make – the key is the Wii’s internet connectivity. Your Mii can mix with others you grant access and scores or Wii Fit results can be shared. There’s Mii contests and most games have some sort of online mode – Mario Kart for example allows you to race against other players worldwide, which is enormously fun. Actually getting connected is fairly simple, assuming you know the basic of wireless networking.

Not surprisingly, there’s also a Wii Shopping Channel where you can buy credits that can be exchanged for a range of products including old Nintendo Classic games like the original Mario and Zelda games. They work out at over $10 per download which isn’t cheap given their age, but the pull of sentimentality and convenience is likely to persuade some.

The contender for the title

There’s no standout aspect in the Wii offering that makes it a dominant virtual world contender – though the motion-aware Wii controller is an amazing piece of gear that cements that link between you and your avatar. It’s the overall offering that makes me think it’s likely to come out on top. Specifically:

  • It’s extremely easy to set up after purchase
  • You’re guided every step of the way when performing any activity the first few times
  • It’s plain fun
  • It has wide age appeal
  • It’s already got a lions share of the console market, and that’s only going to increase in the medium term
  • On the age aspect, I’ve seen people in their 60’s immediately grasp the avatar concept as it’s presented on the Wii – two had never owned a computer. The Wii is far from unique in its offering – the Xbox 360 is testament to that. However, Nintendo appear to have created a product that has penetrated the mainstream entertainment market in a way no other console has to date. When you’ve got grandparents happily retelling stories of playing Wii sports with their grandchildren, something fundamental has occurred in the way gaming is perceived in society. Sony’s Home offering may provide some stiff competition in the medium term – but until then it’ll be fascinating to see how much the Wii saturates the market.

    So there’s my hypothesis: by 2010 the Nintendo Wii will contain the world’s most populated virtual world. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this.

    A big thanks to beastandbean on Flickr for the Wii Fit photo and to gamesweasel for the Mario Kart Wii pic.

    Fannie Green

     A man enters a confessional and says to the Irish Priest,                
    ‘Father, it has been one month since my last confession and I’ve sinned  with Fannie Green every week for the last month.’                        
    The priest tells the sinner,                                            
    ‘You are forgiven. Go out and say three ‘Hail Mary’s’.’                  
    Soon, another man enters the confessional.                               
    ‘Father, it has been two months since my last confession. I have sinned with Fannie Green twice a week for the last two months.’                 
    This time the priest asks,                                              
    ‘Who is this Fannie Green?’                                              
    ‘A new woman in the neighbourhood,’ the sinner replies                   

    ‘Very well,’ says the priest. ‘Go and say ten ‘Hail Mary’s’.             
    The next morning in church, the priest is preparing to deliver his sermon when a gorgeous, tall woman enters the church.                           

    All the men’s eyes fall upon her as she slowly sashays up the aisle and sits down in front of the Altar.                                         
    Her dress is green and very short, with matching shiny emerald
    green shoes.                                                     

    The priest and altar boy gasp as the woman sits down with her legs slightly spread apart, Sharon Stone-style.                                                      

    The priest turns to the altar boy and whisperingly asks,                 
    ‘Is that Fannie Green?’                                                 
    The altar boy replies, …………………………                    
    ‘No Father, I think it’s just the reflection off her shoes’              

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