Why DayZ's Open Ended Gaming Has Become So Popular
Russell Brandom of BuzzFeed has a good profile of Joss Widdowson, the real world photographer who I wrote about recently, after he wound up becoming an embedded war photographer in DayZ, the mini-MMO sandbox survival game. I'm briefly quoted in the column, answering a question from Russell about where DayZ stood in comparison to Second Life and World of Warcraft. My full answer, answering that, and also speculating why it's recently become so popular, and led to so much emergent behavior, was this:
"DayZ seems to attract the kind of gamer who loves military-style shooters but has recently realized the possibilities inherent in an open-ended, multiplayer sandbox game like Minecraft. As an online world experience, it seems to sit between a virtual world like Second Life, which has no explicit game mechanics, and World of Warcraft, where the mechanics (character class, level, etc.) are all-pervasive. DayZ is a game where the only goal is to avoid death -- which frees up players to be imaginative about what they'll do with their virtual lives. Which even includes being a photojournalist in the apocalypse."