Wednesday, February 26, 2014

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Top 5 Games Beyond Second Life - NWN Readers' Choice

Guild Wars 2 Bees
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Let no one say that Second Life users aren't still gamers through and through. Last week I asked you what your favorite games are, and I'll admit that the enthusiastic response that followed here, in Plurk, and in my inbox took me completely by surprise. Some of your picks were just as surprising, too.

So what are the top five games New World Notes' readers love to play (outside of the metavese, of course)? You'll find out after the jump!

5. World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft Character Updates

Okay okay, so number five is far from the most surprising title on this list. What is surprising is the fact that it isn't closer to the top. About half of the games that you all nominated were MMOs, and WoW edged several of them out by only a single vote. What's clear is that many of you love playing games with other people and not just bots and NPCs, and WoW remains one of the top choices in that regard, and considering the emphasis that Blizzard has recently put on updating the game's older content, it will likely stay that way for some time.

4. Dragon Age

Dragon Age Anora

Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 aren't exactly old games, but they are old enough that their frequent mention caught me a little off-guard. When counting votes I tended to bunch series' up together, and Dragon Age absolutely trounced others like Mass Effect, BioShock, and even Grand Theft Auto. It turns out that not only do many of NWN's readers love MMOs, but they love RPGs... Particularly ones that take place in fantasy settings. The fact that the Dragon Age games also offer a flexible story path and significant control over the player character, both things that people invested in a free-form virtual world are likely to appreciate, certainly can't hurt either.

3. Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 Queen's Garden

Did I mention MMOs? Seriously, you folks love your MMOs. Guild Wars 2 is an absolutely beautiful game that, in an arena full of competitors just trying to replicate WoW, took a few risks with its gameplay and world that seem to have paid off. The game's lack of a monthly subscription fee has also certainly helped its popularity -- there's no need to worry about getting your money's worth, about cancelling or re-subscribing if you've been too busy to play. It's a low-pressure approach supported by the initial game purchase and a non-invasive cash shop that keeps players from feeling exploited, and more MMO developers would be wise to adopt it.

2. Minecraft

Minecraft kimono

Though there were a few shout-outs to Starbound (high-five, cool kids!) Minecraft definitely dominated when it came to sandbox games. It helps that Minecraft can be a very social experience, whether you're on a server with others or you're participating in the incredibly active community surrounding it, while the game's regular updates and flexibility with modded content make it almost endlessly replayable. Once upon a time, the popular opinion in the comments here on New World Notes was that Minecraft's "blocky" visuals looked dated and unappealing, so I'm pretty thrilled to see that so many of you are so into it. It's a wonderful little thing.

1. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Skyrim Nightingale

It's not exactly the shock of the century that Skyrim has captured hearts and minds across the gaming world, even reaching right in to the metaverse. Be who you want to be, go where you want to go, do what you want to do; the entire premise of the Elder Scrolls games is so perfectly in line with the kind of virtual experiences that many of us are after. Add to that the fondness for medieval fantasy that I mentioned earlier and how incredibly easy it is to bend the game to your every whim with the plethora of mods available and... Well, how could the top game be anything other than Skyrim? It was an absolute landslide.

An honorable mention goes out to tabletop games. From cards to boards to pen & paper, quite a few of you mentioned that you like to indulge in a more old school variety of gaming every now and then. Board games have seen a particular resurgence in popularity in the past few years but even so, who doesn't love a good game of chess from time to time?

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times, and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.


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Garry's Mod 13 is an integrated mashup of Gamification + Metaverse all-in-one for one-time 20 Euros, it operates under the Steam viewer with no monthly tiers, including mobile + TV + 3D stereoscopic + Playstaion + XBox.

GMod stooped down to integrate both functionalities, Second Life missed the train to stoop up with this piece of Convergence Culture.

The Killer sentence in Wikipedia...

"Although Garry's Mod is usually considered to be a full game, it has no game objective and players can use the game's set of tools for any purpose whatsoever. Garry's Mod allows players to manipulate items, furniture and "props" – various objects that players can place in-game. Props can be selected from any installed Source engine game or from a community created collection."

Ms. CC Creeggan (CronoCloud Creeggan)

@Hairy: Garry's Mod doesn't run on the PS3 or PS4 I don't know where you're getting that idea.

Garry's Mod also isn't a virtual world, the majority of it's use is as a machinima tool. Yes you can place stuff in it, but it's not like SL, where you can just go get stuff WITHIN SL. It's also not an interconnected world.

@Iris: Was a bit surprised by Guild Wars being #3...was expecting Mass Effect in that slot. Was not surprised to see Skyrim at #1.

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