« Conference Report: On Zero One/ISEA 2006 | Main | Liverpool Biennial Conference: City Breaks? »

August 25, 2006

State of Play


Conference Heads East

Aaron Delwiche of San Antonio’s Trinity University and the Terra Nova blog posts the news that the next State of Play conference will be held January 7-9 in Singapore. “We are convening thought leaders from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas to engage in a lively discussion about the unique regulatory and cross-cultural challenges posed by the growth of transnational virtual worlds.” It’s an interesting choice of location for what’s probably the most forward-thinking conference on virtual worlds. Asia has more virtual world “residents” than any other region of the world, and has seen a number of legal decision handed down that treat virtual worlds more like real places — with real property laws — than any in the West. Singapore will be tough to get to for many Western-Hemisphere VW pundits, but it also opens the dialogue to people we haven’t heard that much from on te other side of the world.

As Aaron’s post (and the SoP splash page) puts it:

Throughout Asia, people of all ages are gathering in cybercafes to participate in “deep” virtual worlds such as Lineage II and World of Warcraft or to play casual titles such as PangYa. With the highest broadband penetration rate of any country on the planet, Korea is currently an epicenter of gaming innovation, pioneering a free-to-play business model that seriously threatens subscription-based titles. Meanwhile, analysts note that India is poised to become a huge player once it builds out the necessary technological infrastructure. India is already the region’s third largest market for on-line games, despite the fact that less than .02% of the population has broadband access.

When you take into account the fact that NGOs and many government development agencies hope to seed the Asia Pacific region with inexpensive wireless broadband notebooks, it is clear that we are witnessing something completely unprecedented. We are eager to tease out the implications of these developments, and are intentionally convening virtual world industry experts, game scholars and technological neophytes to deepen our shared understanding.

Interestingly, the splash page also flags a New York State of Play this October, but there doesn’t seem to be any information about it on the site. I spoke on a panel on virtual journalism (Reporting from the Front) at last year’s event, which was a fantastic gathering of thinkers in the space. Among the speakers flagged for Singapore are Neal Stephenson, Cory Doctorow and Julian Dibbell, who will be holding “an extemporaneous discussion about the future of virtual worlds,” Alice Taylor, Nick Yee, Ren Reynolds, Richard Bartle and a handful of other similarly impressive names.

I haven’t made travel arrangements yet, but hopefully I’ll be there. I have made travel arrangements to get myself to Austin next month, where I’ll be flapping my gums on a very cool panel at the Austin Game Conference, but more about that in an upcoming post. [blogged by Mark Wallace on 3pointD]

Posted by jo at August 25, 2006 06:49 PM