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There Inc - Propagating the Bad of Society? 43

An anonymous reader writes "A former beta tester has written up a negative, but interesting, review of the 'virtual world' MMO title There. While it mainly contains sarcastic remarks directed at the game mechanics (or lack there-of), near the end it also claims that There is 'a mirror of the shallowest possible view of American consumerist society.' It concludes by saying that There is missing anything that would classify it as a game, and that as a chat service it capitalizes on 'our society's tendency to believe that being attractive is a prerequisite for being accepted by others.' Should developers try to be aware of whether their game will reproduce negative trends already present in real life?" We recently ran a story on the official launch of There, a game that has its fans as well as its detractors.
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There Inc - Propagating the Bad of Society?

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  • by I(rispee_I(reme ( 310391 ) on Saturday November 08, 2003 @11:18PM (#7426766) Journal
    Godwin's law would be invoked already:

    Have you ever wondered what sort of society Hitler would have envisioned if he had grown up in modern times and watched waaay too much MTV? Well I used to, and then I beta tested a game called There...
  • Who Cares (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bob65 ( 590395 )
    Should developers try to be aware of whether their game will reproduce negative trends already present in real life?

    I think they do already. Should they care? Well that's up to them. Should they have to care? No. Should we care? That depends who you are.

  • by Kraken137 ( 15062 ) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @12:14AM (#7426968) Homepage
    When I first heard about it, I saw the word 'metaverse' bandied around. I was also led to believe that it would be amazing looking. So, I signed up to be a beta tester. Some time later, I got an email inviting me to download and install <i>There</i>. I installed windows on a spare partition, installed the 'game', and cranked it up.

    The disappointment in my apartment was thick enough to cut with a knife. <i>There</i> is like the metaverse in the same way that ENIAC with a few thousand blown tubes is like ASCI White. I agree with all the points outlined in that article - <i>There</i> isn't.
  • Sims Online is way better...with a heck of a lot more content.

    Alternatively if you want a more adult experience Second Life has better graphics...and more revealing outfits.

    If "there" was free and then charged you 15 cents for buying extra clothing or doodads, you could understand it and it might even kinda cute, but when they want a monthly payment and then nickel and diming you on top...that just gets annoying.

    • The author mentioned Second Life on page three [], which is also where the crux of the review lies.

      I haven't played Second Life [] (though I have been accepted into the beta []), it seems to offer a lot more gameplay than There does, and looks to be a more innovative title, offering users the ability to edit their world, and create any object they can imagine, given they're adapt and patient enough to work with their rudimentary 3d modeling tools.
      • by Bishop ( 4500 ) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @01:36AM (#7427237)
        Second Life looks to be a much better "game." Stephenson's Metaverse is often refrenced. Second Life looks to be closer to a Metaverse then There.

        Second Life seems to encourage player content and player control. It is interesting how players are rewarded for makeing good content. Players are able to charge other players fees for products, land, and access to land (services). There are monthly stipends with bonuses for high, player generated, ratings. There are tools for radically altering a characters apearence, and building almost anything. The scripting language looks to fairly powerfull. Players can even alter terrain.

        I find it equally interesting that I was able to learn about Second Life through there own online documentation. Second Life seems to be quite open about what there "game" is. Whereas most links on the There website require an account to access.

        Second Life looks to be a very ambitious project. It will be interesting to see if they can pull it off. I am quite interested if the balance of player control will work, or if Second Life will degenerate into a trollfest like some many other services online.
        • Projects like Second Life are almost guaranteed to have a certain level of success if they have the team skills to put together such a project. The only problem is what gets most MMO games, the randomness of human behavior when the game tries to go mass market. Obviously, the more people there are the harder it is to manage things. A small group of 5 or so people can control a couple hundred people with a few 'super weapons' (a couple dozen level 50 characters, the ability to summon several of the most powe
        • A couple of things: Stipends are weekly and as for trolls/griefers, Linden Lab takes very good care of their game, having several Liaisons in the game to help players, announce events, and get rid of unwanted people.
          They're all very nice and friendly, and most if not all are veteran players working from their home, though now that they're working for Linden Lab they usually dont spend as much time on their player accounts.
          All the devs and employees in general have accounts in the game, and even the CEO play
      • You were accepted into the beta? When? The beta was over months ago! In June, IIRC.
        There's lots of stuff to do over there even if you dont want to build anything. There's a huge racetrack, free vehicles, a pretty big amusement park, casino games, and the best thing about all of this is that you dont have to keep pumping money into the system.
        Want clothes? You have built-in tools for making your own clothes. Want a car, a hoverboard, a balloon, a rocket, a boat? You can easily make them yourself, or buy them
      • Second Life is a *very* interesting MMORPG development. I really want to see where it leads. I tried it a couple of weeks ago and just played it continuously for a week. No time to eat, barely time to sleep, ridiculous hours. I pulled the plug eventually, but will surely go back. This game is ground-breaking.

      • "I haven't played Second Life (though I have been accepted into the beta), it seems to offer a lot more gameplay than There does, "

        Huh? Second life has been out of beta for a few months now. If you are still waiting for your invitation to sign up, consider this it.

        "There" (which is actually a rather poor choice of names since not putting it in quotes almost always leads to a confusing sentence) is way too cartoonish to me. Microsoft experimented with chat bubbles in one of the versions of MS Chat a
  • ...If you could transfer some of that T$ and T-merchandise and T-chicks, etc from the game to the real world, instead of the currently used way, of sucking your entire financial worth into looking good in a game? :)

  • Beta test (Score:4, Interesting)

    by chizu ( 669687 ) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @12:35AM (#7427031) Homepage
    I was a beta tester near the very end of the beta. I thought this "game" was really shallow and boring. There was just nothing to do but stand around and talk to people, unless you wanted to pay another $10 to play a game in this "game". "There" was very bad from a technical standpoint, it uses internet explorer as a major engine component and refused to run while Mozilla was my default browser. Then there is the cost of "There". Looks cheap at first, and it is if you were a beta tester (all of the stuff about to be mentioned costs a total of $30 for beta testers). But if your the average player the costs will shoot through the roof before you even play. $20 to start, $30 for sound, $50 for a graphics pack. Then $5 bucks a month. Then the fees to get anything done in there, $5 bucks to buy virtual shoes, $5 more for a shirt, $5 more for a buggy ride. This is all real money. Then your limited to 640x480 res and the poor graphics make a GeForce4 TI 4600 and P4 2.4GHz chug. It's the most lacking and expensive online "game" I've ever seen. Even the notoriously buggy anarchy online played better at launch than There does now.

    If you want a good online gaming experiance stick with everquest, anarchy online or dark age of camelot. Heck, diablo 2 or even just something like UT offer a better online experiance. There just isn't worth it.
    • I think that might be the entire point of this review. There is not a game, though /. and the creators (There Inc.) seem to want to believe it, the latter going so far as to market it as such.

      The points you make as per it having poor graphics and utilizing IE usher home that sentiment. In all honesty, this article should be on the Slashdot front page or Ask Slashdot instead of further misleading consumers.
    • I had high hopes for this game but after reading your review, I wasn't surprised. "There" should follow Google's golden rule, "If the users come, so will the money." Someone with a little too much power at There has put high prices on everything. Instead they should focus on getting a user base even though it will burn a little more capital (of which they have plenty).
  • by Cali Thalen ( 627449 ) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @12:59AM (#7427114) Homepage
    Some socially mal-adjusted gamer logs into a beta 'game' and talks about how it's 1) not complete, and 2) not fun chatting with people.

    Forget the fact that the very first sentance uses a Hitler reference. He's certainly not the right person to write a review about There, or anything else for that matter.

    For those who might actually be interested in what There is, it's a half-finished (if that) online community (metaverse? maybe). There are both social and gaming aspects, so it's not completely either one. If you don't like to interact with other people, you won't have fun. If all you like to do is play FPS or PRG games, it's not for you.

    There is a place to meet people. It's a place to interact, through social, game, or contest activities. You can start or join clubs, race vehicles, hold classes, participate in trivia and quest contest. You can modify your 'avatar' appearance, and buy clothes designed by other players. Even the vehicles can be skinned and even modeled in some cases.

    Even if you are not a social person, there is plenty to keep you busy for at least a few hours a week, and There plans to add more content over time. There will be yahoo-esque games such as cards planned in the near future.

    I am not at all the target There member (I'm more of an RPG gamer), but I've still been playing since early in the beta, and I've yet to get bored. Any 'game' that can hold my attention for mroe than 9 months, especially one that's still in development, seems like a pretty well-made experiment.

  • That review was hilarious despite the bias. Anyway, I don't mind the existance of There of it keeps all the creeps away from the rest of the internet.
    • by Glytch ( 4881 )
      There will alwys be more creeps [] on the net than one single creepsink can handle. It's a law of the universe.
  • Should developers try to be aware of whether their game will reproduce negative trends already present in real life?

    Developers should try to be aware of what management wants. Management should try to be aware of what consumers want.

    Let the armchair psychologists and talking heads worry about this other crap.
  • The picture on the last page of the review:

    "So, you're both really men, aren't you?"

  • I thought his character looked a bit like Vyvyan minus the metal.
  • This is a very weak article, and only reinforces the image of geeks as judgmental know-it-alls. Some people just like to walk around and chat with different people. I like Flight Sim, but maybe he likes BF1942. Not only is his 'review' grossly biased, but it is also inaccurate. For instance, he makes the remark that the monthly plan for There has an activation fee, and then rhetorically asks how many other games have an activation fee. He answers 'NONE!'... I answer 'MOST!', what does he consider the $
    • The $45 at Best Buy gets you a tangible item... you gain a CD, a manual, a snazzy box. Ok, ok, that's weak, but its how games have always been, and it's not likely to change merely because they're massively multiplayer.

      I guess my problem with what you said is that you're saying it's acceptable for There Inc. to charge you a one time fee to join the game, but only if you're paying on a monthly basis, and completely ignoring the fact that the people who sign up for a year pay no "activation fee." By that rat
  • It's one massive big sprawling chat room. Thus, it will reflect chat room behaviour, not game behaviour.
  • I had the same feelings about the Sims, though Sims is a good game and all, it also sends the message:
    Money + Material goods + "Friends" = Success

    Everyone likes income, toys and friends, but not on such a shallow level as the game reflects it to be. Money is an enabler, not an asset, and it would be interesting to see if this does have some overlapping effects on peoples attitudes in their lives.
  • by Call Me Black Cloud ( 616282 ) on Sunday November 09, 2003 @12:08PM (#7428806)
    So he didn't like it. This is newsworthy?

    I visit There from time to time (as BlackCloud). I want to make a few remarks:

    The landscape is much more interesting and varied than he makes it out to be (once you've had your fill of two-tone landscapes). See below for a link to take your own tour.

    Who would want to socialize with someone so lacking in personality as starting avatars seem to be?? On one had he equates personality with the initial garb, on the other he complains about the consumer aspect of the game.

    My original character sported, aside from a perfectly trapezoidal head, a red mohawk that cost most of my starting money. After that I only had enough money for some cheap black pants. Needless to say, I wouldn't make many friends in There. Notice he said "wouldn't", not "didn't". One of the most popular people I know in There dresses badly, has a freakish head with a wild white afro and sports a pot belly. Why is he popular? He's funny and a great conversationalist. No one is ignored in There because of how they look.

    uessing muscular chest skins and leather-esque pants are hot commodities in There... among 40-50 year old truck drivers, anyway. This isn't any different than an 22 year old guy pretending to be a female elf from the safety of his parents' basement.

    There Inc. is charging people to create content, and charging other people to use that content. Yes, and it makes sense for a couple of reasons. All uploaded content is reviewed before being allowed into the game to keep out obscene or copyrighted material. I suspect the fee (besides paying for the review) also keeps inflation in check. If creating content was free, and you could sell said content at whatever price, soon there would be a glut of money. Content would be a way to manufacture money. There's economy was designed by real economists, by the way.

    Once you pay the cover charge required by many of There's events Many, but not most.

    however don't even think about joining a group that already has more than eight people in it... nobody could communicate with that many people at once! How is this a problem with the game?

    Many emotes cause your character to do some action, or an icon to spring from various parts of their body. They've introduced dance moves recently too :) The emotes are suprisingly effective at making the game more immersive.

    Well, since the other plan doesn't come with an activation fee, I'm going to guess it's just a clever way of saying they're "activating" their need for more money. The other plan doesn't come with a monthly stipend either. The exchange rate is $1 = T$1787, so each month you get $4.95 worth of T$. The monthly charge is also $4.95, so you get the game for the price of the activation fee. That's not a bad deal since money is useful (though not necessary) in There. Every virtual world needs some form of exchange.

    This is evidenced by the sheer amount of benches and loveseats scattered around the land I found them a more convenient place to chat 1 on 1. Standing is fine too but sitting prevents you have 2 people in a conversation no one else can join.

    There, Inc. is capitalizing on our society's tendency to believe that being attractive I wish I could find the link to the article I read here on Slashdot about Everquest. It gave some stats the showed players overwhelmingly favored the more attractive races (like elves) compared to the uglier ones (such as gnomes). And in There you can be as good looking or ugly as you want to be. If you spend a little time in There you'll see it's personality that makes one popular, and generosity (you can loan anything you have, from clothes to vehicles, and recall those items whenever you want).

    Take a look around there yourself at this site []

    It looks like There is also going to do some open source work []

  • MMORPG (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Night0wl ( 251522 ) <.iandow. .at.> on Sunday November 09, 2003 @01:42PM (#7429263) Homepage Journal
    I noticed this article a few days before slashdots posting of it. And for the most part the author is a troll, and I'm ashamed to share the "Owl" part of his nickname with him.
    I've played There for several months in the beta, and continue to to this day. All of his points are valid, the land scape does not have copious ammounts of variation. People tend to all be beautiful.
    But if you are an obnoxious troll who seeks only to berate the game and other people, you will be ignored and shunned in There. Just as you would in real life. I suspect that the author of this article didn't find any friends, and rather then tempting to right that in some way he got pissy and left the game.

    Also, his credability-for my self-was lost when he called it an "MMORPG"

    There are many things out there that can be considered an MMORPG, this is *not* one of them. There is no role playing here. I'm not castic a magic spell to slay a rat. I'm not using my space pistol to shoot a rat. I'm not swinging my sword to kill a rat. I'm conversing with a wide array of people in a digital world, that just happens to have buggies, bikes, boards, and so forth.
    • There is no role playing here. I'm not castic a magic spell to slay a rat. I'm not using my space pistol to shoot a rat. I'm not swinging my sword to kill a rat. I'm conversing with a wide array of people in a digital world, that just happens to have buggies, bikes, boards, and so forth.

      You're being represented by an avatar which you create, and interacting with others through that avatar. Despite the fact that you're not taking on the role of a hero (or as someone who kills rats), you're still taking on

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