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MMORPG and Virtual Worlds: Recreating Jazzy 50’s ’60s


Anyone watch that Gamer Revolution on TV last night? part 1 ? Y’know I was thinking about the whole issue of ‘if you are immersed in a violent world, you trigger your violent bits in your brain’ question. Am I more violent when I play games? Do I act aggressively? Do I bash the keyboard, throw tantrums, bang my head against my screen?

Hell yeah!

That’s the point for me. Gets rid of some aggro and frustration. Allows me to turn away from work stress or insignificant-other stress or whatever. A bit like saying that boxing or jogging relieves stress and aggression. There’s nothing like killing a really wicked dragon or some evil despot to get you out of a bad mood. And not all games are killing Arabs. There’s even a few killing Germans. heh. I like killing dragons best – little ones that don’t bite back (much).

We are starting to see more variety tho. it used to be 10 million games of the Doom/Quake variety and 3 of the Civilisation/The Sims type. So here’s a new game:

game
UC Berkeley
An avatar of a modern guy wanders the long-gone 7th St. jazz and blues scene.

The past is always with us. For the city of Oakland, CA, it’s about to come alive online in a way that could enrich public discussions of today’s local development concerns.

UC Berkeley journalism professor Paul Grabowicz recently won a $60,000 Knight News Challenge grant to fund the development of an online video game, Remembering 7th Street, that recreates Oakland’s jazz and blues club scene from the 1940s and 50s.

Guest contributor Anthony Wojtkowiak recently spoke to Grabowicz about this project.

Wojtkowiak: Why focus on this particular piece of local history?

Grabowicz: At that time, Oakland was a Mecca for jazz and blues musicians from all over the country. Over the course of about a decade, the area essentially got wiped out due to a series of ill-fated urban redevelopment projects. We’re using a video game to portray that world as it existed and tell the story of the clubs, the musicians, and the people in the community and what happened to them.

Wojtkowiak: What’s new about that? Aren’t there already historically based games such as Medal of Honor?

Grabowicz: Our game defines an important local community and focuses on a very important aspect of that community. In essence, we have used a video game to recreate this community. It’s not a broader game like Civilization, attempts to chart historical events.

more at PoynterOnline.

This is the 60 thousand dollar question:

Wojtkowiak: Why would we play your game?

Grabowicz: I don’t want to pretend that we’re the only ones who are trying to do this, but what’s different is that were trying to use video games to reconnect people with their community, their culture, and their heritage. There is a serious games movement that is trying to use video games to educate people.

We have two target audiences, which makes our goal harder: We are targeting kids who play games as well as older adults who might really remember 7th Street. We’re not trying to produce a game for national consumption. Mostly it’s an attempt to help a local community understand its past.

There are some really really bad “social good” games out there. You can just see the kids groaning when the teacher says “oh lets log on and play a fun educational game!” :p One wonders why they don’t just recreate it in Second Life – could it be the superficial materialism? or the flagrant cybersex? or…. ?

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

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