Noor the pacifist


15 Minutes of Fame: Noor the pacifist – WOW Insider:

Ok, so we gotta ask – why on earth a character that doesn’t kill anything? Doesn’t that feel like pulling teeth? I prefer doing stranger stuff, as opposed to grinding high-end instances. Once, my 70 mage was in Southshore, and someone was asking directions to Ghostlands in zone chat. I told him how to go through EPL. Then I clicked on him, and he was something like a level 12 Draenei hunter. I asked him why he wanted to go there, and it turns out he wanted a red cat for a pet — so I escorted him through EPL, and he only died a couple of times getting there. I’ve also done a few quests on PvP servers with non-hostile Horde players (not pre-arreanged or anything), such as the mechanical chicken escort in Feralas (twice, so we could all get credit).

It’s with great pleasure that I learned about the World of Warcraft gamer who has a gaggle of pacifist characters led by Noor the Pacifist trying to reach the game’s highest level without killing. Who said peace is cowardly!

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Playing in the bland

This video is part one of a three part ad series. You can view them all here.

Call me an old codger, but this ad campaign for Rock Band completely misses the point of rock. But then again, maybe I’m living in a garage band fantasy world in which the desire to play rock (or in my case, punk) is driven by rebellion and self expression. In the punk days (damn, I sound really old now), we followed the Sniffin’ Glue dictum: “Here’s a chord, here’s another chord. Now go form a band.” These days you can do it on a laptop. But the ad reluctantly hits the right note: the band members are so ironic and distant, they couldn’t give a crap about the music anyway. What bores.

(For a good commentary on how the game’s producers failed to vibe with Sleater-Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein on her marketing tips, read AdFreak here.)
Playing in a band in high school saved my life. But playing in a virtual band in a videogame? I don’t get it. Especially about the fantasy part in which you fly around in a private jet, ride in limos and play stadiums. What a shitty, drug induced lifestyle (OK, when you are 20 it’s fun, I admit). I know that not all have access to garages, so OK, maybe there is a market for kids who can’t find a way to make some real frakken noise, the kind that you feel in your bones and makes your ears ring. Argh. Music is so safe now.

Rock Band is as silly as the reality TV show, Rock Star: Supervova (you can read my snarky expose here). I quoteth myself:

I suppose this is the ultimate lesson about cultural innovation. You can only try so hard to manufacture a sensibility (and certainly there is money to be made in doing so), but anyone with any real radar for “authenticity” knows that such things are not simply invented for a television audience. That’s too risky. Unfortunately we have lived too long with the genius and avant-garde myth ”that somehow there is a “new” idea that can be created by an innovative artist/dreamer who shifts the culture into a new direction and receives fame and fortune in exchange. But the Pollocks and Warhols have since passed this earthly realm, and the mad cultural innovator has been relegated to the tabloids where drug addicted super models and their boyfriends remain the last bastion of cool. If only we could capture such lightening in a bottle.

Vladimir Lenin to make documentary


Apparently Vladimir Lenin will be making a historic documentary within Second Life for HBO. Ah, the miracles of virtual reality.

GameSpot News: The definitive source for video game news, announcements, ship dates, rankings, sales figures, and more.:

Titled “Molotov’s Dispatches in Search of the Creator: A Second Life Odyssey,” the 35-minute documentary follows the titular avatar as he traverses the virtual world’s shores, acting as a stranger in a strange land as he explores the environment and observes the interactions of Second Life inhabitants. The documentary is being directed by Douglas Gayeton, whose prior work includes “Johnny Mnemonic: The Interactive Action Movie” on the PC.

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A haunting tale of mental illness, video art and suicide

On July 10 blogger and multimedia artist Theresa Duncan took her life. A few days later her soul mate Jeremy Blake stripped his clothes off and entered the ocean never to return. Both were video game designers, Blake was an established video artist, his video for Beck shown above. The Newsweek story below touches upon the link between technology and mental illness that sometimes manifests in disastrous ways. The more interesting angle is the creeping paranoia towards the end of their lives that they were being sabotaged by Scientologists, perhaps triggered by the project for Beck (who is a Scientologist).

I wouldn’t go so far as to blame the media for this sad story, though I’m sure many have considered it (there is a hint of the wagging finger in the Newsweek story), but am interested because the strangest part is how the couple lives on within the digital realm. This confirms what some (such as Mary Ann Doane) have written about concerning the subconscious motive of our civilization to create media: so we can capture death and contingency in order to escape life’s impermanence. Of this I’m certain: Duncan and Blake will be immortalized by film, for this story has the perfect intrigue of a noire script. But the screenwriter will most certainly have to omit Scientology from the script; otherwise it will never appear in a theater near you (or a small box on your computer screen for that matter). Maybe Twain was right when he said the only thing certain is death and taxes, but we can add to the list as well that our digital apparitions will be eternalized as long as we still have electricity.
Duncan’s digital remains: Wit of the Staircase

For a more literary take, read this article.

Art, Technology and Death: A Love Story – Newsweek Society –

For some, technology and mental illness have long been thought to exist in a kind of dark symbiosis. Blake and Duncan’s case follows a long history that began when the electric age upended daily life with baffling, complex innovations. The first victim is believed to have been James Tilley Matthews, an 18th-century British merchant who thought France planned to take over England with a mind-controlling magnetic machine using technology developed by Frank Mesmer—from whom the word “mesmerized” is derived. More recently, the introduction of television inflamed the minds of patients who believed that their TVs were watching them or broadcasting secrets about their lives. In this regard, the Web is especially powerful. “The condition of being super-social and super-isolated at the same time is an Internet-era kind of thing,” says Fred Turner, a media historian at Stanford University, who speculates that as Blake and Duncan withdrew from friends, “their only reality check left was the wisps of information on their computer screens. And unfortunately, that isn’t a very powerful check.”

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