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14 December 2007

Compulsion Loops
Os Makes Up A Pile Of Crap
The Views Expressed Herein Are Personal
and In No Way Intended for General Use

I believe in variety, and despite the constant calls for "the best" to be named in everything, to me there is no "best," only many options suiting different people. I pop around to a few other virtual worlds periodically. When Kaneva did its beta I spent an hour there, and realized I was far from their intended audience. It held no interest for me, but it certainly would be fun for some. Metaverse is another place I have spent time. Croquet, too. These are at an early stage, so it's very interesting, to me, to clump about in them. There have been more - I can't remember the names of some of them.

Entropia Universe, formerly Project Entropia, is a place I go in every time MindArk sends me an email saying, "We are going to terminate your account if you don't log in." For an unknown reason I find the UI difficult, but theoretically at least, I am reserving the right to shoot monsters when I am glum, or simply run around attempting to remain alive whilst monsters and other players try to kill me. EU is a bit too good at training sociopaths for my taste, however.

I was a late beta-tester (in name only, really) for There, which I go and look at perhaps once a year or so. After reading how Coca-Cola had decided to leave SL and go There, I downloaded There, logged in, and found myself next to someone named "Therian." Woo, uncanny. I ran off, drove my dune buggy around for a bit (vehicles work well, as always, but there's no real customisation), realised that although I hadn't been in it for ages and ages I still knew exactly where I was and where everything else was. Played on my hoverboard for a bit. Wondered if the water could still be blue-painted concrete after all this time, and saw that, no, the water has been improved a bit. Logged off. Whew - that was a long 3 minutes (not including d/l). Glad to go home.

In a article about the Coke/There partnership, a Coke spokesman was quoted. "We see the youth market, the tween and sub-tween market thriving in browser-based worlds because they are sufficient to keep that type of user engaged as long as you build in compulsion loops to that experience," said Richardson. "But as you move up the spectrum to an older user, people have more requirements. They want more kinetic activities, to hop in a car and drive across the world or play cards or play paint ball and use voice or more sophisticated networking technology. That's something we've been doing from day one to provide the most sophisticated, but lowest barrier to entry experience."

Older, meaning starting at 13 and going up. Coke thinks to 34 - I think that's a bit of a stretch (at least I HOPE so). How old are people when they finally figure out they are being targeted by a corporation? How old are people when they stop drinking insanely sweet fizzy drinks? I have no clue as I grew up before children were targeted in that way, and the number of times I've imbibed fizzy soda is not great (I used to like Schweppe's Bitter Lemon, however). Water doesn't contribute to the onset of diabetes, I hear.... but I digress...

We can clearly see the compulsion loops in certain activities. Leveling, and so forth, would fit that description. So would adding addictive substances to cigarettes, I suppose. If you design something with no manipulative, self-serving Loops of Compulsion, you would lose out against a compulsion loop-heavy rival, presumably, if the potential users of your widgets were similarly unaware or uncaring that they are being treated like a herd of milk cows.

So - my question is: why don't people care that they are being offered a loop of compulsion in order to serve a corporation's bottom line? "The company is offering us what we want, so what's the problem?" I'm not sure... As part of marketing strategy I suppose it's a valid tool. But it seems dim to fall for it.

I think I don't understand it because I've always made my own fun. Back in the Age of Cavemen such official playthings as we had were stiff, breakable, unpleasant, and unnecessary, really. I never liked dollies much, and had only an old composition doll* bought at a white elephant sale. I drew and drew and drew. My father's shirt cardboard was a wonderful thing for making articulated puppety-type things. He always brought home pencils, which were engineers' pencils - hard and with a metal end (no eraser). I roamed about freely on the back of a horse every day from the age of about 8 or 9.

I had no upbringing, in a way, and nobody focused their advertising campaigns on me. Having someone try to create something I'd like seems abnormal, the wrong way round, like an artist trying to paint things that will sell in a gallery. Like money is the true reason for it all.

Got to run. I still don't understand this even enough to lay it out clearly, though.

*'''drat' that at some point I threw away the handsewn costumes I made, but oh, well.


posted by - 1:16 PM

So tired... Can't type much but must type something to agree.

I'm a child of the 1970s - a vastly different country to the 2000s. I see pictures of Preston, of the UK, in the 70s and feel I know nothing about it, yet it has shaped who I am so profoundly. I am one on the last generations who are risk takers because our childhood allowed us to be - we were not bound in cotton wool and 'made safe' by endless health and safety laws.

Am I making sense? Don't know. There is a new kid in my office - lovely girl but a huge 20 years younger than me (and at 37 I am not old by any measure). She did not know what a trade union was. Lovely girl, but I wanted to shake her and take her to the People's Museum in Manchester to say people have died for this, for your life now, and you don't know?

Her generation has different focus, a different value system. Today I think people accept that marketing is normal. It's a cultural Stockholm Syndrome. It's the way of the world. I don't like it, but I can not stop it. I really am not making sense.

We are both doomed and not doomed at the same time. Steam killed one world as it built another. Capitalism is still doing the same.

I wish things were, by my standards, better, richer, more meaningful. But who am I say to say that they aren't. I'm the only atheist in an office of believers and they all think my value set is weird just as I do theirs.

Can we all be right and wrong at the same time? Has it always been this way only now somehow more sharply defined? More rapid in pace?

Man - I've bummed myself out. I'm off to bed :(
Worlds are always being created and destroyed at the same time - however one would like to feel the new world is better in some way than the old.

You make sense to me. Of course, when I was a child and had some awful accident (not infrequently) I'd sneak into the house and wash off the blood because if my parents saw it I'd be in trouble :D

My mother's mother was the eldest of, I think 7, with just one boy. The girls were all brainy and unconventional but of course Jack smashed his neck to go to work at the colliery despite no one wanting him to. The girls saw it as a colossal waste, but he wanted to be manly within the rigid definition of that time and place. Down the generations, for me, it seems very, very close. The good and bad seem to change, but remain the same proportionally.

Whatever we do as humans I wouldn't mind much, except we destroy the very Earth itself in our greed. The range of stupid-clever, greedy-altruistic is so enormous that there are always developments that far outstrip human ability to use them in an intelligent way.

I remember once seeing a crow on an electrical line with those "6-pack" plastic rings caught around his body. We are so careless and our garbage lasts until the end of time.

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