Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Xbox Live: The International VR Arena

Recently I have been spending more than a sparing amount of hours playing Xbox Live, a gaming system that links Xbox 360 users across the globe and arranges ranked games for people to play others of matched experience(up to 20 players in one game). In the Halo 3 online live arena, players have a rank based on skilled kills(sniper head shots, double kills, killing sprees, sword sprees, killing frenzies, etc.) as well as experience points gained simply by amassing hours of game time. A gamer can customize his profile "picture" so that when other gamers check their stats, the marine supporting the gamer's display name has specialized armor and colors. I play with some of my "material friends" and we play under the tagname of Berrian576; Our Halo marine is a grade 2 Gunnery Sergeant, has 200 experience points and has reached the 18th highest skill. This marine represents our Halo warrior, our digital self competing against hundreds of thousands of other Halo players online at any moment of the day worldwide.

Like social networking, gamers can friend other players and real friends from their hometowns; people can chat, send voice messages to each other and text message using the Xbox 360 controller. A great experiment on social networking, chatting before games involves idle small talk and "smack talk" followed by strategy planning and communication during the game. Thompsen calls this vulgar cyber talk "flaming". The definition used in Thompsen's chapter in Communication and Cyberspace mimics nearly all the manners of speaking during Xbox Live chats. "rudeness, profanity, emotional...annoying...spontaneous" comments are commonplace and "the spontaneous creation of homophobic, racist and misogynist language during electronic communication" seems like exactly what I hear bantering back and forth from blue team members to red team members before a social slayer match. Gamer vocabulary and knowledge of the maps is essential in understanding the "Halo World".

This virtual reality has become the realest video game interaction in the sense that it connects real people and organizes them systematically into competitive matches which take place in "cyberspace". Anybody interested in talking smack, kicking ass, taking names and ranking up with a couple boys from Fordham U, look for Berrian576 in any ranked team slayer, social slayer or big team battle matches on Xbox Live and you'll be messing with a few of the Interactive Rams(Paul L involved).


Lance Strate said...

Excellent point, this is another form of social networking. My 14-year-old son plays Halo with his friends at night, and I am amazed to think that when I was a kid, we weren't allowed to even call someone after 9 or 10 PM, and I can here him chattering away on Halo, with friends from school as well as strangers, as late as we allow him to stay up. Feel free to continue to bring in examples from this experience, and relate it to the readings.

Anonymous said...

i can't connect to xbl from fordham :(

its a huge upset.

i'm at lincoln center btw.