I was just looking over some of my fieldwork material today and noticed a few references to Mu: Online. I had seen this game being played a lot - along with Tibia, another free MMORPG - during August-October 2004, but hadn't really noticed any significant play of it when I was in Caracas from March-July 2005. Anyway I was looking over the games site and saw that it had switched to a mixed free/pay service (pay service is called premium) this April. This meant that free players would be limited to four of the game-worlds, and to 60th level, while pay players would get unlimited access. The pay only worlds were also promoted as being bug free (bugs and third-party mods plagued MU: Online back when I was doing my research on it).
So I was looking around on the internet for some news on what happened with MU, because the buzz around the game was pretty big because of the huge size of its regular community (I use community here in the loose sense - but lets say at least it had a hell of a lot of players) all I could find was wikipedia claiming that it was sold by webzen (the Korean developers) to K2 (the current owners) for 2,000,000USD.
During my search I also discovered that Nintendo had been on webzen's case for allowing (out of 1,000s of possibile combinations) characters to be customized that looked like Link (of Zelda fame), in one of the new games it has been beta-testing, S.U.N. (Soul of the Ultimate Nation). Nintendo didn't sue just issued a stern warning. Now apparently this issue has cropped up in the past, according to Gamespot News, with players in City of Heros customizing their characters to closely resemble various Marvel favorates. The dispute between Marvel and City of Heros went from November 2004-December 2005, and resulted in an undisclosed settlement payment to Marvel. Wired News states:
"Considering that defendants own no comic characters themselves, it stands to reason that the comic books to which they refer are those that depict the characters of Marvel and others," wrote Marvel's attorneys in the complaint. "Defendants' Creation Engine facilitates and, indeed, encourages players to create and utilize heroes that are nearly identical in name, appearance and characteristics to characters belonging to Marvel."
The Story is also covered by USA Today.
What I'm wondering is what is the story with the Habbo Hotel game's jedi/sith roleplaying factions?
Global gaming networks are heterogenous collectives of localized practices, not unified commercial products. Shifting the analysis of digital games to local specificities that build and perform the global and general, Gaming Rhythms employs ethnographic work conducted in Venezuela and Australia to account for the material experiences of actual game players.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
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