MMOGs and CCTVs: 3D Games For Spectators

Killer feature: Immersive gaming companies like Rockstar, Blizzard, ID, Epic, NCsoft, Valve et al should implement a way for game server admins to tap live in-scene camera feeds that can be bussed out to HTML. Liberty City should have public CCTV’s that viewers can watch from their browser or mobile client. Like a virtual Adam’s Block people could tune in to an alleyway or freeway underpass and let the action unfold in the streets below. World builders should enable first/third-person game cameras to send their viewport to Flash embeds.

Imagine tuning into a South Korean Quake deathmatch tournament as a spectator and being able to view the world through the game eyes of the champion or to switch across various fixed camera feeds in corridors, over walkways, and above central arenas to witness the gameplay from alternate angles. It might seem odd in sports-addled America and the UK but in Asia hundreds of millions are online and they love 3D gaming. The gameworld becomes a performance space. Second Life could finally entertain more than just the local cliques by broadcasting the actions of art collectives and protest groups out to the world.

It doesn’t take much effort to see how this multiplies the available media advertising real-estate considerably. Fixed camera views become hot advert property rented to savvy marketers who know they can reach both the local gamers and the viewing masses. Attention property goes meta. This is a two-way street as external feeds begin to pipe into the game worlds. The walls really start coming down when you can take a cellphone call in-game and then wave to the camera for your friends to see. They take a screenshot and then send it to the clan web site and the GTA Flickr feed that gets displayed on the side of a building in downtown Liberty City. Sponsored by Verizon of course.

Blizzard claims something like 10 million regular users of World of Warcraft. Their WoW wikia page is the largest collection of data on anything in the world. You think they might be interested in being able to view their clan members remotely and communicate with them at any time? Or tune into video feeds showing the night elves in Darnassus, or watch the pass at Chillwind’s Point? (Truth: I googled these.) And if Blizzard wins the fight to keep the gameworld free from advertising, marketers can accrete around the popular viewing channels and their Flash embeds.

These worlds are dark clouds, opaque from all but those that pay the playing fee. Yet there’s so much entertainment and interest and real human nature playing out in these worlds. People will watch. Agents will sift through the user data feeds streaming out along with the A/V feeds. And think of the up-sell as viewers convert to players. Someday I’m certain some of the reality tv channels on my mobile device will be looking into such immersive worlds and showing me where in my friends are and who they’re battling and what type of car they just jacked for a joyride through Liberty City. (I *really* want the GTA CCTV’s!)

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