25 November 2006

The Game God Speaks

I am not a gamer. Until recently, I had no idea who Raph Koster was. But the more I read of his stuff, the more impressed I am: he is clearly one of the deepest thinkers about the digital world today. Note that I do not say about games: for what he writes has ramifications far beyond the gaming world, and should be read by anyone with an interest in things digital.

Take his latest post, called "Are microtransactions actually the future?" This pieces ranges widely, touching on all the big issues that intellectual monopolies like copyright throw up. And he really gets it. For example:

since anything that can be seen by our senses can be reproduced, for better or worse, all digital forms of enforcing copyright are doomed to fail. Every form of encryption is moot, because everything must be decrypted in order for us to see it. At some point, the data is in the clear, and then it can be copied.

He then goes further, offering a suggestion about how content industries can and must cope with this ineluctable fact:

The value is in the service, not the content. In the service, not the microtransactions. A digital item is worth nothing. What is of value is the context. People are increasingly not willing to pay for the experience of hearing a song by itself in the abstract. They pay for the concert as a whole (the iTunes experience as a whole, the CD experience as a whole, the movie-going experience as a whole, the EverQuest experience as a whole), and it will be smart venue operators who survive and make the money in the long run.

Amen to that.

1 comment:

internetfuzzi said...

rAmen \o/