So I just awake from over a month long hibernation* from blog and I see that NewsNight did a piece on MOGs and Second Life where they recreated the NewsNight studio in-world. I was struggling to comprehend how this could have happened and what it meant.
It left me admiring Paul Mason the journalist who created this piece for the vision to get this done as part of the package. I was still stunned by how incomprehensible all this stuff must seem to normal folk, and thought that Paul did a pretty good job of getting a story out the whole phenomenon.
I was astonished that Paxman not only agreed to participate but apparently drive his avatar for the opening of the piece and then I was ashamed at his comment that "I, or some child-with-access-to-a-computerised-paintbox's idea of me, am speaking to you from a virtual world". This somewhat belied the earlier won admiration. Is he so insecure that he couldn't just to go with it? No, he had to denigrate the experience with a "we all know this is shit" glib mug to the audience. It seemed particularly rude as there was an interview with the artist who had created his skin on the site. And she had done a brilliant job on the animated "NewsNight" backdrop.
Having said that, the gimmicky opening was the weakest part of a great report which just illustrated the differences between the interactive and non-interactive media. Aping studio based TV in a game or virtual world is a thin pastiche of the real thing, but how a good piece of TV journalism can pull together a story, mainly on the economic and ethical implications of virtual worlds and tell it in a very simple and engaging way. I particularly like the cutting between virtual Paul investigating in-worlds and real Paul snooping around the real world businesses behind them. I was fascinated to see the Romanian power-levelling sweatshop working for www.gamersloot.net. A real insight into a world very virtual to mine.
*CAUTION: DO NOT EAT PINE NEEDLES like they do in the Moomins before hibernating. They are mildly poisonous and I think that Tove Jansson and her publishers bear some responsibility for making aspiring Moomins think that this is normal.