Another Hobbit-Forming Game
The granddaddy of all alternate-reality worlds, Lord of the Rings, has recently come online with a new immersive game. And if early reaction is any indication, Second Life will be facing some new competition.
“Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar” went live late in April from game maker Turbine. It’s being marketed strictly to young male hard-core gamers, but the title clearly has mainstream potential. At first glance, the effort appears similar to a massively multiplayer game along the lines of “World of Warcraft.” Rings Online is built around well-known characters such as Frodo Baggins, Saruman and others created by J.R.R. Tolkien. And, yes, the title comes with much traditional game play.
But there is a deeper level of interactivity in the game that brings it closer to worlds such as Second Life. The Rings Online world has an economy, again similar to Second Life, and rewards cooperation and other forms of social commerce in order to solve problems, which is an almost direct lift from the virtual-world experience. Users who don’t feel like traversing Middle Earth to find the Ring of Power can still have a good time simply hanging out.
But don’t look for brands to populate the game for a while. “I’m not sure a major marketer is quite ready to invest in this title yet, unless they are buying the gamer demographic,” says Alan Schanzer, managing partner at MEC Interaction. “But it’s interesting to see how these games are developing into more persistent environments. Let’s see how Second Life reacts.”