Computer Games - The Power Leveling Business

I happened to catch the final episode of the documentary Gamer Revolution on ABC2 last night and I was totally blown away with just how much the computer game industry has progressed. If you're interested to read a more detailed summary of the topics covered in the documentary there is a good article on CBC-TV's web site.

Although I knew the computer gaming industry is worth millions more than the Hollywood movie industry and I've heard about online games/worlds like World of Warcraft and Second Life it's an area of computing that has largely passed me by. I'm just not interested in spending hours upon hours playing computer games (though I am partial to the occasional game of Tomb Raider).

What gob smacked me the most about this episode was the story about a man who runs an online business to 'power level' a player's character in various online gaming worlds.

Here's how this works...

Say you're playing an online game where the top power level for a player character is 60. Unfortunately you're crap at the game and languishing around level 15 whilst all your friends, whom you game with, are at level 40. Such a power difference makes you more of a liability to the team in battles than a help.

One solution might be to practice, practice, practice...right? Isn't that what the game is all about, building up your characters experience and power yourself? Learning how to be a better player? Apparently that's not what it's about for everyone.

In the new world of computer gaming you can pay someone, who can play the game well, to play your character until they reach the desired power level you've requested and paid for. Say level 40 - like your friends. The catch? Whilst this person is powering up your character you have no access to the character or the game. Depending on how much of a boost you want this can take up to ten or more days.

When you get your character back your power level is much like your friends and, hey presto, you're no longer a liability. Well, assuming your not just blatantly crap at the game and fair no better at level 40 than what you did at level 15.

The unbelievable part - if that wasn't enough - is that the man who started this business of power leveling player's characters has had to out source the actual playing of the games part of his business. i.e. he no longer plays the games himself.

It gets better.

His business is based in the US but he's hired a manager in Romania to run a Romanian centre of about 30 computers where his players work on a shift basis to power up characters. Let that sink in just a bit.

This practice is so popular that he hired at least 30 players (probably more since they work on a rotational basis on 30 computers) in a developing country (read low paid workforce) to work around the clock power leveling people's characters in online games. Not only that but he's gone off shore to be competitive i.e. there are other people/businesses earning a living power leveling characters in online computer games.

Are you following this?

It's probably not new to you online gamer freaks out there but this is a whole online industry that I never imagined. I knew that Second Life has virtual money that can be turned into real money. I also knew that there's plenty of money to be made in other similar online games that have monetary systems but I never imagined there was this side industry in power leveling online player characters.

To me, it just smacks of people who want all the glory without the work.

If you're a gamer who's worked really hard to build up your character's level and experience then I just know you're not going to be all that impressed by these pretenders with money to burn.

If you want to know more about Power Leveling, BOG is one such service. I have no idea if it is the same service mentioned in the documentary however reading their about page I'm guessing not. This operation, with 700 computers and more than one thousand 'professional technicians', is much larger. Totally mind blowing!

Messy Dog Art



I came across the messy dog art of M.C. Williams whilst browsing my Youtube subscriptions (I'm subscribed to tags like 'art' so I can see new art related videos as they are posted) and was completely blown away by the colour and personality of these delightful paintings.

I think the video above speaks for its self however if you'd like to see more messy dog art (and maybe even buy some) visit the artists ebay store.

Williams promotes these paintings as ideal for kids (to hang in their bedrooms I presume) but as someone who is a dog lover I'd be more than happy to place one of these artworks prominently in my home for guests to enjoy.

Sketching - Elaborate Doodles or Real Art?

I really admire artists who can create intricately detailed graphite pencil or pen and ink drawings. It's a style that really sits well with me whether it be a drawing of an old barnyard or some fantastical, wildly imaginative depiction of mythical dragons, fairies or other such creatures.

It's also a style that I am more than capable of working in myself however I don't (except on very rare occasions like for this blog post) because creating this kind of art seems like very elaborate doodling and not really 'proper' art.

When I say it's not proper art I mean it doesn't feel like creating proper art to me. It has nothing to do with whether I think this is proper art or not when others do it (because quite certainly it is art - and very impressive to me at that).

Perhaps it's because I'm so used to the routine of sketching then taking the finished sketch up to a painting? Maybe, psychologically for me, a finished sketch is only a half realised artwork that should progress to a painting. Maybe it's just that I spent many years doodling intricate pictures in my school notebooks when I should have been studying?

I don't know but somehow I can't bring myself to work in this style on a regular basis. Not even for series of artworks, illustrating a Harry Chapin song, that I've been meaning to try in this style for nearly ten years now. I can see the entire series in my head. Beautifully delicate graphite and pen drawings framed in nice simple black frames with black matte surrounds. Some day...

If you're an artist reading this, do you have the same problem with any particular style of art? A style you know you can do well but really don't feel like you've created 'art'. Feel free to comment below.

Image Details: Dragon Fly, Pencil sketch on paper, 14.8cm x 21cm, 1st February 2008

What The Duck - The Art and Photography Duck



What The Duck is a daily web comic strip based around the antics of a little duck photographer that falls firmly in the category of 'I wish I'd thought of that'. Mostly for the exceptionally catchy name but also because the character is very marketable.

The comic's author, Aaron Johnson, recently contacted me because he thought I might be interested to see his latest strip (WTD 401 pictured above) with its 'starving artist' theme. It did indeed raise a smile. I know I'd be quite happy if some rich art investor bought me and took me home - just so long as he didn't hang me on the wall!

The What The Duck web site is very 'more-ish'. The cartoons are short, simple and always manage to deliver at least a smile if not a 'Laugh Out Loud'. Take a look and I'm sure you'll agree. You can also suggest your own ideas for cartoons and buy some really cool WTD merchandise.
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