Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Virtual Shakespeare World

I've never been a big fan of what's known as "massively multiplayer online roleplaying games" (MMORPG).  They're big virtual worlds where you pay a monthly subscription fee to don an avatar and cruise the world of your choice, often populated with the usual dragons and other bad guys, but not always.

Well, what if somebody made one all about Shakespeare?  Edward Castronova has been granted $240,000 from the MacArthur Foundation to produce "Arden: The World of Shakespeare", built entirely around the plays of the Bard.

Ok, can I just say that I would *so* be there?  They used to call Everquest (one of the original MMORPGs) "Evercrack" because of it's addictive nature.  They ain't seen nothing yet!

"Honey, you coming to dinner?"

"Damnit, you distracted me, now Laertes ran away.  I'll be down when I kill him."

Unfortunately it clearly says that this is an "academic" project, which might well mean that it never makes the store shelves. 

The article is loaded with good stuff about how the game, which will be based on Richard III to start, will work.  For instance, you'll have a "play book" and one of the treasures of the game will be various Shakespearean texts:

"If you collect the 'To be or not be' speech and then take it to a lore master or to a skilled bard, he can then apply the magic to your broad sword or you (could) utilize the magic in a battle situation to give you this massive (advantage)," Castronova explained. "So there (will be) this intensive competition to get the best speeches of Shakespeare in your play book.

What can I say?  Want it.  I'm actually going to write to the guy directly this evening and see if I can get some inside scoop, maybe get my name on the beta list.

And don't think I didn't miss the coincidence that "Arden" shows up again this week (see earlier Arden of Faversham story).


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