Parallel Worlds - Online Games and Digital Information Services (17 Dec 2005)
An interesting parallel between a digital library and an online game concerns the data they hold. The primary data object in a digital library may be a book, journal or article, the instances of which number many thousands or millions. Associated with each instance is a set of data (e.g., title, ISBN, authors, location, price, the actual content)
The primary data object within an online game is the player. Each instance of a player is associated with a set of data (e.g., name, password, character type, current location, level status, health status, amount of in-game money current held).
The key difference between digital library data and gaming data lies in how transitory the data is. Most of the data concerning an article held by a digital library will not change (though some, such as price and location, will). Within the online game, various forces act on a player resulting in significant changes to the associated data. The very act of moving changes a player's location, while engaging in battle will change various health, weapon and strength attributes. Even if the avatar is doing nothing, other forces, e.g., an attack by an enemy, will affect the attribute values associated with that player.
From a technical perspective, at any one time a large quantity of data is changing. A major event in a game (for example, the aforementioned "plague" in World of Warcraft) results in large quantities of data held by the game changing rapidly.
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