Power to the gamer?
Emma Ewadotter & Carl-Erik Engqvist, HUMlab, Umeå UniversityFor AoIR 11, 2010.
Power to the gamer? Or The artist as an activist: intervention as a method to cast a critical eye on the concept of Planet Calypso
In this paper the authors wish to discuss certain aspects of an art intervention in the online game Planet Calypso. Due to the games real cash-economy structure, we choose to focus upon something rarely found within the game – charity. To address this, the artist Carl Erik Engqvist took into consideration the lowest economic class, the “newbie”, and through an artistic intervention named From Hand to Mouth to Laser(2010) supported them with equipment usually only accessible to higher economic classes, without demanding anything in return.
Intervention – how does it work?
So what is an art intervention anyway? A short answer to that question would be: art that enters a situation with the attempt to change the existing conditions there. Art interventions should not be mistaken for the political act of interventionism, where a party interferes with another party’s (often a political organisation) or individuals choices. While interventionism is characterized by the use of threat or force or coercion to alter a political or cultural situation, art interventions are more prone to non-violence acts and often engage in norm-breaking behaviour in order to raise debate. Art interventions are staged and performed by artists and is a form of expression with strong roots within the tradition of art performances. Interventions are often highly sensitive to the reaction from the audience and not seldom aimed towards initiating conversations with the people that witness them, seeing conversations as a way to not only change or interfere with certain situations but also to affect the individuals that are addressed in the piece.
There are is genre in the intervention-scene that is made up by art pieces created in close relation to that an already existing art work, made by another artist. These pieces can be said to be symbiotic or parasitic on the piece to which it refers, and do sometimes affect the original art works to that extent that some would rather view the interventions as acts of vandalism than art. Such an example should be Black Sheep (1999) performed by an unknown artist which included pouring ink on Damien Hirst's much debated sculpture Away from the Flock (1999).
When it comes to artists that work in the digital field, the degrees of involvement in the digital varies, as the curator Christiane Paul points out when he talks about the digital technologies as a medium versus digital technologies as a tool.1 These two classifications are by no means a way to draw definite lines between different types of artist engagement in the digital, as the Paul also points out, but should rather be perceived as a mean to create some kind of structure in a territory that is extremely multi-faceted.2 But if we were to try to place art interventions in virtual worlds somewhere in Paul’s scale, it would appear to be towards the first: digital technologies as a medium, since it could be said to exclusively use a digital platform from production to presentation and in that aspect that it also explores that platform’s inherent possibilities. Interventions are often aimed towards social networks, virtual worlds and/or online games, and are most often mainly accessible through these mediums.
To track back and look upon interventions as a part of the performance scene, and especially the interventions that draw upon already existing art pieces, it’s quite interesting to discuss artist involvements in virtual worlds as art that comments and exists in relation to other art. It is not the intention of the writers of this paper to dwell on the question whether or not video games could be seen as art since the question could be considered as settled - as claimed by Henry Jenkins already in 2005:
"Games represent a new lively art, one as appropriate for the digital age as those earlier media were for the machine age. They open up new aesthetic experiences and transform the computer screen into a realm of experimentation and innovation that is broadly accessible. And games have been embraced by a public that has otherwise been unimpressed by much of what passes for digital art."3
And as in the case of the earlier media’s, not all that can be made with the tools can be considered "art" – some games would seem to be closer to the definition than others. Forexample, a multi-player online game offers the player a larger digital space to inhabit, and also offers new ways to interact with fellow gamers. The environment of the games are also new unique playgrounds for artists and activists, being as they are highly restricted spaces, corporate owned and extensively normative and thus also something that can be analysed and questioned. Depending on how you perceive the actual act of inhabiting a virtual space, artists acting in virtual worlds and online games can be said to be making performances or interventions. In many ways, performances could be said to be the foundation of virtual worlds: the very world is constantly performed by the players that inhabit it. They bring meaning to the landscape and the space, plays by the script and populates the (sometimes) vast virtual lands. The world as a structure is created, maintained and re-created (that is in every way performed) by its programmers. The game play is performed by the players, and depending on each individual players choices it could be according to the "script" (the main plot) or opposed to it.4 The artist who comments upon a game is therefore, if we are willing to accept this line of reason, commenting upon an ongoing large-scale performance. They enter the situation/game with the intention to change it. The very core of an interventionist art piece is to address and engage the audience to question normative structures within the given context, and further on to question their own appropriation of those structures and norms. The intervention asks the audience to reflect upon it’s own role in the system/the game.
Artist that act/interfere in virtual environments are by no means a new concept - works such as Velvet-strike (2002) that was initiated by Anne-Marie Schleiner and Dead in Iraq (2006 – ongoing) by Joseph DeLappe may be to two most famous examples. Velvet-strike (see picture 1.) adapted the concept of virtual graffiti, spreading pacifistic propaganda on the walls in the online anti-terrorist themed game Counter Strike. The players were encouraged to either spread the graffiti made by the artists (Anne-Marie Schleiner, Brody Condon and Joan Leandre) or to submit their own “sprays” through the webpage of the art piece.5 By doing so, the artists ask the players to take part in the intervention transforming them from (arguably) a passive audience into an acting subjective, that may comment on the artwork, the artists or the game itself, through their "sprays". Velvet-strike is noteworthy because of the ways that it appropriates the mechanisms constructed by the game developers and uses it to pose a critique of the game itself.
Dead in Iraq (see picture 2.) is an intervention that takes place in the US Army funded online game America’s Army, a multiplayer tactical shooter game where the players act as soldiers inthe U.S Army. It has been claimed to be one of the most realistic depictions of weapons and combat.6 While walking around in the game and meeting other gamers, the artist uses thegame chat to list the names of American soldiers who has lost their lives in the US-Iraq conflict. The work will be ongoing as long as the real world conflict keeps costing lives,according to the artist.i
Both the group behind Velvet-Strike and Joseph DeLappe voices criticism towards "realism" in war games, questioning the fantasy and myth around armed battle that these games promote – a conflict without real victims, without consequences that potentially creates a romantic aura around real world conflicts, and this especially in the case with America’s Army that also is a part of a recruiting campaign. DeLappe states that he through the artwork wants to put a piece of reality into the fantasy of the game.7
But DeLappe also wants to address the game as a space:
“ What are these spaces? People say, 'We come into these games to do A, B, and C, not C, D, and F'. My response is to say, who says you're only allowed to do those things in these spaces?"8
The artist has also claimed that he looks upon performative acts within virtual worlds as a new type of street theatre.9 The street performance being an act within the public sphere where the audience takes part in the ongoing events more or less by chance – most people have no intention of encountering art when they enter the everyday urban landscape. So, when he compares artist activities in virtual worlds with street theatre, DeLappe touches upon one of the key issues in artist engagement in virtual worlds: namely the way to inhabit a space and make different use of it than the norm would suggest. It is also an act of questioning the system (in which the art piece takes place). In that way, it is a question of activism and democracy in virtual worlds, even if (or maybe just because) they are corporate owned and driven by capitalist interests. With this as a background, it might be suitable to take a closer look on the world in which the intervention From Hand to Mouth to Laser took place.
Entropia Universe as a scene
The following lines can be read on the Planet Calypso webpage:
"Mankind had all but depleted the resources on Earth. There were very few resources to dig up from the ground anymore and recycling was not only a fashion but a valuable source for raw materials. The climate change from our wasteful uses of the finite resources tried and tested our civilization. Countries disappeared under the ocean, nations were displaced, and cities were ravaged not only by extreme weather, but of winds of war."10
This dystopic picture of a planet stripped of its resources and turning inhabitable gives the outlines for the online multi player science fiction game Planet Calypso, a part of the gaming universe Entropia Universe, created by the at that time Swedish-based company MindArk and launched in 2003. As many other games within this genre, it is based on real fear: the fear of where our current over-consumption and wasteful ways will lead us. Is there any hope for us on a dying world? The scientists and politicians may keep arguing in the real world, but in the in the game world of Planet Calypso, the answer is to be found among the stars. The human race simply leaves the nearly depleted planet Earth behind her and aims for new goals: A new Universe, filled to the brim with resources and promises and made available to mankind through the use of advanced space technology and AI. Here, the humans can colonize new planets, build new communities and, most important, start new businesses. So far, not much distinguishes this game from just any other game within the sci-fi genre, but there is one thing that singles out Planet Calypso and that is the way money plays a role in the game.
Entropia Universe uses a micropayment business model, in which players may buy in-game currency (PED - Project Entropia Dollars) with real money that can be redeemed back into real world funds at a fixed exchange rate.11 This means that virtual items acquired within Entropia Universe have a real cash value. This would in itself not be unique – for example,the online virtual world Second Life does also have a currency and economy of it’s own. In both worlds the game currency can be sold and/or bought for real money. The PED (ProjectEntropia Dollar) has a set value - unlike the $L (Linden Dollar) which rates constantly change according to supply, demand and other relevant parameters. The ability to withdraw cash from Entropia Universe through an ATM is one feature that differs from Second Life, where the player only can withdraw to PayPal or get a check by mail. In that respect, Entropia Universeoffers a closer connection to the real world, or a blended reality. You can also sell and buy virtual property in both worlds.12 But while Second Life offers no actual game play (but nonetheless offers the users to create games of their own within the world), Planet Calypso is in most aspects a traditional game with set goals – kill monsters, get more advanced items and improve in experience. As a player, you hook up your creditcard to the online bank and then you are good to go. Equipment, real estate, vehicles (first introduced in the summer of the 2010) and even experience can be bought. In theory a person with deep enough pockets could easily soar to the absolute heights of this game in virtually no-time.13 The games economical system has been explained by MindArk’s Chief Information Officer in 2007, Marco Behrmann, as being a way to offer equality to between hardcore gamers and casual players:
“In Entropia Universe we support the selling and buying of items. We also have the teacher system which allows for anyone to gain skills quickly in a field. Both these areas usually come at a cost, but that cost is usually something quite affordable for a working person who has more money but less time to spend on an online game experience. So in essence, EntropiaUniverse allows people who have money and little time to experience higher level content quicker than they would usually in other online games. I believe this to be excellent, as itallows for more equal experiences between those with money and those with time.14
In that aspect, the economy within the game emphasises already, outside of the game, existing economical differences between its players: if you are willing to spend more money, you could quickly and easily skip the grinding part and jump directly to more advanced game play. This is a feature of this game that is built into it’s very core structure which makes it a whole different case than the generally frowned upon gold-trade within worlds such as World of Warcraft.15
Being a player in a world like Planet Calypso obviously makes you aware of the limits of your real-life resources and, as in some cases, the promise that lays within virtual land for those brave enough to invest - the resources in Planet Calypso seem endless.The player can without any visible consequences hunt, mine and gather items as much as he or she wishes – but this will wear down their equipment that will need mending and tending to, which secures the company that even players with a relatively low degree of involvement in the game will at least spend a few dollars. But entrepreneurs can also make quite a bit of money within the game, such as the owner of Club NEVERDIE, a highly developed asteroid space resort, estimated to be worth 1 million USD the year 2008.16 The owner of ClubNEVERDIE Jon Jacobs has commented on his investments in the game:
“The reason Entropia Universe is such a great platform for virtual commerce is because everyone who participates in the world has a place in the economy not just as a consumer, but as a productive participant. Unlike the rest of the Internet and other virtual worlds where you simply browse, search, and buy, Entropia encourages you to actively gather natural virtual resources in a fun way and then trade or sell them to other people who need them. This is what makes the economy so dynamic and creates tremendous opportunity for new people joining. Ultimately, opportunity is what most people are seeking. It is much harder to find that in an environment where there's no demand for resources and labor.17
Coming from the entrepreneur-side of things, Jacobs is of course right. The virtual world does not differ much from real life society – in order to make money, you need to spend money. But how does the casual gamer perceive the capitalistic aspects of the game? Judging from posts in Entropia Universe forum, the opinions differ greatly, with some rallying for public action for a more fair open market to others simply stating "this is a game. […]you ultimately have the choice to play or don’t play."18
As in every place where it is possible to make money, both entrepreneurs and con-men are to be found. Newcomers should beware of strangers that offer to repair equipment, or that poses interesting and seemingly lucrative business deals – if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is. The subject has resulted in threads in the game forum where gamers warn each other for scammers and their methods.19 No gamer takes part in this universe without being aware of the rules of the game and the concept of the economy. Arguably, it might even be one of the reasons that this game is chosen before other sci-fi adventures – the chance to make some cash has a certain allure.
"From Hand to Mouth to Laser"
The artist Carl-Erik Engqvist has studied the virtual world of Planet Calypso since 2008 and has also been an active player in the game. The set structures of the gaming mechanism and the lack of consequences in the game world, other that purely financial, struck him as an interesting aspect of the game world to investigate. Engqvist was also during his time as a player in Entropia Universe made aware of the lack of trust in other players that was displayed by his fellow gamers. The thought that the economical system had a direct impact on the player-to-player relations arrived early. To address these features Engqvist started researching alternative modes of using the game structures as a way of questioning the established perception of how you play the game and use the real-cash economy system. Drawing from the experiences from his earlier involvement in virtual worlds and games (ranging from performance (Reality Check, 2008) to machinima (Bloom, 2010, Crossing the Field, 2009)), Engqvist made the choice to make an intervention in the virtual world. This lead with time to the piece From Hand to Mouth toLaser.
The following lines were written in relation to his piece Bloom(2010), a machinima created in the game Fallout 3:
"Considering the drudgery of repetitive tasks that we see as necessary parts of life it is interesting that the things we call entertainment are based on the same types of structures. Comparing work along a factory line with the endless quests for higher levels, better weapons or breathtaking plots are not always that farfetched and it astounds me how many times I would define the gameplay as tiring and repeatedly feel the pressure from all of those adventures that lies around the corner."20
Engqvist voices one of the issues with gaming that has been addressed earlier by Scott Rettberg in relation to World of Warcraft, namely that some games have a close similarity to the Western market-driven economies where the game enforces the "capitalist fairytale in which anyone who works hard and strives enough can rise through society’s rank".21 In the case of Entropia Universe, the "work hard" part can be crossed out by a quick swipe with the credit card. In that way, maybe the system is indeed fair, as stated by Behrmann.22 After all, if you're not interested in spending hours and hours on a game but just want the quick fix – why should you be forced to? This line of action creates interesting consequences on the way structures and hierarchies usually are perceived by the players.
In order to address this, Engqvist chose to buy a number of standard weapons and ammo to distribute these along newbies in the virtual world. The focus on newbies as being to most vulnerable players in the virtual world, viewed upon by other players generally as uninteresting or in some cases as a possible prey. A weapon being the obvious choice of item to distribute, since it is a crucial part of the game play: a weapon grants the new player a chance to advance in the game and is usually among one of the first purchases that is made. By handing out this kind of items Engqvist offered the new players a way to advance in the game, not only saving them the time and money it would take them to earn to money to buy the things themselves, but is also a manifestation of player to player kindness. Usually in online games this kind of aid from an experienced gamer is received through a form of mentorship or apprentice system, such as the campaign "Adopt a Newbie" in Planet Calypso, a player initiative that started in January 2010. In "Adopt a Newbie", the new gamer is offered to be made part of a society for a maximum of four weeks. During this period, the newbie is bound to a contract not to misbehave or in any way scam or exploit the group that takes him or her in.23 It is interesting that even if the game was released in 2003, the first more visible effort to systematize the initiation of newbies was made in 2010, seven years later.
Rather that shouldering the role of a official organization or a group, the artist chose to approach a number of newbies personally, searching for them in places frequently used by new beginners, like the Sweat Camp (see picture 3.), with the help of an in-game scanner (provided by the game for scanning monsters and humans alike), to distinguish the real newbie from the more experienced player. After pinpointing an actual new gamer with the scanner, Engqvist took his own avatar and initiated a conversation. This worked through sending a message to the chosen newbie, inviting them to a personal chat. If granted, Engqvist could through the chat present an offer consisting of a free gun and some ammo. If accepted by the newbie Engqvist invited them to personal trade giving them the items for free. These individual meetings could last for up to ten minutes. By acting on a grass root level, the conversation between the artists avatar and the other players, the artist managed to avoid some of the skepticism that players in virtual worlds not seldom display in interaction with researchers, artists or other individuals with a behavior that doesn't follow the established structure of the gaming environments. Such individuals are usually perceived as potential intruders in the game world rather than participants, a telling example is the reactions that DeLappe encountered in the mentioned artwork Dead in Iraq.
Engqvists approach was to engage in a short conversation, hand over the gun and ammo and encourage the newbie to do the same towards someone else in the future – the whole idea being to initiate a flow of "pay it forward"-actions where the charity shown by one individual player towards another hopefully will spread. After all – Engqvist is himself a player in the world and has everything to gain if the world were to be more heavily populated and if more players were to be engaged in other things than gathering resources.
Engqvist did encourage the newbies to give a gun to someone in need when they themselves have gained more experience and money in the game, and most happily agreed to do so. Many of the approached gamers were eager to give something in return, for example the gamer Trepio Jav offers sweat (one of the few resources easily gathered even by newbies in the game) (see picture 4.). Even Engqvist himself ends up in a scenario where the gun and ammo are offered as a sort of payment for an experience that the player Nighthawk gave him when he showed Engqvist how to climb an area previously unknown to him (see picture 5.). The gun was not offered in advance but given as a gift in exchange for something that Engqvist himself would not have thought of trying but did enjoy. The meeting turned out to be one out of the ordinary in a otherwise competitive game.
The question "why" arose quite a few times and the answer the artist gave was that he did it to make the game more fun for himself – the more players that can act more freely and not having to rely on a long period of mining or hunting before being able to really "do" anything in the game, the better for the more advanced players. This answer seldom spurred any further questions and often completed the interaction.
The difference between Carl-Erik Engqvists piece and for example the intervention Velvet-strike, is the direct contact between fellow gamers. While Velvet-strike asked players in the game to ask questions about the nature and rhetoric of Counter Strike, the graffiti were available to see for all players in the game that happened to be present in the area where the graffiti was located. The individual players were left to either ignore them, totally miss them or reflect upon them un-aided by the artist. Some of the graffiti being were subtle and rarely detectable – other being quite loud and hard to ignore (see picture 6.). Despite the publicity they gained and the agitated voices that have been raised against both Velvet-strike and Dead in Iraq, the art interventions are of a peaceful kind. They do not in any drastic way interfere with the order of the game, they are not to be considered as cheating or corrupting the game –they are simply examples of behaviour outside the norm.
Considering this in relationship to Engqvist work, the whole interaction between artist and fellow gamers were direct and intimate, taking place in a private text-based conversation. The artist strongly feels that the personal contact that was established was essential to create an understanding of the ideas that he through his actions presented. It was also his belief that in such a situation (the private chat) he exposed himself to the possibility of rejection which made it easier for the newbies to accept him and his ideas as honest and possibly even inspirational.(see picture 7.) While organizations easily can become distant and somewhat abstract structures, the individual could become a very real kind stranger. The artist does here give expression for a strong belief in the power of the conversation and the impact that meetings do on the ones involved. A player can choose to ignore other player's invitations to a private chat so even in the very first seconds of the meeting, the whole endeavour can come to an end. A player has also the option to totally ignore future messages from a certain player, if he/she chooses to do so, which would not only result in the rejection of the very moment but works as a more long term rejection. To either welcome or ignore other player's efforts to strike up a conversation could thus be based on a decision made in less then a second.
By acting outside the game norm the artist singles himself out, an act that can be both fascinating and disturbing to other players – it has already been mentioned that the approached newbies all acted somewhat hesitant when offered an item for free. Besides showing new players that kindness can exist even in a world based on hard-core capitalism the artist also put a light on the question of trust; most players that enter this particular virtual world are all quite aware of the financial risks of putting their trust where it is abused. By offering items without any strings attached, the artist may have showed the approached newbies that some of your fellow players can be trusted...
There is a strong underlying political issue that the artist wishes to address: the capitalist structure of the world. Through the intervention this structure is being questioned but not directly challenged. After all, MindArk gets paid for the guns and ammo anyways; it's just a question of who is paying. But that is, on the other hand, a quite interesting question. The handing out of gun and ammo becomes an experiment to investigate the impact of non normative behaviour on a personal level in a controlled environment. Planet Calypso's micro economy affects the game mechanisms and gamer expectations, and thus offers a closed, controlled laboratory for social artistic performativity. Engqvist found a way to practice altruism in a game that fosters individualistic and/or egoistic behaviour. After all, the answer "to make it more fun" is a rather well put one – the ones that has most to gain from a more heavily populated virtual world are the ones who choose to inhabit it and act within it.
Some final words (by no means a conclusion)
Engqvist's approach could be viewed in several different ways. He is, according to the game norm, definitely a loser. He spends hard earned PED's on something that does not gain him anything that is really worth anything game-wise (experience, items or resources) but just something that has no in-game worth: the gratitude and (relative) friendship of the newbies that he supported.24 He is in also, as earlier mentioned, not really playing opposed to the rules, since there are no regulations for players to give items away for free. In a capitalistic context, he could be seen as both a loser and a kind of a winner. A loser in the respect that he does not gain anything financially – quite the opposite since he is spending money on a venture that isn't likely to gain him a single dime. But in the capitalist structure the worth of alms are nonetheless a measurement of wealth – if you can spare money, it means you live in a (relative) excess. In that respect, Engqvist would be on the winning side of things. The artist's role within the game could also be reasoned about. Since the act of giving things away for free isn't opposed to any kind of rules, it has (arguably) little value as an act of resistance or activism. As mentioned earlier – MindArk gets money in the bank no matter who buys the goods. His actions could be considered quite meaningless in the aspect that they rise very little public opinion. Some might even feel compelled to ask the question in what way this intervention differs from "normal" activity within games like this. The answer is easy: very little, indeed. What could be argued to be a difference is the fact that the world was thoroughly explored by the artist for a long period of time (nearly two years), and that the intervention was thought over and meticulously planned before it was performed. This argument would have it’s weaknesses: many players spend a long time within a world before they feel compelled to take action against what they perceive to be flaws or injustices. The thing that differs From Hand to Mouth to Laser is how it is contextualized. By documenting his acts, by verbalizing his thoughts about the game and game norms and by putting his work up for academic examination, Engqvist makes the act into art – he performs it.
The work could be critiqued for it's small scale – during the entire intervention a total of thirteen newbies were approached by the artist. But if all of these players in their turn were to give a gun to a newbie, the number of affected people would eventually grow to twice that size, and if the act were to spread to a third generation, it would be larger still. Of course, there is no guarantee that the pay-it-forward part will happen. And even if it were, it is of no consequence for this intervention – it would just be a good thing for the game world itself. The limited number of "spectators" of the original art piece are however no strong argument against this art work – many digitally based works are perceived by but a few people, and if the number of viewers were what defined art from non-art, many of the works by great old masters that today reside in private collections couldn't really be counted as art either. They are, however, often shown as reproductions in art books and encyclopaedias which grants them a spot in the art history and art world. From Hand to Mouth to Laser works in a different context. The art work is carried on not by the act itself, but by the ideas that survives it, and the discussions that come out of it. In a way, this very paper could be seen as an extension of the art piece.
1. See Christiane Paul, Digital Art, (Thames and Hudson, 2003).
2. Paul, p. 8.Appendix: Pictures
3. Henry Jenkins, “Games, the new lively art”, http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/GamesNewLively.html.
4. As discussed by Torill Elvira Mortensen in “Humans Playing World of Warcraft: or Deviant Strategies?”, Digital Culture, Play, and Identity, ed. Hilde G. Corneliussen & Jill Walker Rettberg (The MIT Press, 2008) P. 203- 223.
5. Velvet-strike, official homepage 2010-08-16, http://www.opensorcery.net/velvet-strike/submit.html
6. Paul Cockeram, Americas’s Army Preview, Gamefirst, http://www.gamesfirst.com/index.php?id=933
8. Li C. Kuo, A New Kind of Art Form Leads to a New Form of Protest, GameSpy, published online 2006-05-2. http://www.gamespy.com/pc/americas-army/709854p1.html
9. Pierluigi Casolari, “Joseph DeLappe: Dead-in-Iraq, 2005”, p. 124. Gamescenes: Art in the age of videogames, ed. Matteo Bittani & Domenico Quaranta, (Johan & Levi Editore, 2006). P. 122-125.
10. Planet Calypso homepage, ”The history of Planet Calypso”, http://www.planetcalypso.com/planetcalypso/ the-story-of-calypso/the-new-order/ 2010-06-28, 10:34.
11. Planet Calypso homepage, http://www.planetcalypso.com/planet-calypso/
12. For a more detailed description of the likenesses and differences between Second Life and Entropia Universe, you could read about it from a players point of view on for example Yuri Schmorgun,” Can Entropia Universe compete with Second Life ” http://www.helium.com/items/476503-can-entropia-universecompete- with-second-life
13. Planet Entropia Forum, thread initiated 2010-08-11, http://www.entropiaforum.com/forums/skills/194932- how-does-buying-skills-work.html
14. “Entropia Universe – Interview with Marco Behrmann”, Multiplayer Online Game Directory, 2007-05-18, http://www.mpogd.com/news/?ID=2656
15. For more reading about the attitude towards gold-trading within WoW, please read Torill Elvira Mortensen’s “Humans Playing World of Warcraft” in Digital culture, play, and identity, (MIT Press 2008)
16. Elina Heng,“ Entropia Universe Enters 2008 Guinness World Records Book for "Most Expensive Virtual World Object"”, Marketwire. Published 2007-09-18. http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Entropia- Universe-Enters-2008-Guinness-World-Records-Book-Most-Expensive-Virtual-World-770780.htm
18. Entropia Universe Forum, comment to the thread “United we stand divided we fall” posted by aridash, 2007-10-14. http://www.entropiaforum.com/forums/general-discussion/84976-united-we-s...
19. Entropia Universe Forum, thread named ”Scamming Methods Exposed” initiated by pepper, 2007-08-08, http://www.entropiaforum.com/forums/entropia-universe-tutorials/77924-sc...
20. Carl-Erik Engqvist, “Bloom, 2010”, http://www.visionaryexistence.com/bloom
21. Scott Rettberg, “Corporate Ideology in World of Warcraft”, p. 20, Digital Culture, Play, and Identity, ed Hilde G.Corneliussen & Jill Walker Rettberg (The MIT Press, 2008). P. 19-38.
22. “Entropia Universe – Interview with Marco Behrmann”, Multiplayer Online Game Directory, 2007-05-18, http://www.mpogd.com/news/?ID=2656
23. Entropiaplanets forum, posted 2010-01-08, http://www.entropiaplanets.com/forums/adopt-newbie/842- newbie-%3D-sign-up-%2Aadopt-newbie%2A-list.html ( 2010-07-26)
24. The ”friendship”-part based on the fact that most of the newbies after recieving their gun and ammo choose to add Engqvist’s avatar as a ”friend” in the game. This feature means that the player is notified as soon as Engqvist logs in to the game world, which could be seen as a wish to at least know when the “kind stranger” is online next time.