Tuesday, September 21

Video Games: Music, Movies and Fortnite: Welcome to Digital Convergence | Babelia


On May 1, 2018, a meteorite fell on the players of Fortnite. Literally. Users of this shooter game with stylish characters cartoon they could see a gigantic rock hurtling towards them from the sky of their digital universes. That was a visually spectacular anecdote but also the first step on a journey: it was an event in real time; the players were witnessing the passing of that meteorite at the same time, from any corner of the world.

In early May 2020, the game launched a huge virtual party with performances from DJs like Steve Aoki to celebrate its community reaching 350 million players. One month later, the building survival game Minecraft it was the scene of two other events with similar characteristics. At the end of june, Provided went a step further: “Everyone for popcorn! This Friday we will try to make a movie night on the big screen ”, said the website of Epic Games, the American developer of the game. “We are going to offer limited broadcasts of one of these three Christopher Nolan feature films (Origin, Batman Beings O The final trick) directly in Fortnite”. At those concerts or movie screenings, the player came to the world of Minecraft, for example, and walked his avatar to the huge stage where the event took place. In other words, the most characteristic elements of actual attendance at a show were taken and transferred to the digital environment in a mechanism that was more reminiscent of the original Second Life than the adrenaline dynamics of a normal game Minecraft O Fortnite.

These events, prompted in part by the confinement due to the coronavirus, have been such a success (in Fortnite 12.3 million players followed the concert of Travis Scott and 10.7 million that of Marshmello) that four days ago we knew of the investment by Sony of 250 million dollars in Epic Games. Sony strongly believes that the future of video games, concerts and even cinema will unfold in confluent virtual environments.

Image of one of the real-time concert events of 'Minecraft'.
Image of one of the real-time concert events of ‘Minecraft’.

Over time, artists like Gorillaz and Björk have tested technologies for giving digital concerts. And on stage we have seen holograms of Tupac Shakur, Elvis or Michael Jackson for years – a separate mention deserves Hatsune Miku, an entirely digital Japanese singer whose lack of existence does not prevent her from moving around the world on famous tours. But until now the digital environment was not mature enough. Or, if it was (case of Second Life), the technology was limited and the community smaller. Today, we can legitimately ask ourselves if the 350 million Fortnite players constitute, in addition to a community of players, one of the largest social networks in the world. The convergence of leisure seems inevitable.

But let’s take your foot off the gas. The truth is that the effervescence of modernity is usually accompanied by the pause of legality. This type of new interactions pose a whole battery of questions that must be elucidated if one wants to act safely. From the economic aspect to the legal issues, it is not clear how to frame these types of events. Are they really concerts? Are we talking about live creation or mere reproduction? Where are the royalties or distribution rights?

Also, let’s get to the big question: who pays for this? Most of these events have been free, but that is something that could change (and surely will change) in the future. Currently, one of the trickiest questions in the world of video games online are known as loot boxesRandom prize boxes – costumes, weapons, upgrades – that the player can purchase with a small payment of real money. The truth is that, although several jurisdictions already consider these loot boxes As one more extension of the betting market, its implantation in the digital world, as so often, has long preceded effective legislation against them.

It is possible that that world praised by so many, that metaverse that was so well reflected in Ready Player One, Matrix, Tron O Brazil is closer than expected. However, at least initially, it will be more like the Wild West than a regulated and organized universe. At the concerts of Fortnite there were no shoving, no back pocket thefts, no exceptionally expensive beers available to attendees. But it is possible that in the future we will come across their digital equivalents, such as localities premium of payment, or the possibility of chatting by videoconference with the artists previous payment. Music and cinema are welcome to the virtual environment. But welcome are also the attempts of the world real to regulate the world digital that is coming to us.


elpais.com

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