Aangell, Uri, Jeff and Jack in Italy’s La Stampa

by Alphaville Herald on 26/06/04 at 11:46 pm

What can I say except :o . The Italian newspaper La Stampa recently ran an article on events in Alphaville, which, though more or less incoherent, did have lots to say about Alphaville denizen Aangell and Urizenus (the termination again), woven in with quotes from EA’s Jeff Brown and Yale law prof Jack Balkin. The depth of confusion is special even by Italian standards, including the notion that the Sims 2 is going to be an Online Roleplaying Game. I wasn’t interviewed for the article (it seems to have been extracted from the New York Times article and the Boston Globe article). If you can read Italian the link is above. If you can’t, I did a rough literal translation of the article. Feel free to correct the translation (my Italian is 6 years rusty).


The young trouble makers of Internet City

The scandals of Alphaville – simulated city created for the Sims Online. Electronic Simulacra known as “avatars”

Fabio Sindici
22 june 2004

She is between 26 and 28 years old, hates to work, and spends the nights party hopping. The girl calls herself Aangell (with two A’s and two L’s); and she describes herself as being very spoiled (vitiated), but that the men of Alphaville like her that way: capricious and transgressive.

But wait. Aangell is not a woman of flesh and blood, just as Alphaville it is not a city of bricks, bridges and asphalt. We are at an uncertain latitude on the map of the cyberspace, inside an interactive game that connects thousands of persons, in various parts of the world, via the screens of their computers.

The name of the game is Sims Online, and Aangell is, in point of fact, a “sim”, an electronic simulacra — an “avatar”, as they say in internet jargon. In other words, a person who moves in a virtual world, guided by its typist. A world where the avatar meets others simulacri. On the other end of modem is Angel (and her only), a girl from North Carolina. We don’t know if Angel, away from the internet, shares the same defects and the foibles off her pixilated alias. For certain, together with her avatar, she spends her nights at the Sim Sorority House, “the best place to have fun in Alphaville”, entertains men moving her fingers on the keyboard, and she spends simoleans, virtual currency, that can be exchanged at an ever increasing rate in dollars internet sites specializing in these exchanges.

In the USA, the sociologists are becoming concerned: the borders between digital worlds and real life is becoming relaxed and confused. It is demonstrated by the recent scandal that has shaken Alphaville, and from there has moved onto the paper and ink of the New York Times and the Boston Globe. Peter Ludlow, distinguished Professor of philosophy and linguistics at the University of Michigan and reporter on the hunt for scoops for the Alphaville Herald, a blog and main newspaper of the virtual community, was banned from Sims Online on the decision of the corporation that manages it, the Electronic Arts Corptation. The reasons? According to the Electronic Arts, the university professor violated the rules, putting prohibited links on his newspaper. Ludlow disagrees: it was an authentic case of censorship, perhaps the first in a virtual city. What may have troubled EA was the inquiry of the newspaper into the prostitution rings in Alphaville, which, according to Ludlow, involved minors.

The journalist/professor spoke to “mafia” members and adolescent prostitutes, that are paid in simoleans which are then changed into dollars (the medium compensation of a prostitute corresponds to 13 euros). The newspaper counts many faithful readers, but for other players, Urizenus, l’alter ego of Ludlow, is only a “muck raker”. Ludlow defends the substance of its articles.

Recently, two lovers from Alphaville met and were married in a church in Texas. And the sociologists are raising the possibility that the meetings in the dark part of Alphaville can jump the electronic steccati ones. “It is only a game, no law is broken” contends Jeff Brown, vice president of Electronic Arts.

Inside The Sims Online, the sex is jn fact only made of words, of connections of images, a mimicry of an embrace from far away. But the emotions are true. “The more the more time we pass in these virtual environments, the greater becomes the necessity of certain rules” says Jack Balkin, director dell’Information Society Project all’universit of Yale. Sims online is a dwarf on the Web, with its approximately 60 thousand subscribers, compared to games like Everquest, where 450 thousand players play in medieval scenes. There is but one difference, according to the sociologists: Alphaville is not a fantastic place, but reproduces normal quarters, similar lives to those of reality. Only that often the behaviors adopt in these alternative existences are diverse, deviant. They turn on the chat dedicated to the game, stories of psychologists (real) to which the patients tell the problems of their simulacras.

The Alphaville of 2004 recalls the hypocrisies of the cinematographic Peyton Place of the ’50s. Its limited success is in part due to a still imperfect software. But the version Sims 2 is already ready, and will go online at the end of the year, and that could increase the number of the players. Ludlow-Urizenus, meanwhile, continues bring out inquiries on his blog. And he continues in creating embarrassments for the Electronic Arts. He contends that the Alphaville name on the masthead is only a homage to the film of Jean-Luc Godard. But, perhaps, he is not able to entirely remove himself from the virtual community where he has left, in addition to his readers, a cat [cheddar cheese cheetah] and one house: “I cannot leave without doing something” he says. “I still have the feeling of having a role in that city”.

Who knows if Aangell, the vitiated sexy girl, in her good nights at the Sorority House, has the same feeling.

8 Responses to “Aangell, Uri, Jeff and Jack in Italy’s La Stampa”

  1. Liz

    Jun 27th, 2004

    this is the first time i am ever hearing that sims2 will be an online game? i thought it was just going to be an improved version of the regular offline original sims game (not the online one), unless i am misunderstanding this?

  2. Urizenus

    Jun 27th, 2004

    No, the reporter was confused. It’s an offline game.

  3. Aangell

    Jun 29th, 2004

    Woohoo! Im famous

  4. Urizenus

    Jun 29th, 2004

    Not just famous, you naughty sim, but *internationally* famous. Woot!

  5. oknal

    Jul 4th, 2004

    Uri, are you already a “distinguished Professor of philosophy and linguistics”? I thought “serissimo” was only a superlative of “serio”, meaning more like “a most serious professor” or “an actual professor”, “a true professor” …

  6. oknal

    Jul 4th, 2004

    I have to correct myself, I didn’t mean to say ‘superlative’ but … khm, more like ‘augmentative’. I came to think (/i realized) this actually only means “very serious”.
    so much for my italian :)

  7. urizenus

    Jul 5th, 2004

    I think ‘distinguished’ is the best transltin in this context. And yah, once I held a “distinguished” Fulbright “Chair” at the University of Venice. But I confess that in fact I am more extinguished than distinguished:

  8. humdog

    Jul 6th, 2004

    i like that word “vitiated”.

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