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December 02, 2003Shame and Ridicule. A few weeks ago, Sony was brought low by the power of distributed computing. Allow Ghenwivar to tell the story: "On monday November 17th, in the most amazing and exciting battle ever, Ascending Dawn, Wudan and Magus Imperialis Magicus defeated Kerafyrm, also known as The Sleeper, for the first time ever on an EverQuest server."
For the unitiated, Everquest is "the world's #1 massively multiplayer online game" and recently its owner, Sony Online Entertainment, decided to spice things up by creating an "unkillable" monster. Big mistake.
People love a challenge - and many full-on gamers have (an at least slightly) obsessive nature. So 200 players, from the world's top guilds, clubbed together and spent four hours... clubbing the thing to the ground.
And they had to do it twice - because the first time Sony couldn't believe what was happening and simply pulled the plug.
So why does this matter? Well two reasons that I can see. First, as Reason's Hit and Run points out, it demonstrates how powerful networks can be: "The basic problem for any central entity trying to cope with a very distributed computing network. Anything you build will face tens of thousands of man hours dedicated to taking it apart."
And second, as Andrew Phelps (a technology professor and hardcore gamer) puts it, Sony's reaction to challenge (if you don't play by our rules, then we'll change them) shows how little big companies understand about the forces they've unleashed.
"We thought you understood us better," Andy admonishes. "The fact you let it happen the next night means very little - the point is on that first magical evening when warriors rode off to battle the supreme, you meddled. They thought of something you didn't, something legal by the rules of the game you set forward, and you meddled. In the parlance of the world you created: 'shame & ridicule'."