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Internet Entertainment

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Abstract and Figures

Growth in the development of Internet Entertainment applications and systems is likely to rival Internet Commerce as the largest growth area of the Internet in the next decade. Internet Entertainment is the application of programs and systems on the Internet to provide a means for Internet users to participate in an activity that is entertaining and more than cursory. Examples of Internet Entertainment are single and multi-player games played through Internet host systems, interactive video and multimedia systems and Internet "Infotainment" web sites. This paper will show that the potential market for Internet Entertainment is considerable and to achieve even a small market penetration should provide a reasonable income. The Internet provides avenues for advertising and income derived from the provision of different forms of Entertainment.
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ausweb.scu.edu.au http://ausweb.scu.edu.au/aw99/papers/gregory2/paper.html
Internet Entertainment
Mark A Gregory BEng. (Elec)(Hons) MEng., Senior Lecturer, Department of Communication and Electronic
Engineering, RMIT University, m.gregory@rmit.edu.au
Steven Michener BSc. MSc., Interactive Entertainment Technology Pty Ltd ceo@ietec.com
Professor Paula Swatman BEc. PGDipBus. Ph.D., Director, Interactive Information Institute, RMIT University,
paula.swatman@rmit.edu.au
Keywords
Internet Entertainment, Social Issues, Ethical Issues, Training Developers, Industry Involvement, Case Studies
Abstract
Growth in the development of Internet Entertainment applications and systems is likely to rival Internet Commerce as
the largest growth area of the Internet in the next decade. Internet Entertainment is the application of programs and
systems on the Internet to provide a means for Internet users to participate in an activity that is entertaining and more
than cursory. Examples of Internet Entertainment are single and multi-player games played through Internet host
systems, interactive video and multimedia systems and Internet "Infotainment" web sites.
This paper will show that the potential market for Internet Entertainment is considerable and to achieve even a small
market penetration should provide a reasonable income. The Internet provides avenues for advertising and income
derived from the provision of different forms of Entertainment.
There is significant demand for graduates who have considerable knowledge in the tools and techniques used to
develop Internet Entertainment applications and systems. Research into Internet Entertainment systems is being
used as a vehicle to provide undergraduate and postgraduate students at the Royal Melbourne Institute of
Technology with the requisite knowledge.
The Interactive Information Institute [HREF1] at RMIT University [HREF2] supports the research project. Each of the
research project activities relies on key technologies, such as web sites, user downloadable programs, client server
components and databases.
Introduction
The growth in Internet Entertainment has been largely understated in the media. A low-key approach is generally
used to alert Internet users to new developments in Internet Entertainment. This topic is explored to provide an
understanding of the forms of Internet Entertainment and the social and ethical dimensions.
The proportion of the total population to grow up since the beginning of the personal computer age is increasing. This
section of the population is considered to be the "computer literate younger generation". As the computer generation
grows we see some interesting trends developing. One of the trends has been a change in the leisure activities of
younger people. No longer do we see younger people spending their leisure time as their parents did. Now leisure
activities for the young are likely to involve some form of electronic computer technology.
The number of core creative people involved in the development and release of a major new CDROM game has now
reached a level that rivals the number of people employed during the production of a medium-sized animated film.
The games are a sophisticated example of an expanding entertainment form, using state of the art technology,
massive computing power and involve plots that require more than a cursory effort.
The Internet is a recent phenomenon and there is already an unsatisfied demand for trained people who will
participate in the development and implementation of new Internet Entertainment applications and systems. The
growing effort required to satisfy consumer demands for more sophisticated entertainment is bringing many new
people into the industry from nearly every professional category
The second part of this paper will report on the progress of undergraduate and postgraduate Internet Entertainment
research efforts at the RMIT University Interactive Information Institute. The research being carried out by
undergraduate and postgraduate students is used as a vehicle to provide graduates with the requisite knowledge
necessary to be successful in the Internet Entertainment discipline.
What is Internet Entertainment? Internet Entertainment can be defined as the application of programs and systems
on the Internet to provide a means for Internet users to participate in an activity that is entertaining and structured.
Why is Internet Entertainment important? Internet Entertainment is important for the pleasure that it will bring to the
Internet Users and for the revenue that it will bring to the service providers.
US Senator Jon Kyl [HREF3] recently wrote "$600 million was illegally gambled on sporting contests over the Internet
last year. That is a ten-fold increase in this criminal activity from just a year earlier, according to the Department of
Justice. Numbers like that support the prediction by law enforcement that "cybergambling" on the Internet will be a
multi-billion dollar industry by the year 2000".
Microsoft has entered the Internet Entertainment industry in a big way. The Microsoft Game Zoneä [HREF4]
Newsletter "IN THE Z O N E", March 1999 (#14) contained the following statistics:
6 -- ZONESTATS
*Over 31,900 users connected simultaneously to the Zone at peak times!
*We've topped 4,000,000 members!
*Over 200,000 unique visitors per day -- more people visit us every day than visit all the Disney theme parks
combined!
*We serve up a million hours of gaming every weekend -- or, another way of looking at it, 114 years!
*Total Number of Zone Games: 95
Premium Games: 5
Free Zone Games: 23
Retail Games: 67
Microsoft’s revenue streams from the Game Zoneä include:
Advertising and cross promotion of other Microsoft products
Enhanced CDROM game sales by providing a forum for multiplayer game hosting
Direct income through "Premium Games". Premium games are only available through the Game Zoneä.
People pay per session to participate in multiplayer games. At the time of writing this paper (non-peak in the
US) over 1500 people were participating in premium games. The users pay about US$2.00 per hour to play
the premium games.
The Microsoft Game Zoneä could be considered to be an indication of the future of Internet Entertainment. If this is so
then revenue from the premium games alone would be more than US$25 million per year based on an average of
1500 participants per hour.
By reviewing the earlier newsletters it is possible to see that the number of people using the Microsoft Game Zoneä is
increasing rapidly. The Game Zoneä statistics quoted show that at peak times over 31,900 users connected
simultaneously to the Game Zoneä. If an Australian company was able to start their own interactive game site and to
attract even a small proportion of the people currently accessing the Microsoft Game Zoneä then this company would
achieve a reasonable income.
This example should not be considered in isolation. The prediction made by Senator Kyl that the US Internet
gambling turn-over being in the multi-billion range by the year 2000 is an indication that a global prediction for all
forms of Internet Entertainment may be in the multi-hundred billion range in the decade after 2000.
Forms of Internet Entertainment
Forms of Internet Entertainment can be categorised and parallels exist with other forms of entertainment. Many forms
of entertainment fall into one or more categories.
Broadcast non-interactive entertainment:
Forms of broadcast entertainment found on the Internet are the real-time streaming of audio, music, video and
movies.
Broadcast interactive entertainment:
This is an emerging field. Initial attempts in this field have struggled for acceptance. Examples are television or
cinema movies that have the plot line shaped by viewer input in real time. A more exciting Internet opportunity
in this area will be discussed later in this paper.
Non-broadcast non-interactive entertainment:
Information retrieval. Searching the web for information and retrieving the information when it is found. The
Internet has quickly become the greatest source of information available. Unfortunately, for every web site
containing valid information there is now an equal number of web sites that contain misleading, mischievous
and sometimes-dangerous information.
Reading a novel published on the web.
Reading a web version of print media including magazines, newspapers, etc.
The retrieval of audio, music, video and movies from an Internet server to an Internet users system for non-real
time playback.
Non-broadcast interactive entertainment:
Web browsing. This category includes web sites that require more than the usual user input as part of the
process of using the web site. An example site is CarPoint where VRML is used to provide users with a 3D
virtual reality view of vehicles. The user is able to move the viewpoint around, inside and outside, a vehicle.
It is likely in the future that the web itself will transform into an environment where the user can move through
the web in a virtual reality world rather than in the real world environment that we do now. In Tom Clancy’s Net
Force (Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik 1998) such a future Internet is used as a vehicle for a crime thriller
[1].
Internet gaming. This includes all forms of gaming, including lotteries, casino gaming, promotional incentives,
etc.
Single and multi-player games. The difference between this category and the Internet Gaming category is that
the players are not betting on game play. This definition is becoming very grey in reality with many variations of
incentives being used to attract game participants.
Adult entertainment. Adult entertainment has exploded onto the Internet. This is one industry that seems
certain to find a most lucrative home on the Internet.
Participatory web sites. Participatory web site include clubs, user groups, infotainment sites (a site that
provides information on all aspects of a topic and provides mechanisms for the user to interact with other
people interested in the topic, for example a web site about weddings (Weddings) ).
Online shopping. The act of shopping is for many people a form of entertainment. Shopping sites may be a
very plain online form of a product catalogue or could be a web site that provides a range of information about
the products. An example is Women.com [HREF5]. When you visit Women.com you are presented with a
whole range of information about women’s issues and products for women. The Internet user is then able to
make a purchase having spent some time learning about the product and hopefully making a more informed
purchase.
There is a synergy between Internet Entertainment and Electronic Commerce. Where Internet Entertainment involves
payment by the Internet User to gain access Internet Entertainment becomes a form of Electronic Commerce.
Electronic Commerce (Wigand R. 1997) is defined as:
"Electronic Commerce denotes the application of information and communication technology from its point of
origin to its endpoint along any portion of the entire value system of business processes conducted
electronically in combination with manual processes designed to enable the accomplishment of (or a part of) a
business goal. These processes may be partial or complete and may encompass business-to-business as well
as business-to-consumer and consumer-to-business transactions."
Social and Ethical Dimensions of Internet Entertainment
The following is a discussion of some of the social and ethical implications of Internet Entertainment that may warrant
the attention of social professionals.
Television as a an internet precedent technology
Both individually and collectively, humans easily become enthralled and even obsessed with new concepts and ways
of relating to the world such as with our love affair with television.
In "TV Mania: A Timeline of Television" (Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1998), Pavese and Henry track the history of American
entertainment programming. They note that at the inception of regular network programming in the mid-1940s,
television was viewed as a "magic window on the world" but over the years has received a broad spectrum of moral
judgements.
Always controversial, television has been maligned as dangerous - due variously to its content or its command over
our time - and praised as a medium that brings us together. It has empowered education, individual understanding,
and a wealth of shared memories as diverse as the first walk on the moon and the last episode of "Seinfeld".
Today, with over fifty years of television entertainment behind us, the act of watching television is an integral part of
everyday life in many, if not most, countries around the world. Yet we seem to lack the perspective to fully understand
our relationship with this powerful and still-evolving medium, let alone make a definitive statement on the nature of its
impact.
Internet growth
Worldwide, surveys are indicating enormous growth in Internet use. In Australia, an article in "The Age" newspaper of
2nd March 1999 notes that: "Data released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveals that nearly
4.2million adults - or 31 percent of the adult population - had Internet access in the year to November 1998" (Farrant
D. 1999). The rapid growth in the number of users represented by this level of access cannot, of course, continue at
the present rate, but there is clear evidence of a rush to obtain Internet access by obtain Internet access by people of
all walks of life.
The Internet was opened up to commercial usage in March 1991, after the National Science Foundation lifted
restrictions on the commercial use of the Net. Although the World Wide Web was released in the same year, it was
not until the wider acceptance of Web browsers (such as Mosaic, launched in 1993) that interest in the Internet really
took off. As Hobbes' Internet Timeline [HREF6] succinctly describes this phenomenon: "1993 - Mosaic takes the
Internet by storm; WWW proliferates at a 341,634 percent annual growth rate of service traffic".
User interaction
At first, it was not possible to interact easily in a direct, real-time way with other people, but this is no longer the case.
With advances in Internet telephone, video conferencing, chat rooms and interactive Internet activities it is possible
that the average person will have daily contact with more people that they were able to contact before joining the
Internet. The difference is that the interaction is not a physical one. Does this matter? It is possible that this may affect
Internet users who do not interact with others yet most people do not closet themselves away from the real world.
Isaac Asimov (Asimov I 1957) discussed the issue of virtual versus physical contact in a series of visionary novels
published in the 1950s.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to resolve this contentious issue - but it is clear that this is a rich field for research
into Internet usage.
Gambling
While Australian governments are progressing legislation and regulations for interent gambling anti-internet gambling
proponents in the US recently moved to have Internet Gaming prohibited.
The following quote is from an Interactive Gaming Council [HREF7] press release on October 21, 1998:
"Congress Strips Internet Gaming Prohibition From Final Budget Bill Responding to concerns from the technology
community, House and Senate adjourn without adopting feel-good, but unenforceable, Kyl bill.
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Heeding the advice of the United States Department of Justice, the internet industry,
regulators, and fantasy sports fans, Congress adjourned for 1998 after stripping language from major
legislation that would have attempted to prohibit internet gambling.
The language, introduced by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl (R), would have made the placement of any "bet or
wager" over the internet a federal felony. Included in this broad definition of gambling would have been
innocuous activities such as fantasy football, rotisserie-league baseball, fantasy investment challenges, and
other traditional games of skill. It would have also prohibited on-line contests sponsored by NASA, the National
Science Teachers Association, and other educational groups."
The testimony of Mr. Alan Schneider [HREF8], Executive Director IGC, before the US National Gaming Impact
Study Commission Internet Subcommittee Meeting in Washington, D.C. December 2, 1998 made reference to
the level of debate in the US on the Queensland Government Internet Gambling Player Protection Act
[HREF9]. Mr Schneider stated that "major industrialized nations are beginning to accept on-line wagering as
legitimate entertainment".
The general position that has been adopted by organisations supporting Interactive Gaming has been that an attempt
to prohibit Interactive Gaming would be almost impossible and a great waste of precious resources.
That there are social and ethical problems associated with Interactive Gaming is not in dispute. The following quote is
taken from an article written by U.S. Senator Jon Kyl called "Gambling on the Internet [HREF10]" and released on
Friday 13 March 1998:
"Gambling can also have some terrible consequences for families and communities. The Council on
Compulsive Gambling says that five percent of all gamblers become addicted, and that 90 percent of that
group turn to crime to finance their habit, 80 percent contemplate suicide, and approximately one in five
actually attempt suicide. We all pay for those tragedies.
Experts have also said that gambling over the Internet enhances the addictive nature of gambling because it is
so easy to do (you don’t have to travel to Nevada, you can just log on to your computer), it can become part of
a daily routine, and it can be done from the privacy of your own home. One professor has described electronic
gaming, like the type being offered in the "virtual casinos" on the Internet, as the "hard core crack cocaine of
gambling."
Dr. Howard Schaeffer of the Harvard Center for Addictive Studies, predicts within ten years youth gambling will
be more of a problem to society than drug use."
To discover the depth of the social and ethical problems associated with gaming one should visit the many
organisations like 36 affiliate Councils and non-affiliated Councils of the US National Council on Problem Gambling,
Inc [HREF11]. The US National Council on Problem Gambling defines Problem Gambling as:
"gambling behavior which causes disruption in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social or
vocational. The term "Problem Gambling" includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as "Pathological,"
or "Compulsive" Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing preoccupation with gambling,
a need to bet more money more frequently, restlessness or irritability when attempting to stop, "chasing"
losses, and loss of control manifested by continuation of the gambling behavior in spite of mounting, serious,
negative consequences."
One of the vast number of US problem gambler support organisations is the North American Training Institute
[HREF12] (NATI). NATI is a division of the Minnesota Council on Compulsive Gambling Inc. The NATI mission
statement is:
"This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 corporation that was created in 1988. Its mission is to facilitate
research, conduct professional training, study treatment techniques, methods and programs, support public
education and provide prevention services.
Through its Training Institute, the Council designs and conducts comprehensive programs to provide specific
knowledge and advanced training leading to national certification for professionals in the prevention, treatment
and rehabilitation of compulsive gamblers. In addition, the Training Institute serves the medical community
through continuing medical education programs.
The North American Training Institute's international affiliations and services result in its involvement in a broad
scope of policy, research and educational matters at the state, national and international levels. Further, the
Training Institute convenes public policy think tanks on issues related to policy concerns."
The evidence is fairly strong that people like to gamble. Should the individuals desire to new forms of Interactive
Gaming be the overriding concern or that there is a social cost and ethical dilemma associated with Interactive
Gaming? Is it simply a case of saying that trying to ban Interactive Gaming over the Internet would be nearly
impossible and a huge waste of precious resources?
Adult entertainment
Although adult entertainment site operators may see themselves as providing a valuable service many people see
adult sites as the most invasive form of Internet Entertainment.
The methods used by adult entertainment site operators to advertise are becoming more provocative. Junk e-mail
from adult entertainment site operators abounds. A new approach is to use Web page redirectors. If an Internet user
accidentally misspells a URL, for example http://www.microsofy.com/, the Internet user is sent to an adult
entertainment site, http://www.babekiss.com/.
The end result of this behaviour may be greater regulation of the Internet - yet to some, any restrictions placed on the
Internet may be abhorrent. Another approach is to promote development of Internet tools that will limit or prevent
access to certain categories of Web sites from the computer on which the tool is installed. A good example of this type
of tool is NetNanny [HREF13].
The future
Unlike television, which in its original format has now practically reached saturation levels in the industrialised world,
Internet technologies and applications will reach further into our working and entertainment domains. Some people
see large screen 3D-video Internet telephony, virtual reality and other technologies taking us towards world
community, eliminating isolation and prejudice. On the other hand, some fear the technology is leading us to real time
pornographic gambling pestilence, with the concentration of development of expensive emerging technologies in a
few countries, companies, or techno-tyrants.
The only certainty is that the technology is coming with social change to follow. Ignorance will serve the abusers of
human nature. Serious research and education in Internet Entertainment will equip developers and users of the
technology with the knowledge to make more informed decisions effecting the future of us all.
The initiative by Multi-Media Victoria to establish the RMIT University Interactive Information Institute, is a positive
leap in the necessary research effort.
Training Internet Developers
The Internet is no longer unsophisticated. There is competition in all categories of Internet activity. How do you attract
Internet users to your web site? How do you create a "category killer"?
The answer to this involves understanding corporate history. Search for market niches. Be first. Create and maintain
global alliances. Use the latest technology to make your site the most captivating. Take every opportunity as they
come along.
Training Internet developers is not a simple task. The Internet developer must understand many things to become a
leader in their chosen field and the most important of these is how to work in an Internet development team.
It is most unusual today for a single person to develop and maintain a web site. It is possible, however, it is likely the
web site would be limited in the technologies used.
A typical Internet development team would consist of the following people:
Manager. The manager provides support, guidance and is responsible for the outcome.
Programmers. The programmers create the web pages, filters, scripts or executable code used on the web
site. The programmers may be expert in one or more programming languages.
Graphic Artists. The visual aspects of web sites are very important and may include 2D graphics and 3D
representations.
Database Programmers. The databases may include customer databases, product databases, etc. This is
usually a major activity.
Electronic Commerce experts. The provision of adequate security and the transfer of funds as payment for
goods and services are activities that cannot be compromised.
Information architects. Information architects craft the information on the web site.
Marketing experts. Marketing experts ensure that the company’s marketing plan is properly implemented on
the web site.
Customer service team. The customer service team interacts with the customers by responding to e-mail
queries, telephone queries, satisfy customer orders, and complaints.
Web Site Administrators. Web site administrators are responsible for the operation of the hardware and
software.
There is a gulf appearing between the individual skills training being provided by traditional training establishments
and the skills needed to gain good employment. Put simply, it is not sufficient today for a computer science graduate
to have a good knowledge of "C++". The computer science graduate must have experience in how to write ActiveX
controls, COM components, using CORBA, writing ISAPI filters, writing Microsoft Windows NT™ services and so on.
This problem appears for all graduates who wish to gain employment in an Internet development team. Most
companies realise that graduates are generally in need of an additional training year to learn individual and groups
skills beyond those being provided by the training establishments.
Whilst a traditional training establishment is usually very good at providing individual skills they are not very good at
providing group skills. This is often because it is perceived that the types of activities required for the development of
group skills are beyond the capabilities of the training establishment. A university is not likely to set up a car
manufacturing plant so as to ensure that mechanical engineering graduates learn to work in the vehicle development
team. However it is very possible for a university to set up Internet site development teams aimed at different Internet
industries.
Put simply, the training establishments should provide students with necessary individual skills and then the students
should be placed into an Internet development team for further training. The Internet development team should
consist of undergraduate and postgraduate students who range from just entering the team through to those nearing
graduation. There is a need for academic support and some professional staff who provide continuity. The students
put into these teams should include all of the disciplines identified in the "typical" Internet development team listed
above.
What should the Internet development teams do? The Internet development teams should work on real Internet sites
that are either showcases of development or operating sites sponsored by industry.
Case Studies: Interactive Gaming and Internet Entertainment
The first two Internet development teams at RMIT University were activated in 1996 and there has been over 50
students involved with the two teams to date. In addition there are five professional staff working part-time on the
projects. As time progresses more students are asking to participate and they are coming from a wider range of
University Departments. The mechanisms to permit students from different Faculties and Departments to participate
together on a single project are still being worked out.
An Internet Interactive Gaming site is being developed at the RMIT University Interactive Information Institute in
conjunction with Pacific Casino Management Pty. Ltd. This activity can be found on the Internet at AusCasino
[HREF14]. The original purpose of this research activity was to develop a regulatory model and core technologies
that will provide security, user friendly operation and will satisfy government scrutiny. It is intended that this system
will become an operational system in 1999. The system will operate in one of the Australian States that have recently
moved to legalise Internet Interactive Gaming.
A generic Internet Entertainment site is being developed to showcase multi-player game technology. This activity can
be found on the Internet at AusGame [HREF15] . This is an excellent ongoing activity. Students are interested in
games, especially multi-player games. This activity could potentially continue forever.
AusGame Internet Entertainment
The AusGame system model is shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: AusGame System Model
The key components in the AusGame system are:
Web Browser. The web browser is used to connect to the web site and to host the Java or ActiveX game client.
AusGame Web Site. Members are able to login to the system and carry out functions on the web site such as
viewing their game history, any games that are "frozen" in the database and other general functions.
AusGame SQL Server. The database is used to store member information. The database is used to manage
features like the "tournament" sessions.
Game Server. This is the server component of a game. The game server is used to provide a communication
channel between the game clients and to interact with the SQL server during game play.
Game Client. The game client provides the user interface for the game.
The information flows shown in Figure 1 are:
Red Arrows. The user logs in to the Web site and this information is passed to the database.
Green Arrows. The database allocates a game session identifier and this is sent to the web browser where it is
stored as a frame variable. When a user selects a game to play the user id and session key are sent to the
game client.
Purple Arrows. When the game client starts it establishes a connection with the game server. The game client
passes the user id and session key to the game server. The game server passes the user id and session key
to the database so as to "close the loop" and to identify a game client.
Some of the important features of this system model are:
When each game client connects to the game server a new "thread" is created to manage this connection. The game
server maintains a game state record that is used to provide the information needed to "freeze" the game at any
instance. Users can opt to stop a game and continue the game at a later time.
A significant feature provided by this system model is to provide a level of reliability unmatched today to the authors
knowledge. If one of the players is disconnected unexpectedly from a game the game server will shift the game state
record to different memory, close the lost users connection thread and inform the other game player that their
opponent has been unexpectedly disconnected. The player who was disconnected is provided with an opportunity to
rejoin the game for up to 15 minutes prior to the game server cancelling the game and providing the player still active
with a choice of storing the game for future play or discarding the game.
This level of reliability is considered very important to maintaining the interest of the average user. Internet lag, line
dropouts and other communication problems are still reasonably common. If a user has been playing a game for a
period of time the user will be most disappointed if a communications problem prevented the user from continuing.
The most hated of all game errors is the dreaded "synch" error (a term used to describe all manner of problems)
which usually accompanies a message saying your connection to the game was lost.
There is an associated processing and bandwidth cost when providing high reliability. Many real-time games may not
be able to operate under this regime on the Internet today. With the introduction of Internet 2 it will provide an
opportunity for all game developers to revisit this issue and to provide greater reliability similar to that implemented in
AusGame.
The game clients are written in either Java or ActiveX depending on the degree of animation needed. The game
clients communicate with the game servers using raw sockets. The game server is probably the most interesting of
the components. The game servers are currently written in Win32 API as Microsoft Windows NT services. The level
of expertise needed to correctly write and debug NT services is high. With the introduction of ATL 3.0 the AusGame
game servers are being converted to ATL 3.0 and being re-written as NT services with COM objects.
The introduction of COM has prompted a rethink of the structure of all of the system components. The capabilities
provided by the distributed task allocation possible with COM should provide productivity and efficiency gains.
Training Cycle
Students learn a range of skills by participating in the research project. As this activity has been going now for about
three years a routine has been adopted to ensure that students gain knowledge and skills in minimum time so that
they are able to move onto completing tasks that are more demanding. The cycle described below is primarily aimed
at the graduates who will fit into the category of "programmer" in the Internet development team. We have adopted
training cycles for other categories of student.
To gain an understanding of the methodology to move programming students through the learning cycle several
issues need to be explained and justified. The first of the issues is the choice of platform and development software.
The development of Internet applications or systems can be achieved today with a myriad of tools on a number of
different platforms. There was a need to reduce the number of tools used by the students. Students would be able to
concentrate their learning by only using a few application development tools and for the research supervisors to
provide support by gaining expert knowledge of a limited range of application development tools.
The choice was simplified further when RMIT University entered into the Microsoft University Select License program.
The operating system for all development and operating platforms is Microsoft Windows NT™. The Microsoft Visual
Studio™ suite of application development tools are used primarily, however there is a need to utilise the Microsoft
Java Development Kit and the Microsoft Platform SDK for some of the development.
The first activity that programming students carry out is to progress through two of the "Teach Yourself X in 21 days"
series of software books (Ori Gurewich and Nathan Gurewich 1996). The two basic application development tools
used are Visual C++™ and Visual Java™ so programming students must gain rudimentary skills with these tools
before progressing.
After programming students have completed this step they are ready to attempt the development of the client for a
game. Students will work in teams during this activity. The team selects a game, such as chess or checkers and
develops the client aspects of the game. Students are able to consider the source code for previously developed
games to assist them with developing the client. Support is available from more experienced students and staff.
The next step is for students to develop a Microsoft Windows NT™ service written in C++. This Windows NT service
is the multi-threaded server side of the game. The server component is the interface to the database and to the other
game players.
When this is finished the students move the prototype onto the game site and test the game components to make
sure that they work with the web site and the database correctly. This activity can take considerable time as students
need to be shown how to debug Windows NT™ services - not a trivial task.
The students have now completed their first game development and should by this time have gained enough
knowledge of the system to be moved onto web site or database development tasks. The web site utilises a large
number of scripts and variables. These need to be updated regularly. The database is evolving to include more
information about the users and the game play. The database is managed through the use of a front-end database
management program developed using Microsoft Visual Basic™ . The database is Microsoft SQL Server™ .
Professional SQL developers have been utilised for the development of the AusCasino site database and students
work on the AusGame database. Many of the features of the SQL database and database management system that
have been developed by the professional programmers have been migrated to the student multi-player game site. It
is hoped that the average student will have gained exposure to the web site development and the database
development prior to completing their time with the project.
Some of the students have been given the opportunity to complete tasks on the AusCasino site. Students developed
the existing slot machine and draw poker games. The two games available on the web site are constantly being
modified to incorporate new features such as improvements to security, speed of operation, game play recovery in the
case of system failure and other improvements.
Interaction With Industry
It is important to interact with industry. Success for any training activity is to make it real world and thus to be able to
interact with industry.
An example is the need for certified games for the AusCasino system. If Pacific Casino Management, the project
sponsor, is to be able to operate the Internet Casino and thereby ensuring the continuation of the project the system
must be certified. The system can be logically broken into two components. The first is the "back end" consisting of
the web servers, databases, electronic commerce and other components. The second is the games. The games
consist of two parts, the game client and the game server. The game client and game server should be designed to
interoperate with other parts of the system through software interfaces.
A game software interface specification was developed to permit third party interactive games to be "bolted" into the
system. The principle benefit of the interface specification is to provide a mechanism for gaming software suppliers to
provide certified games ready for use. An Australian Interactive Gaming supplier is working on prototypes of new
revisions of existing certified games for use with the AusCasino system.
An Example of Broadcast Interactive Internet Entertainment
A more recent activity has been a cooperative project with Company In Space. Company In Space are a Melbourne
based performing arts group who specialise in interactive performing arts. Company In Space have been the
recipients of several Australia Council grants and other research grants. This project aims to develop an interactive
Internet site for the delivery of real-time interactive performances. The interactive nature of the delivery mechanism
will permit the audience to alter a whole range of parameters associated with the performance. Some of the
parameters may be for a member of the Internet audience to increase the illumination intensity of the set, to alter the
music or to request real-time changes to choreography based on a range of alternatives. Company In Space have
carried out many performances with innovations that have been highly regarded locally and internationally. This
interaction is a welcome addition to the Internet Entertainment project.
Conclusion
Internet Entertainment is a rich and rapidly developing field of endeavour. There are a number of areas that remain
unresolved, but the inevitability of growth in this field means that both the social and technical issues must be
engaged. The RMIT University Interactive Information Institute has adopted a real-world approach to training
undergraduate and postgraduate students for the rapidly growing area of Internet Entertainment, which has (inter
alia) highlighted the benefits of using a team approach to training. Industry Interaction is a very important part of the
methodology being used and industry participation is considered to be beneficial to both parties.
References
Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik (1998), Tom Clancy’s Net Force, Headline Feature, ISBN 0747260400
Weddings http://www.theknot.com/ or http://www.weddingchannel.com/
Wigand R. (1997), "Electronic Commerce: Definition, Theory and Context", The Information Society, 13(1), 1-16.
Farrant D. (1999) Internet Snares Players, Not Payers, The Age, 2nd March.
Asimov I. (1957) The Naket Sun, Doubleday.
Ori Gurewich and Nathan Gurewich (1996), "Teach yourself Visual C++ 4 in 21 days", SAMS Publishing, ISBN
0672307952 (There are many books now that fit into this category)
Hypertext References
HREF1
http://www.iii.rmit.edu.au/
HREF2
http://www.rmit.edu.au/
HREF3
http://www.senate.gov/~kyl/cgambl.htm
HREF4
http://www.zone.com/
HREF5
http://www.women.com/
HREF6
http://info.isoc.org/guest/zakon/Internet/History/HIT.htm
HREF7
http://igcouncil.org/
HREF8
http://igcouncil.org/opinion/ngisc_1202.html
HREF9
http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/ACTS/1998/98AC014.pdf
HREF10
http://www.senate.gov/~kyl/cgambl.htm
HREF11
http://ncpgambling.org/
HREF12
http://www.nati.org/
HREF13
http://www.netnanny.com/
HREF14
http://www.auscasino.com.au/
HREF15
http://ausgame.iii.rmit.edu.au/
Copyright
Mark A Gregory, Steven Michener and Paula Swatman, © 1999. The authors assign to Southern Cross University and
other educational and non-profit institutions a non-exclusive licence to use this document for personal use and in
courses of instruction provided that the article is used in full and this copyright statement is reproduced. The authors
also grant a non-exclusive licence to Southern Cross University to publish this document in full on the World Wide
Web and on CD-ROM and in printed form with the conference papers and for the document to be published on
mirrors on the World Wide Web.
[ Proceedings ]
AusWeb99, Fifth Australian World Wide Web Conference, Southern Cross University, PO Box 157, Lismore NSW
2480, Australia Email: "AusWeb99@scu.edu.au"
... Według Havick (2000) kolejną taką rewolucją, o jeszcze większej skali było pojawienie się internetu. Jak wskazują Gregory, Michener i Swatman (1999) pojawienie się komputerów osobistych, będących pierwszymi urządzeniami zapewniającymi dostęp do sieci; było źródłem wielu późniejszych trendów w obszarze rozrywki, które dotyczyły w głównej mierze ludzi młodych. Sprawiło to, że młodsze pokolenia spędzały wolny czas w inny sposób niż ich rodzice (Gregory i in., 1999). ...
... Jak wskazują Gregory, Michener i Swatman (1999) pojawienie się komputerów osobistych, będących pierwszymi urządzeniami zapewniającymi dostęp do sieci; było źródłem wielu późniejszych trendów w obszarze rozrywki, które dotyczyły w głównej mierze ludzi młodych. Sprawiło to, że młodsze pokolenia spędzały wolny czas w inny sposób niż ich rodzice (Gregory i in., 1999). Raporty z ostatnich lat (The Digital Entertainment Group, 2019; Motion Picture Association of America, 2018) wskazują, że wraz z upływem czasu aktywności związane z czerpaniem rozrywki w coraz większym stopniu były przenoszone do domu. ...
Article
Full-text available
Electronic commerce is a relatively new concept that crept into the business vocabulary during the 1970s. A picture of electronic commerce is emerging in which the Internet will become the essential dial-tone for conducting business by the year 2000. This contribution addresses definitional, theoretical and contextual issues including the nature, drivers, enablers, and the magnitude of electronic commerce. The author discusses the role of electronic markets, the effects of information technology on electronic commerce, interactivity, and the evolution of disintermediation to reintermediation. A definition and typology of electronic commerce are offered. Theoretical and conceptual approaches to electronic commerce are advanced in terms of (1) transaction cost theory, (2) marketing, (3) diffusion, (4) information retrieval, and (5) strategic networking. Lastly, the author poses the question of how electronic commerce adds value.
Tom Clancy's Net Force, Headline Feature
  • Tom Clancy
  • Steve Pieczenik
Tom Clancy and Steve Pieczenik (1998), Tom Clancy's Net Force, Headline Feature, ISBN 0747260400 Weddings http://www.theknot.com/ or http://www.weddingchannel.com/
Internet Snares Players, Not Payers, The Age
  • D Farrant
Farrant D. (1999) Internet Snares Players, Not Payers, The Age, 2nd March.
Teach yourself Visual C++ 4 in 21 days
  • Ori Gurewich
  • Nathan Gurewich
Ori Gurewich and Nathan Gurewich (1996), "Teach yourself Visual C++ 4 in 21 days", SAMS Publishing, ISBN 0672307952 (There are many books now that fit into this category)