Some might call it the original "Second Life"…

About 3 years ago I encountered a free online “game” called Cantr.

It’s an interesting concept, almost like “Second Life” only entirely text based. Like Second Life, it’s not really a game but more a MMORPG (Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game).

Over the years they’ve developed some very sophisticated processes and systems to manage the world’s animal population, disease, farming and even manufacturing. It’s actually quite amazing once you start digging in and realize that the game has essentially been created from scratch by a group of volunteer developers.

I’ve never been a huge RPG kind of person but while I was playing found it quite entertaining and an interesting outlet. I personally just plain ran out of time about a year ago (between a startup and a new baby time gets pretty valuable) and admittedly it was a bit of a sad day to get the “death notices” via email as my various characters died or were killed off by animals etc.

I still check in on it from time to time as I find the statistics portion really interesting and there’s a couple of things that triggered with me recently and I thought it deserved a post.

1. Deleted from Wikipedia too
As I posted about XPLANE getting deleted from Wikipedia the other day it turns out Cantr was also removed from the Wikipedia site a couple of months ago.

I’m in the process right now of belatedly working my way through “The Long Tail“, by Chris An. One of the examples he cites over and over again is Wikipedia and how, compared to the Encyclopedia Britannica etc., it has an almost unlimited storage capacity. Yet here’s two cases of what I would call classic “Long Tail” topics and they’ve been removed from the “limitless” encyclopedia because someone else felt they weren’t notable. Arguably Cantr’s “notability” isn’t on the level of XPLANE but it is still an site that has been around for several years now and has had several thousand people participate in it and help grow it. In it’s almost 5 year run it’s actually grown into quite an interesting social experiment.

Like XPLANE it’s my understanding that the Cantr folks expressed interest in helping bring the entry more in line with Wikipedia guidelines (i.e. neutral writing etc.) but they were also removed before much, if anything could be revised.

Obviously what I had for breakfast doesn’t need an entry in Wikipedia but from what I’m starting to see I’m wondering if they’re still setting the bar a little high for what qualifies as an appropriate entry.

2. Broadly Localized
At last count the game had been localized into 15 languages.

The interesting twist with Cantr is you pick the language your character speaks when you create them. Within the game the different languages all “spawn” (enter the “world”) where ever there is a concentration of other players in that language but everyone is placed within the same world, although at times in vastly different geographic regions.

Once in that language the rule is the characters must communicate in that language. Around the time I stopped playing it appeared a contingent of players form the French areas had started to encounter the Swedes. There was talk about how challenging it became for the two groups to communicate and they actually started role playing the process of teaching each other basics of their languages.

Like the programming the localization has all been done by volunteers and as a critical mass of players begins to express interest in playing in a specific language the admins are typically more than happy to bring it online.

Certainly another very interesting dimension to an already deep deep “game”.

If it sounds like something you might be interested in by all means drop by www.cantr.net, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. They’re always looking for players and best of all – it’s free.

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  • Jos Elkink

    You’re linking in the end to a site about cancer treatment ;)

  • Ryan

    Oops – thanks Jos!

    Hope all is well in the Cantr universe. :)