Playing: Skyrates

is a web-browser based game that plays out in real-time and is designed to be something that you pop in and out of during the day - somewhat like email checking - rather than immersing yourself in.

It works somewhat how I imagine World of Warcraft works (never played it to be honest, just not that interested in fantasy characters) - with quests, earning money, trade, fights and undertaking missions. It's more single player although there is in game chat and I think (but I'm not sure) that you can fight other players.

You can find out more about the ins and outs of the game in the Flight Manual and there was also a very interesting game design post mortem on the GameCareerGuide.com website.

That's my avatar up the top there - I'd normally go with a cat but for some reason the boar just seemed more appealing this time around. (Maybe because I was born in the year of the Pig)

Here you have my plane - it's early days yet so it's a little primitive but I've been able to whizz around the sky and fight off a fair few thieves so far. The idea of levelling up as a motivator in games like these is kind of interesting - it keeps you engaged, as you are rewarded for your time/work and it also gives you little praise/success hits as you go. Is it just propaganda designed to keep us happily plugging away as little worker elves or is this just a consequence of the system we find ourselves in?

(Personally I'm happy for people to be rewarded for achievement, hard work and good ideas but I would like to see some other models used occasionally in games for success)

The style of the game is quaintly cartoony, a quick trip through the tutorial is enough to get you going and it seems as though the people chatting on the radio are relatively friendly and helpful (though I haven't said hi yet)

The gameplay itself is pretty enjoyable and you can plot out a series of trips (which occur in real time - roughly an hour per flight) and subsequent trades and refuels which can then just run in the background on your web browser.

Hope to see you there :)