What if everything you did online was part of a game? A company named Gamelayers is built on the idea of a PMOG, Passively Multiplayer Online Game. The idea is that everything you do while surfing earns experience points, and the play experience seamless overlays your online life. I was struck by this idea of the internet as a connected ludoverse, so I talked to Merci Victoria Grace, Chief Creative Officer/Lead Game Designer of Gamelayers. The other principal is ur-blogger Justin Hall who, full disclosure, once put me up in his converted garage for three months.

In Merci's words:

PMOG is an asynchronous, peripheral game that transforms the Firefox browser into an MMO head up display and invites the player to engage in warfare, socializing, and annotation on the world wide web through html.


OK, but what does that mean for you, the game-player? We interviewed Merci to get the downlow.

Is PMOG the future? Is the Internet going to become a vast multiplayer game?

The internet is already a vast multiplayer game, PMOG just makes that obvious and tangible. There are player types (Wikipedia nannies versus forum griefers), there's social cuing based on a the presentation of self online (avatars, profiles on social networking sites), When I designed PMOG I approached the problem of making an MMO in a browser by first realizing that the internet is already a place. It's an environment with its own architecture, languages, and customs. The gameplay and story flowed from that decision.

What kind of story did you devise to overlay/explain/narratize the internet in PMOG? It looks pretty steampunk - is that the genre? Any plans to evolve the story over time?

When I began designing PMOG, I started with the environment of the internet. It struck me that the internet is this kind of awful urban sprawl. Buildings (websites) go up in a matter of days with no building codes or aesthetic oversight. There's no organizing principle apart from the most basic rules of the world - html operates like gravity. If it loads, I guess it's okay. There is no government building roads and schools, keeping the streets lit at night, putting on parades, or punishing criminals. But despite this lawlessness there are some highly functioning and beautiful structures, there's magic and technology living side-by-side. That concert of magic and tech speaks well through steampunk. Additionally, I took a lot of Victorian literature in college. And aesthetically, I'm tired of everything being fantasy or flat anime-esque children. Over the course of the time that PMOG runs I'll continue to develop the story and the world, eventually adding non-player characters and more advanced interactions.


You can sign up for the PMOG beta. If you were PMOGing, you would already have earned experience for reading this post.