ac2.jpg Clive Thompson's latest Wired News game article deals with what happens when MMO populations go away, in this case preceding the closing of Turbine's PC MMO Asheron's Call 2 on December 30, and it's... eerie. "'Anybody out there?' I type, but I already know it's pointless. There's nobody anywhere near me. For almost an hour, I've been wandering around a desolate plain: Gray clouds scud slowly over rough quartz mountains, while a few birds wheel in the air near mushroom-shaped trees. I never see another living soul. It feels like the end of the world."

This Murakami-esque dreamworld has human fall-out, too: "'It's really heart-wrenching. How will you connect with those people you spent every single day with? It's as though someone suddenly took away all e-mail,' as one player who calls herself "Ellen Ripley" online told me. 'Suddenly they seem nameless and ethereal, where once they were as real and important as our families, co-workers and Earth-realm friends.'"