The Nethernet (previously known as PMOG, the Passively Multiplayer Online Game) was an online game in which players "passively" participated in while browsing web pages. Players earn data points by taking missions, which they can spend on various game items that could be attached to web pages to trigger events when another player next visited that page.
The game was launched as PMOG in 2007 and underwent changes in 2009 to be rebranded as the Nethernet, although this was not completely successful and the game was shut down from August until coming back online in December 31st of that year. In its last iteration, the game would be online for some time, until it was finally shut down an unknown time after that.
One of the founding creators of The Nethernet was Justin Hall. In 2007, as a graduate student in USC's Interactive Media Division program, he developed the game concept as part of his masters thesis. The game led to the formation of GameLayers, Inc. with Nethernet co-creators Duncan Gough, and Merci Victoria Grace. A very early public version of the game was created with support from Alice Taylor and Phil Gyford. The game had an alpha release on February 5, 2007, with initial funding coming from the BBC, who were interested in exploring the potential for passive online gaming to teach web literacy. In May 2007, the game had 700 users.
The premise of The Nethernet came from the fact that internet users spend a large portion of their time multitasking, browsing information, or contacting other people online. The Nethernet aimed to classify and allocate an individual’s internet use and then utilize the gathered information in a unique and playful manner.
The Nethernet was originally an in-browser toolbar that compensated users as they browsed the World Wide Web. The game evolved as a heads-up display overlay in the Firefox web browser. The design of the HUD and its interface allowed users to play with one another via the World Wide Web. In addition, it allowed players to create information quests, complete missions created by other users, place "mines" throughout the web to trip up other users, and place and follow "portals" to other websites.
By engaging through features of the HUD and through increased web browsing, players lose or gain data points. Data points allow users to buy different types of tools which can enhance the previously mentioned features of the HUD. In addition, accumulated data points allow users to select a character type. In total, there are six characters: three fall under the category of "Chaotic", whose roles are to place numerous mines, vengeance weapons which prevent mine use, called "St. Nicks", and create portals. The other three abide by the "Torch of Order" and concentrate on protecting other users and providing them useful information through missions, also known as "quests".
Nethernet players can also collect achievement badges from the missions they completed, the manner in which they utilized their tools, or the web sites they visited.
- "The Return of The Nethernet". Gamelayers, Inc. 2009-12-31. Archived from the original on 2010-01-03. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- "2009 Awards Category Details Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year". Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 18 November 2023.
- Irwin, Mary Jane (2008-02-25). "A New Type of Game Turns Web Surfing Into All-Out Information Warfare". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 2015-07-29.
- "First Draft Extension Posted". The Nethernet Community News. February 5, 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-07-16. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- "PMOG is now The Nethernet". The Nethernet Community News. March 1, 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2009-03-02.
- "The Nethernet Moving Forward". nethernet.com. 2009-08-17. Archived from the original on 2009-08-24. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "The Nethernet is Back Online!". The Nethernet Community News. 2009-12-31. Archived from the original on 2010-01-16. Retrieved 2010-01-01.
- Hall, Justin (2007). "Games: Passively Multiplayer Online Game". USC Interactive Media. Archived from the original on 2008-04-15. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- Hall, Jason (2008-02-03). "Playing PMOG - Again". just in teractive. Archived from the original on 2008-04-19. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- Arrington, Michael (2008-02-02). "Play A Multiplayer Online Game While Surfing The Web: PMOG". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- Official site of The Nethernet
- Retelling of the story of GameLayers and the Nethernet by Justin Hall
- PMOG Intro Cutscene (Blip.TV video with backstory to the original PMOG game)
- DejaVu Development TRAC[permanent dead link]
- Justin Hall's Masters' thesis defense (video from February 20, 2007)
- Game Design for PMOG[permanent dead link] by Merci Hammon
- TheNethernet API by Duncan Gough