mamamusings: October 18, 2003

elizabeth lane lawley's thoughts on technology, academia, family, and tangential topics

Saturday, 18 October 2003

aoir: "network formations: producing and consuming online games"

Jason Rhody, a talk called: /Em Speaks, Or Textual Practices, Online Communication, And Asheron’s Call

Game studies is going through a legitimization process, including a controlling vocabulary (other things, too, which I missed).

How have games established a sense of agency within the virtual world, while maintaining a controlled environment. Persistence is a key component, a sense of history.

How have players taken an active role in shaping Asherons Call?

Games are social practices; online games operate within a physical and computational environment as well.

Shows screen shot from Asheron’s Call. Notes the amount of textual information still provided. Expandable chat window at the bottom, which shows status and activity as well. “Emote” function, some of which are programmed— eg surrender, teapot. Also simple text-based emotes (which appear to work much like the /me command in IRC).

“I can want to jump, but desire and action only meet when programmed.”

Non-programmed emotes demonstrate for players the limits of their control.

Lots of discussion of interface components, focusing on user-developed tools (plug-ins) for visual display. Various pop-up windows, navigational tools. Can “hack” the data flow, reinterpret and enhance it.

Players have been able to “penetrate the narrative” in this way.

In game studies, “narrative” is a touchy concept. One side is more traditional (narratologist), draws from other media types. Ludologists argue that games are not narratives, that they are unlike other narrative forms. e.g. “Tetris can’t be compared to War and Peace”

Historical context for gaming is important. While games may not be narratives per se, but they can contain narratives. So Tetris may not be a narrative, but Asheron’s Call certainly contains narrative.

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more like this: conferences

aoir: "digital divide: opportunities and challenges"

Dianne Looker (Dalhousie): The Internet And The Gender Digital Divide

Canadian study on Internet use. They looked at 15-year-old boys and girls enrolled in school.

Findings from YITS/PISA

90% of boys and girls have any access. Slightly more boys have computer at home, slightly more boys have internet connections at home.

Types of use of computer is related to home access. For those with no home access, boy and girl patterns are more similar. For those with homea ccess, there is more divergence, with boys using the computer more and for a wider variety of activities.

Males much more likely to say they use the computer out o personal interest; girls much more likely to say they use it for school/study needs.


Found that it’s not that high achievers use IT more…access isn’t correlated with school success or involvement.

(In a response to a questioner, the Pew researcher noted that girls are using IM more than boys, but most other activities are more boys than girls. It is in the teenage life online report on the Pew web site.)

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more like this: conferences

partying in accordion city

Yes, the conference is great, and I’m learning a lot, and it’s good to be back in the academic swing of things. But I have to say that the highlight of the conference thus far was going out on the town with Kathleen Fitzpatrick of Planned Obsolescence, and Joey deVilla, Toronto’s infamous “Accordion Guy.”

We dined at Smokeless Joe’s, on chowder for them (and when they say a big bowl of chowder, the mean a big bowl of chowder) and pesto pasta for me—with beer to wash it all down, natch. Then we embarked on a tour of Accordion City. (Kathleen has a great post about the tour, and Joey is promising more details soon on “lizapalooza”.)

We wandered past the Rivoli, home of Sunday Night Kickass Karaoke, and setting for Joey’s recent “ground rules” post. Then we stopped for drinks and conversation at the infamous Tequila Sunrise (which will be recognized immediately by regular readers of Joey’s as the spot where Joey met “The Waitress,” his co-star in the Worst Date Ever series of posts). Kathleen headed back to her hotel at that point, and Joey and I headed to the Bovine Sex Club. (Yes, that’s really its name. Joey says the back of their t-shirts reads: “Pet me, milk me, kill me, eat me.”) Happily, I had worn black clothes, so I didn’t stand out too much—it’s a pretty goth sort of place. And loud. Very loud.

We sat and talked there for quite some time. Much of the time I was trying to avoid looking at the video monitors behind the bar, which were showing a variety of disturbing images, featuring plenty of blood-caked clothing and cruel and unusual mistreatment of characters. It was like an ongoing visual trainwreck—I didn’t want to watch, but kept finding my eyes pulled towards the images.) Despite the distractions (did I mention that it was loud?), we had a nice chat. We walked back to my hotel (quite a distance, but it was a nice night for a walk, particularly given the amount of anti-freeze I’d poured into my system at that point), and said good night.

You will notice, however, that there was no accordion playing whatsoever during the evening. <sigh> That means, of course, that I will have to kidnap Weez one weekend soon (maybe November?) and come back up for an encore, this time with accompaniment.

Tonight I’m going to have a quieter night. I opted not to pay the $50 for the conference dinner, and instead will get takout food, bring it back to my hotel, and spend a few hours working on the powerpoint-for-pay that’s going to pay my way to Tokyo in February.

Update, 10:20pm
Okay, I lied. I went to the conference dinner, because somebody gave me a free ticket. The food was good, but the company (Jason, Kathleen, D., and Irina) was better.

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more like this: friends
Liz sipping melange at Cafe Central in Vienna