Monthly Archives: September 2004
How un-feminist of me
The tides of internal struggle between wanting to push forward and read everything out there ever written (…well, as far as my interest would carry me) and the internal desire to stay at home, and raise my children while being supported handsomely by my everloving mate for life – well, its a struggle that rears it’s ugly head in times of stress and self-doubt. For all the anti-feminist feelings i have been feeling, i can’t help but think that at some point, i am not allowed to want to be a stay at home mom/wife. In all the struggle for equality, we have lost sight that, while perhaps it is a conditioned state of feminity, it is one that i sometimes yearn for. Indeed, it is probably a case of greener grass, and knowing me, i would have to be commited after a short period of time from boredom … i still find myself wanting the best of both worlds; an active academic life and a healthy homelife. But for now, it seems that it is always one or the other.
Just Fun & Games?
A friend sent me this link today. Serious games are a growing part of the video game industry, definitely something worth looking at.
The following is their purpose statement:
The goal of this site is to catalog the growing number of video and
games whose primary purpose is something other than to entertain. These
also known as “serious games.”
“Game” (i.e. video and computer) has
become a language –i.e. a medium of expression — in which almost any idea
be, and is being, expressed. It is our intention to help document this
phenomenon and list, so that:
People who want to locate Social
can find them, and
People who want to create Social Impact
Games can see
what others have done.
A Great Day for Radio
Earlier this summer, I had posted about an online radio station that i LOVED going off the air (online). Well, scrolling through my list of available stations today via Media Player, it seems that they have been able to get some funding and are back online! =)
I am a happy girl!
Natural versus artificial fear?
I’m taking a course this semester on the Sociology of Fear and Risk. To start the framing for that topic later in the semester, I’m currently learning about the constructionist argument for the role of emotionin individuals and society. If I attempt to boil down the entire argument to a few sentences, I guess it becomes an argument that emotions are not necessarily purely natural. Instead, emotions have sociocultural roots, in that individuals within a given community are taught what emotions are supposed to be within that society, as well as what emotions are expected to be felt and displayed in certain situations (i.e. prescribed). Additionally, the individual can expect to be punished if their emotional expressions don’t fall within the allowable guidelines for the society of which they are a part.
This got me thinking ahead to what applications this constructionist argument might have on the concentrated topic of fear and risk in modern society. Note that my thinking here is preliminary, exploratory, nascent.
As Westerners, we live in a world that is, actually, free of natural fears of yore. The urban homeless populations notwithstanding, few people in the Western world today fear hunger, loss of home, loss of spouse or children or indeed their own life in any significant way.
In the past, we could assume that the fear of death coupled with the need to often bring death to other living creatures brought about a certain familiarity and conversely a certain respect with it towards death. The same could be said of life, both plant life and the life of the various birds, mammals, fish and so on. We gathered our food from the land and hunted the land for its natural occupants. A respect for our natural co-existence was natural. Even later, when we became farmers and we bent the land to our will to grow our crops, we still developed a respect for the crops and for the weather and natural forces that could so easily destroy them. Disease was common, so it was normal to lose a child early in its life, or lose a spouse to accidents, childbirth, or illness. We also feared the loss of our culture and so we banded together with others who were likeminded, as kin or clan or tribe or village. We took an active role in the functioning of the community and as a result we had an active participation in each other’s lives. We went to war together against anything or anyone who threatened our way of life. We protected each other and were, in turn, protected. We were connected to one another and to all of life around us. We trusted and loved and lived and died in a time in which these fears loomed large. Fear was therefore omnipresent and very functional to our lives.
So what could be the impact then of our western way of life today, in which these same fears are minimized or eliminated totally? We now live in a world in which our food is purchased pre-slaughtered at the various uniform locations of a supermarket chain. We live in a world in which we know that modern medicine will be able to prevent a large number of formerly deadly diseases, or cure us of those we might develop. We live in a world in which the last two generations have grown up and are growing up with no expectation to have to ever go to war against other human beings, in which we do not ever need to kill another entity. Thus, we live in a world in which we can expect our children to grow to see an entire century of life. We ourselves have the concrete and plausible hope for the same.
We live in a world in which we buy our homes pre-made for us, our clothes pre-sewn, our food pre-killed, our society managed for us by people unknown to us personally who live in cities and communities far away from our daily realm, who participate in processes in which we have only a titular ceremonial part, if any. We are no longer connected to the former process of living.
My exploratory argument here is not about the glorification of the days of yore. Rather, what I am trying to explore is whether or not the fear and risk that were rampant in the more primitive days served a function. And in the absence today of the situations of old in which it loomed large, what is the role today of fear and risk? If these fears no longer exist at a level strong enough to govern and guide us as they did, what is the role today in society for fear? How do our governments exploit it to control us or to exercise power? How do we manufacture it and why? How do we teach fear to our children today and in what situations?
The answers to this are what I expect to ponder throughout the rest of this semester. The answers will, I believe, be enlightening. Whether it be to explain why we love roller coasters, why we participate in extreme sports, why we worry about computer viruses or sexual diseases, why we manufacture fear…these are the things I will be pondering this semester in this course.
Thursdays seem to be my longest days of the week. Luckily, the weekends are never too far =)
Today was the first session meeting of gameCODE. After a summer hiatus, this meeting was essentially to introduce new faces and to bring people up to date with what others have been doing over the summer; both paid Research Assistant work and non paid work wise.
A day for meetings, tonight, my professor Bart Simon gave a speech at the IGDA on Goffman and digital games. I am always in awe when i hear him speak; and my head usually hurts when he is done, but as he put it ‘he is that kind of head hurting professor’. Wouldnt want him any other way. The gist of the talk was that the game is essentially all that surrounds the game itself. The conversation, the interaction, the interuption etc., all that surrounds the activity of the game is what creates the gaming ‘encounter’ and not necessairly the game itself. He does the topic much more justice then I am, but that is the bare bones of it.
Clint Hocking also spoke this evening (Splinter Cell) about the implementation of non consequential ethical decisions within video games. I emphasize non-consequential because i think (or rather agree with Clint in) that in order for an ethical decision to be truly about the player as far as self discovery and exploration, there cannot be any positive or negative association with the choice made in these instances. I also liked the idea (although not a new one, an important one nonetheless) that inaction is in of itself a decision.
This was the first meeting (and I’ve been to 4 now i think) that i actually got to talk to a Level Designer working at UbiSoft, with past experience with Lucas (entertainment?) – and edutainment division of LucasArts if i remember correctly. It was interesting to talk to someone a little more techinical…then us … sociologists.
All in all, it has been a really full day, with my mind wandering all over the place with ideas.
Hopefully i can put them all down in some tangible form before i get to bed.
Just a few months ago, Alen and I had stumbled into the world of Istaria, feeling quite elated that we had found a new MMO that we could enjoy together. Since we were no longer able to sustain our playing hours (or interest in Alen’s case) with EverQuest, the play style and tradeskill system in Horizons was a blessing.
Unfortunately, it seems that not everyone felt as happy as we did, since recently Artifact Entertainment had to file a Chapter 11. In other words – bankruptcy protection. Sadly, they have merged their shards and tried to keep their existing customer base happy, but as a friend said tonight – when a company has to worry about sustaining their world, chances are likely that they do not have the time or resources to be adding content… which in the world of MMO’s, is what it’s all about.
So, it seems it is only a matter of time that Horizons will be added to the list of failed MMO’s.
[i'm a tad late in the news - official press release was dated in July]
After a long and stressfull battle with university administration, i have been accepted into the Honour’s program. Although i did not fit the academic standards of an honour’s student, i am being rewarded for determination.
Over the years, i had come to terms with the fact that i would rather struggle through a challenging class and come out with a mediocre grade giving something all my effort and learning something. When the idea of an honour’s degree was introduced to me, there was some speculation as to whether i should continue on that difficult path. I had had many conversations debating my academic integrity and decided that i would not change my path.
Encouraged nonetheless by supportive faculty, letters of recommendation and many… many… phone calls later, i am finally admitted into the honour’s program on my terms (so to speak…i do have probationary conditions, but those i can live by!).
I am extremely happy – and this will make the Master’s application a bit easier =)
Guess it’s time to buckle down and show the administration that you can’t judge a person by their gpa.
First Day of School
And my head hurts already! It was relatively uneventful since the professors figure people are still ‘shopping’ for classes, they don’t often jump right into the lecture. This fall semester might be an interesting one all things considered. With a course on occupations & identity – hoping that this will tie some theory into stuff i am currently working on in the game studies field on roles/tasks + work/social responsibilities in MMORPG’s. Also taking a course on mass media – critical theory .. could be interesting – the reading list looks it at least =)
What else, a sociology of digital games course … an independent reading course that i have been working on since the summer – there is lots to read, and a heavy paper to write when its all said and done – but at least there is no class time. Have a research design and analysis course that i have to take – if anything else, it will be useful for a lifetime of research and academia =)
And the tug ‘o war between honours seminar (if they ever make up their minds and accept me … or not.. into the damn program) and sociology of knowledge (which i was dying to take!!) if i dont get into the honours program.
So, all in all, coupled with gameCODE and my independent work in game studies, it looks like a full final year. Will try to keep this space updated with some regularity now that school has forced me to keep a routine.