Monthly Archives: October 2005
Digital Memories & Amnesia
In a web of hyperlinks and google searches, it is hard to remember what you saw and where. The talk of (cyber)footprints, security features that allows one to trace the steps of a user in cyberspace interests me, but tell me – how do I find that great site i stumbled across through links, windows and IM’s months ago.
As I often do when I lose something, I try to retrace my steps… walk around my apartment and slowly…silently talk to myself through from the moment i walked in the house and put my keys down right through to the moment that I sat down to watch television… How much harder is it to retrace my steps online … months later? Fragments of images remain in my mind… if i close my eyes, i can see the white background, remember what the text was saying .. but for the life of me, I cannot remember how i got there…
And so, in a space where i spend over 1o hours a day, everyday… links, pages and games – my memory is so overloaded with images and memories that it drives me to a sort of navigational amnesia.
Acronyms in [cyber]Space
Over the last 3 years that I have been working on research surrounding game studies and identity, the shift in acronyms – much like definitional terms in the field – have been confusing at best. After a good coffee and chat with a friend, this is where acronyms stand…
When i started writting, the acronym MMORPG was used (massively multi-user online role playing games). Although a mouthful to say when presenting, it covered the four corners of what games like EQ, WoW and Lineage II were…
Then one day when I wasnt looking, I noticed that people were using MMOG (massively multi-user online games) to discuss the same lot of games… a tad perplexing when you consider what other genres could potentially fall under that acronym.
Places like Second Life, There.com et. al were (and are) being called VW (virtual worlds). But Mike asked me if they were called MMOE’s (massively multi-user online environments. This got me thinking about the use of differentiating descriptives to talk about online spaces. If we call player versus player combat in an MMO (shortened again for convenience – which is often done ..) PvP, and player versus environment (static monsters) is called PvE.. so why not call VW’s MMOE’s? Is the issue not with the E but with the MM? A question of linguistic nuance I suppose…
I promised Mike i wouldnt think this out too much, but as one can already see, once it starts rolling ….
Call for Papers
Human Systems – Digital Bodies
The International Digital Media and Arts Association and the Miami University Center for Interactive Media Studies partner to present CODE – an examination of the many codes that drive the digital media and arts world. This is an expanded program from previous iDMMa or IMS conferences and it will be held on the beautiful campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Pre-conference, hands-on workshops (free for iDMAa members) will begin on April 5, 2006. The conference takes place on April 6–8, 2006.
CFP: Digital Humanities Quarterly
Submissions are invited for Digital Humanities Quarterly, a new open-access peer-reviewed journal sponsored by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations and the Association for Computers and the Humanities.
We welcome material on all aspects of digital media in the humanities, including humanities computing, new media, digital libraries, game studies, digital editing, pedagogy, hypertext and hypermedia, computational linguistics, markup theory, and related fields.
In particular, we are interested in submissions in the following categories:
*Articles representing original research in digital humanities
*Editorials and opinion pieces on any aspect of digital humanities
*Reviews of web resources, books, software tools, digital publications, and other relevant materials
*Interactive media works including digital art, hypertext literature, criticism, and interactive experiments. A separate call for submissions is also being issued for this area.
If you are interested in game studies (and if you read this space at all, chances are that you are), there are a few events coming up that are worth taking time out to attend:
Where the Boys Play: Video Games, Nostalgia and the so-called Other Spaces of Childhood
Shanly Dixon, Humanties Program, Concordia
Bart Simon, Sociology & Anthropology, Concordia
Friday October 28
4-6pm Rm 1120
(11th floor of the Hall building at Concordia University)
Montreal Game Summit
Mount Royal Center
Nov. 4, 5, 6
The Arcademic Zone is the place to be for learning and training in the realm of the video game industry. Educational institutions, as well as professionals in the field, will be in attendance to share their knowledge with the general public, providing a unique insight into the vast reaches of the gaming universe.
Kuhn, Paradigms & Game Studies
Another course material inspired post – we have been talking about Thomas S. Kuhn’s work on The Structure of Scientific Revolution. A VERY simplified understanding (filtered through my brain that is) is that the transition to science is embodied in the concepts of paradigms. That is to say, that in pre-paradigmic science, the research was fragmented, as there was no unitary paradigm (in terms of method etc.) that all research followed. Essentially, scientific research occured in bubbles, that did not associate or interact with other bubbles of science doing potentially, the same research.
This got me to thinking about Game Studies. As mentioned earlier, the debate within the field surrounds the multi-disciplinatiry of the field. That at times, some of what is written is redundant or so wrapped up in the field of origin’s language (Lit. Studies, Film Studies, Sociology etc. etc) that the overall goal of creating a mass body of knowledge under the umbrella of Game Studies is lost … essentially – there is no paradigm – no ‘methodological (and other elemental) structure to the field. No rules of research, no meta-question that the entire field is aiming to solve .. together as a unified field …
And i do have one ..
Is that from what I understand is the problem (if one finds the interdisciplinarity of Game Studies a problem) is that there is no “paradigm” that is Game Studies – it is a field (which i am still confused as to the difference – no fault of my professor’s attempts of clarification). Game Studies is a field of study in terms of looking at a particular topic (video games) through any lens that works in order to explore the multiplicity of the topic….if this is to be the case, then the goal of creating a theoretical framework that speaks directly to and only of Game Studies (as some of my work on defining identity in mmog’s does) is potentially a moot point …
guess i need to think more about this …
Trick or Treat
For those of us who are too old to trick or treat (aside from bringing our kids out) World of Warcraft has decked themselves out in Hallowe’en decorations and a special trick or treat quest in today’s patch.
Head to Ogrimmar, and visit the orphanage in the valley of strength – its quite a fun little quest with a decent reward.
Radio without Borders
I was re-reading the history section on my favorite radio station woxy.com and thought of the Keane lecture I went to yesterday…
A step in the right direction?
On July 16th, after a few months of sorting out paperwork and buying new equipment, 97X signed on once again and began a new life as possibly the first terrestrial radio station to make the move to an Internet-only entity.
Democracy across Borders
Enjoyed a fascinating lecture today by John Keane, on Journalism and Democracy Across Borders. The lecture combined a historical perspective of the role of journalism in politics and democracy, and the future ahead in a ‘globally’ connected world. With bells ringing of Lawrence Lessig, with pleas for serious attention to who has the power to make the changes necessary for the tchnology to play a positive role in the flow of information. The lecture iterated the current state of the debate, while bringing to attention the need for reform to the current political structures that takes into consideration the new flow of information.
Surely, I am not doing much justice to the 40 minute articulate presentation, but it has prompted me to look more into this topic. As something that has been dabbled in here and there with my game studies, and political science stint, Keane has an established collection of books well worth the read.
Mutli-Disciplinarity or Fragmented Community
The debate that has been occuring in the field of game studies since perhaps its beginning, the question has become a personal one over the last few months. A recent conversation with a colleague has brought to my attention, the problem that the multi-discplinarity of game studies faces. I am, by departmental affiliation, a sociologist. My colleague is working in semiotics. I have successfully meshed theoretical frameworks from both disciplines in the past with another colleague. Yet, this time around, the critique of my work stemmed not from my ideas, but my methodological presentation. For my colleague, who is used to a different arguement structure, felt that my paper was weak for the structure I had used (a common sociological presentation). I am not complaining that my paper was critiqued, and I must agree that since my paper was eventually to be reviewed by an IT department, my colleagues comments were potentially on target.
This got me thinking about the field of game studies. Since it is still compiled of members from other disciplines – design, cinema, literature, communications, sociology, psychology and the list is probably as long as the list of academic disciplines, there is no unified lens with which to judge work coming into the field. When I submitted a paper for a past conference, one of the reviewers came from a design discipline. Although they found the topic interesting, they admitted to having had to read it more then once to get through the jargon. And I thought I was being quite general when I wrote it.
Another problem it causes is the ‘working in a bubble’ feeling that was brought up recently by another colleague. Knowing full well that my research and the theory that frames it comes out of my discipline, I sometimes get the feeling that someone, somewhere, has said the same thing using a different theoretical framework from another discipline. In this case, I admit to often feeling that game studies is merely a fragmented umbrella discipline like the “liberal arts”, encompassing many other disciplines to talk about one topic from many different perspectives.
So, the question I am faced with is: Can there ever be such thing as a true field of game studies? A discipline that eventually has its own theoretical cannons that strongly stand alone beyond any other discipline? Or is it doomed to remain an umbrella?