Category Archives: Personal
So many of my friends have abandoned cable television (or satellite) for view-on-demand platforms like Netflix or Hulu (if you are lucky enough to live in the US). I admit to having enjoyed the convenience of Netflix (even if there offerings here in Canada are quite dated), I cannot argue with the pleasure of being able to watch an entire season of a favorite show in one sitting. But I don’t think I would ever want to completely convert my television viewing to an on-demand system. Besides the lack of options, if I am not set on a specific show or movie, I have a hard time figuring out what I want to watch when browsing through the menu. After spending hours on itunes looking to rent a movie or two for a recent 32 hour train trip (16 hours each way) I was hard pressed to find much even after a hundred recommendations from friends and colleagues, I settled on 4 titles that I admit to being happy with in the end. But that is not saying much in terms of the hundreds of options I had to choose from.
While it is nice to watch what you want when you want it, what I like most about cable television is the ability to simply flip through channels, pausing on something that catches your eye, watching for a few minutes, waiting to see if you get sucked in. I am the first to admit that more times than not, I am irritated at how much I pay for the channels that I have and so many times am disappointed that nothing is on when I want to watch television. But I would not trade my cable bill for the serendipitous moments of viewing bliss. Movies that I would never actively choose to watch (or pay for) playing on late night television end up being a lot better than I would have imagined (or perhaps it simply entertained me to the right degree for that moment in time….). For example, it was around midnight a few weeks back, and I was not tired, didn’t want to read or work, so I flipped through the channels and stumbled on the 1993 Tom Cruise film The Firm. I don’t much care for Tom Cruise, and I have never read a John Grisholm novel – needless to say – it was not a film I would have ever chosen to watch if I had to pick it out of a menu. But I must admit – I really enjoyed it. Or just the other night, everyone had gone to bed, and I turned the television on thinking I would watch some Home and Garden Television (my favorite channel along with the Food Network) for mindless background television, and I stumbled upon a new documentary on the Bones Brigade (skateboarding team from back when…). While I know that I would have chosen that one on my own – but stumbling upon it made it that much sweeter to watch.
Beyond the sense of serendipity I feel when I flip through and land on something I never thought I would enjoy watching, or stumble on a documentary I never knew existed, I also enjoy plotting out my work & life schedule around the time slots of my favorite shows. While it would be nice at times to be able to watch them all at once when I have a lazy Saturday ahead, I like that the shows are paced for me. I enjoy the anticipation you feel when you are forced to wait until next week to see what happens. I like to use them as rewards – knowing that my show comes on at 8pm, hustling to get my work done before then. Of course, I could do the same thing with on-demand viewing, but I am nowhere near as disciplined to wait – and not having a choice of when I can view it makes it feel that much more special (at least to me). Perhaps I am the odd one among my friends, but I still enjoy my cable television =)
[A nod to my friend Nikki Porter, PhD, and her poignant dissertation "Isn't it about time? American television networks in the face of temporal and institutional challenges 1970-1985" ]
2013. Wow. My blog is 9 years old this month! Some years blogging more than others – but still here. One of my resolutions for this year is to blog more. So, here we go!
Another year, another bunch of resolutions … of course, the usual suspects are on the list; eat better, drink less, work out more… I have a 2013 East Coast season pass for the Spartan Races. Aiming to complete all three distances to earn my Trifecta medal… will let you know how that turns out (races are in May, June & July).
But I also want to feed my brain more in 2013. 2012 was great in that I got to spend the majority of it focusing on my research. Most of my intellectual energy went towards getting my own thoughts and ideas out of my head and articulated out on (the proverbial) paper. But I didn’t get to read much for my own intellectual curiosity. I have bought books over the last year that have been gathering dust. On the top of that pile:
- How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis: N. Katherine Hayles. Just started this one a few days ago – loving it so far. Hayles is one of my favorite people to read. Her writing is very readable, and her ideas always thought provoking.
- The Parallax View: Slavoj Zizek. Another one of my favorite thinkers, will read most anything he writes. But there are a few ideas in this one that has made me think about the concept of hybrid-identity… perhaps reading it through will help me articulate a few points that have been bugging me…(on a completely random note, I was so happy to hear that my daughter got to read Zizek in one first year last year [Foundation Year Programme] at University of King’s College - they had such a great reading list!!)
- Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture: Lisa Gitelman. Haven’t read anything by her, but the write-up peaked my interest. I have been wanting to reopen the scope of my reading – the last year spent so focused on game studies and identity literature. I missed reading about the broader aspects of media, culture and technology that I loved so much in my undergrad years.
I have many many more books to read (thanks to a very great friend who donated a large portion of her game / media studies collection to me near the end of last year) – too many to list – but if I can read at least half of them, I would be happy. Besides reading, my goal is to blog about what I am reading – either synopsis’, thoughts they’ve provoked, etc. etc.
I also hope to play more. Videogames, board games, My video game playing has become all but non-existent over the last year or so. I hate to admit it – but not much on the mass market has been appealing to me. Might be time to dig a little deeper than triple A titles and “best of” lists… Any suggestions (ipad, Xbox 360, PS3 & PC) are more than welcome. I am not much of a FPS gal, but will give anything a go. I also want to play more board games. I miss having a group of people to play games from Scrabble to Ticket to Ride since most of my friends have moved away in the last year or two (darn academia!). I wanted to buy a game today, and put it back thinking to myself – who would I play with!? Regardless, games on my radar include
- Cards Against Humanity and its more PC sibling Apples to Apples - got to play both games with a great bunch of people in the last few months; just have to wrangle ‘em up again =)
- Puerto Rico. Played this quite a few times with my good friend Tam (who sadly no longer lives near me). Again, would have to find a few people to lure over to my place to play, but it’s always great fun.
Of course, always open for suggestions too – perhaps it’s time I start getting out of my house and joining in on the board game night’s I’ve been invited to…
My last resolution is to work at least 2 hours a day on my research/work. I would like to submit a journal article or two, and write a book proposal based on my dissertation (but with all the tweaks and changes that have I’ve been pondering since June!). I want to attend a few conferences budget willing, and hopefully get my name out there a bit more. Oh, and find a job in my field that nurtures my brain.
Ultimately, I want to stop dwelling on what hasn’t happened and start focusing on what could happen with some focus and hard work. Here’s to a productive and happy 2013!
A bit late, but I successfully defended my PhD dissertation on June 29th! Although it has only been two weeks, it seems like eons ago already. The defense went well, it was a great mix of rigorous exchanges and academic camaraderie. It lasted just over 3 hours and I passed with excellence. A few minor tweaks (the dreaded typo of course!) and it will be submitted to the archives to sit on the digital shelf among the work of my peers. Although many people had said that when I was done, I would not remember much and that I would just want to take a break for a bit, I found myself excitedly recounting every detail for those who could not attend. So many suggestions and directions came out of the defense that all I wanted to do when I got home (besides having celebratory drinks) was to etch out some notes and get to work on the next phase.
Of course, I am not even sure what that really is at the moment, but for now, I am happily working with/for Dr. Mia Consalvo on great research on Facebook games and families, I am reading some work written by a new colleague I am planning to collaborate with in the future, and I am hoping to push beyond my comfort zone and take my research into new directions as suggested during my defense as I work on a post-doc application for the fall (government sponsored post-docs are due in October so best I get started, and find an institution and/or supervisor!). I am also working on some entries for a Video Game Companion (edited by Mark Wolf), and have dreams of reshaping my dissertation into a proper book. It has only been two weeks since the defense, but I have already started on some significant edits thanks to a meeting of great minds in Switzerland last week. Overall, while I don’t have a tenure track job lined up, I have a pretty good to-do list to keep me working happily through the summer as I work on my c.v. and keep my eye on the job market this fall.
All in all, I cannot complain. After 10 years leveling up, I finally made it to the end game, and lucky for me, the expansions keep coming!
It has been just shy of 5 years since I began my PhD, and it’s been almost 8 years since I have been working on understanding that weird ‘something’ that I felt between myself as a player and Velixious, my avatar from way back when. Over the years, the research has shifted from a quest for personal understanding to exploring how others felt about their avatars, shifting notions of identity, and finding ways to deconstruct videogame play to understand if, when, and how what I have come to term as ‘hybrid-identity’ occurred.
And now the time has come to lay it all out on the line and defend my work:
Between Play and Design: The emergence of hybrid-identity in single-player videogames
June 29, 2012
9 :30 – 13 :30
This dissertation examines the complex nature of identity in single-player videogames. It introduces the concept of hybrid-identity and proposes an analytical framework to deconstruct gameplay across genres to distinguish moments of identity emergence. Hybrid-identity is a fluid, at times fleeting form of identity that exists between the player and the player-character which is developed during the networked process of videogame play. It necessarily includes the player (experience, play-context, etc.), the game environment (design, mechanics, etc.), and the mediating technology (computer, console, etc.) that facilitates gameplay.
In order to delineate the different aspects of gameplay that contribute to the potential emergence of different types of identity, a multifaceted framework was devised to isolate specific interactions between the player/player-character, player-character/non-playing character, player/game environment, player-character/game environment, and player/player. This framework was coupled with a secondary frame of analysis which included the examination of the specificities of the individual player and the mediating technologies that facilitated gameplay. A systematic analysis of gameplay and design elements of three different games; Mirror’s Edge (DICE, 2008), Alone in the Dark (Eden Games, 2008), and Fable 2 (Lionhead Studios, 2008) was performed to illustrate the varying degrees of identity emergence in different game structures.
For more details on location etc., please contact me via email.
The writing at least. I know there’s still the defense and whatnot, but the tome has been written… it’s incredible to think about it. A very strange bag of emotions …
I cannot believe that what I started in 2004 is done… in 2004, I was having a conversation with one of my professor’s at the time about my relationship with my avatar in EverQuest…Velixious …. trying to explain to him that she was a part of me but that her identity was not mine… but she wasn’t just a character in a videogame… and she wasn’t just something i made … that there was more to it than that… and he pushed me to figure out what that something was that wasn’t otherwise explained by all the other theories of identity that was already out there .. and so .. in 2004, i wrote my honor’s thesis – a lit review of identity across disciplines and I finish 8 years later with one more theory to add to that paper…
still have to defend it but …. wow….
The rounds of headlines that are coming out of the last round of research on the impact of gaming on marriages (and from what I see, MMORPG’s) look like this:
- Wired: MMORPG’s Can Hurt Marriages
- Daily Mail UK: Dungeons, Dragons and Divorce: World of Warcraft can seriously damage your marriage scientists say
- US News: Love and Warcraft: Spouses being pushed aside for video games
When it could look like this:
- Kotaku: Don’t Blame Your Crappy Marriage on Video Games
- Slate: How Playing Online Video Games Can Help Your Marriage
and the most balanced headlines I’ve seen:
- Scientific American: The Perils and Pleasures of Online Gaming for Married Life
- Slate: MMORPG like World of Warcraft can Hurt or Help a Marriage
See, all these articles reference the research of Michelle Ahlstrom, Neil R. Lundberg, Ramon Zabriskie, Dennis Eggett, Gordon B. Lindsay who researched and wrote an article called ME, MY SPOUSE, AND MY AVATAR: THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MARITAL SATISFACTION AND PLAYING MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER ONLINE ROLE-PLAYING GAMES (MMORPGS)
What bothers me the most is that every one of the articles linked above go on about the statistics and reasons people fight (and divorce) over excessive video game play. Of course, blaming the game, not the person or the relationship (thanks to Kotaku for pointing this out yet again for those who tend to forget). The titles reflect the negative view the media feeds off of when it comes to video games, addiction, social problems, violence, etc… (reminds me of the whole cigarettes are bad for you and lets do everything to make you stop smoking EXCEPT not selling cigarettes, because where would we make all that money from otherwise!? thing – but I digress).
What I find the most interesting is, after all the articles point out the negatives (without mentioning the context of the couples), is that there were positive effects found in the research. But the fact that the abstract itself gives six lines of the bad stuff (detailing it) and ends with “ Positive effects of gaming together were also identified.” …. can you maybe share in the abstract as much as you’ve shared the negative impacts?
Personal anecdote. My partner started playing EverQuest when it was released. It took up all of his time. It made me cranky (he has an obsessive personality). After a few months (3 actually), I decided to see what all the hype was about, made an avatar, loved it so much, we bought a second computer, opened a second account and we played together for 6 years (Dark Age of Camelot, Lineage II, and World of Warcraft). It was some of the best times of our lives as a couple – and as parents of young kids. We were housebound more often than not (never had any babysitters), and we played with Danes so our play schedule wasn’t infringing too badly on family life (and they loved fishing and doing tradeskills, so we all got to play!).
When we were faced with criticism from outside people (who didn’t play), we would always explain that it was no different than spending the weekend together camping, playing golf, whatever. The point was that we were doing something together that we both enjoyed. We even met people from around the world through our gaming experiences (and a trip to Denmark to remember!). Our circumstances and interests centered around gaming, and we are thankful for those bonding times. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had plenty of fights because he didn’t heal fast enough (he was a gnome cleric for a while) or I didn’t get my slow in on the mob fast enough (I always played a shaman)… there were nights I went to bed mad because my corpse was left out to rot (in early EQ days, there was a timer, and if you didn’t get your corpse out in time, your items would disappear – most corpse retrievals were long battles in secondary armor if you weren’t friends with a good monk).
Point is, all of these articles quote the article as saying:
- “According to the study, 76 percent of respondents from the “both game” group “reported that MMORPG playing had a positive effect on their marriages.”
- “The take-home message is that doing things together, whether you’re video gaming or doing something else, is better than doing something apart,” Lundberg says. “This confirms the idea that doing things that create interaction and bonding is obviously going to strengthen a marriage.”
- However, shared gaming produced a positive effect on the marital relationship for 76 percent of the couples playing together (which constituted 62% of the study participants).
I started this blog during my undergrad. It started out as a place that I could ramble on about the stuff I was reading, mixed with random thoughts and sometimes incoherent babble. I have tried making this a group blog for a while, enabling friends (who blogged at the time) to blog here in an attempt to get different content and viewpoints, but that faded out. I have blogged as coursework (on other blogs) and blogged for advertising (academic advertising) but most of all, I have been blogging for myself. Blogging is the only place you can talk to yourself in public and not look crazy.
One of the things that made me sad over the years is that the further along I got in my coursework, the less I talked about the work I was doing. Over time, identity management online has changed and become a lot more of a focal point for most people in any field. Getting fired over Facebook photos, or not hired because of an opinion posted to your personal blog, these things – among other reasons – are part of the reason my blogging has waned – become guarded even.
But I really want that to stop. I am in the last weeks (I HOPE!) of writing my dissertation. I am banking on a March 1st submission deadline with BIG HOPES to defend sometime in and around May/June. My committee is in place (I believe) and my support team is set to go. I want to start blogging again. Really and truly rambling about things that matter to me – a thought, an annoyance, a great book or a promising conference. I want to read again. Books that pull me in, challenge my ideas and make me really think about the world around me.
But what I really want for 2012 – is to start playing games again. I am writing a chapter on Fable 2 for my dissertation, and have been spending a few days over the last week refreshing my memory (one of the downfalls of doing all of the playing BEFORE the writing) and – I won’t get into the flaws of the game in terms of my own personal tastes – but it really made me miss playing mmo’s. I hope to get over the “nothing will ever compare to Everquest” feeling that plagued my runs at DaoC, Lineage 2, and WoW. I want to find something that pulls me in but doesn’t hold my hand. I want to explore places and meet new people.
As someone who has been quite out of the loop mmo’ wise, besides Star Wars, anything on the horizon that I should keep my eyes and schedule open for?
As mentioned in my last post (or two), I have been feeling quite overwhelmed with the speed that technology has been developing. Well. To be fair, I have no problems with the speed of development, just the speed of expected upgrading on behalf of the consumer. This goes for pretty all consumer products – not just tech stuff… I remember way back when we bought our first “used” appliance, a fridge – we went to a second hand store and I remember them telling me that if I wanted a fridge that would last (all eco/environment issues asides), then our best bet was to buy one that was made BEFORE 1985. Although not as environmentally sound, they were built to last forever – while the newer models are designed with a 10-12 yr life in mind so that people could ‘upgrade’ and buy more.
I feel the same way with my Ipod – the first one I had, I got in 2003 – a nice iVideo – I adored it – until the drive died in it about 2 years later. Then I bought an ipod Classic – a few short years later – the drive died, and I had to replace it. So on and so forth… I now have a nano – i love the size and the features, but fear it is an expensive two year solution to my personal musical listening needs.
But this is not a rant about apple. It is about the speed that we are expected to upgrade and change. This expectation is oddly in conflict with the concept of cell phone contracts … Case in point – my daughters both have cell phones on 3 year contracts. Yes, I know that’s bad of me, but for the phones they wanted, I could not afford the purchase outright… Before I go any further with this story – I just want to say, I hate all cell phone companies equally, and everyone has a story why XX company rocks or sucks…. moving on…. So – When I was with Rogers, I could upgrade my phone almost every 6 months, but it would reset the contract term. Boo Rogers. I eventually went to Bell. I can make changes to my phones without affecting my contract, but even having 3 phones on 3 year contracts (2 of which are smartphones), I am not offered ANY upgrading for the entire three years! (I have argued and asked for explanations many times). The thing is, I wouldn’t care so much (I don’t need to upgrade), if the companies themselves weren’t constantly shoving new phones down our throats and convincing the general population that every two weeks you need XX new phone for XX new service on XX new network blah blah blah (4g LTE anyone!?)
So – my youngest daughter is stuck with her Samsung Reclaim – an perfectly acceptable phone for a 13 yr old (when she got it) but now that she is 15 she wants something new and hip…
For myself, I am happy with my phone (much to the chagrin of a few of my friends). I love my blackberry. But they seem to be suffering from this upgrade upgrade upgrade mentality – fixing things that aren’t broken, and changing things to compete with other smartphones (namely the iphone. Well, RIM, I will tell you – if I wanted and iPhone, I would get one – not use some half-assed feature mimicking version of it. I chose the Blackberry for its own merit…). So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been getting notices to upgrade to os v.6.0. I have had the last version for quite some time – I like it a lot. It served all the purposes I needed – and I was happy. But I decided to not be a crankpot, and try the upgrade. WELL….. after a few days of trying to learn a new interface (up until this point, all the other upgrades were mostly back end), losing my simple interface theme, and constantly being told that I did not have enough space on my device to open xx website (the OS takes SO MUCH more space than the old one), I decided to downgrade. Yup. I want to be left behind. I am tired of running the upgrade rat race — at least for now.
It’s not that I hate things change. I am ok with change – I like change. I like new and shiny things too, it’s that the change is happening faster and faster that it is getting hard to keep up.
My name is Kelly and I’m a PC…. yes. I know … it seems that this is cause for shame in the world. I am surrounded by mac advocates, and they just can’t understand why I use a PC, constantly informing me of all its shortcomings and how much better my (tech) life would be if I would just make the switch. I have been told that I need an iphone. Even if I am happy with my blackberry, I don’t know how much I actually ‘need’ an iphone until I have one – then I would realize how much I’ve been lacking without one. I want to say I have never, since 1994 (when I bought my own computer), been infected with any computer virus – and I couldn’t play EverQuest on a mac in 1999, and my blackberry itself is overkill for my needs.
To those who keep trying to convince me, I say two things: I am an academic whose primary tech function is to write. I use the internet for fun (and some scholarly research), and I use MS word (or even google docs) to work. I understand that there are 100 things Mac’s are better for – if you are a composer or work in an area where graphics are key for example. Some around me claim that Mac is better for game design… but I believe this to be specific for those wanting to make games for the iphone… in my experience, many ‘a game designer use a pc… but that’s not my gripe (honestly, I could care less what other people use for things I do not do – and I don’t mean that rudely).
My second point is – what I don’t understand – how can everyone afford to own a Mac? I have to admit, that is probably my biggest deterrent. The price differential – for someone like me whose primary function is internet surfing and text creation – I cannot justify $1,000 minimum for something that suits my functional needs for $400. Don’t get me wrong – I understand spec for spec, they are not the same machines whatsoever. And who can deny mac’s sex-ay aesthetic and lightweight portability? But whenever I look at my budget and my needs, I cannot even begin to justify the cost. Hell, I cannot even find it in my student budget at all (which brings me back to – how can every undergrad and their dog own a mac – let alone an iphone too! lol)
Perhaps there is some deep (deep deep deep) rooted tech envy. I doubt it though. For other areas in my life, I have tried to be reasonable (with the exception of shoes and face cream). We drove a toyota Echo for years because it sufficiently served our functional need. Sure, it would have been nice to have … well … any other car – but in the end, why pay more for something you don’t really need. It’s really all about the cost to need ratio.
In the end, I will continue to be a pc girl in a mac world. Hope you still want to be my friend
I know age is relative, but lately I have been finding myself saying things that I never thought I would say…
Every time I watch MuchMusic’s top 20 videos with my daughters, I inevitably say ”back in my day” … never fail. I find myself telling them that “back when I was young” the videos had more variety, there was less gratuitous sex, blah, blah, blah. Never thought I would be that mom, but I am happy to be a muchretro subscriber….
I drive youngest daughter crazy when we go shopping because 80% of the styles at H&M or Forever 21 are clearly leftovers from the 80′s and ’90′s ..I mean, there not even “redesigned” or a modern version … I swear! Of course when we go shopping I have to point this out in some sort of annoying mom form like “oh my, I wouldn’t even wear that when it was in style the first time” or better “I think I still have this in a box in the basement” …
But the worse came out of my mouth last night – when we were watching television, and a commercial for “America’s Fastest Network” came on (can’t remember the company) and they were announcing 4g LTE – and I looked at my daughter and asked her “what the hell is that!? I thought it was a 4g network”? Her response of course rolled off her tongue like a true teenager, with a heavy sigh as she utters “mooooooom, its LITE – like, you know, FASTER than just 4g…” and what comes out of my mouth next stunned even myself as I muttered “hell, I haven’t even made it to 4g yet – can’t they just leave things alone for a while” ….
Am I really getting that old!?