But Why Games? I am (still) working on the paper f…

But Why Games?
I am (still) working on the paper for the upcoming DiGRA conference, and for the first time (in about 3 months of writing on and off) i let someone else read it. The feedback was not as scarry as I had imagined (isnt that always the case?) But one question that keeps coming back to haunt me thanks to my professor – why games? what is it about games – mmog’s in particular – that makes this worth talking about.

I am writting on functional roles designed into the game, the expectations that surround that role and the actualized, played role. This process is nothing new outside of the world of games. Social theory that deals with the social stucture of functioning systems (bureaucracies and society itself!) talks about individualization of roles, how this is allowed within a fixed (or necessary) functional structure.. so my question is – what is it about mmog’s (and EverQuest in particular) that makes games more then just an example of sociological role theory?

This is the question i am faced with heading into this conference. Although i am quite happy with the direction my paper is heading – is there more to it then example?

Triadic Thinking While working on my DiGRA paper, …

Triadic Thinking
While working on my DiGRA paper, I realized that everything I write is always compartmentalized into three sections. Every theory, every example.. and i wonder .. why 3?
The structure of my papers are always the same: Intro, three key concepts/ideas and conclusion. Even my Honours thesis was triadic in a way of sorts.. with three key themes, each with three key concepts (fixed, negotiated and fluid identity, each divided into three parts; construction, commitment and perception)… point is, why 3’s?

Making a Comeback I have mentioned before that the…

Making a Comeback
I have mentioned before that the game of EverQuest has changed enough to make anyone who takes a lengthy vacation feel like a first time player. Over the last few weeks, I have transfered my character to a new server to play with some old friends. Even though we are only 5 levels apart, the differences are drastic. The guys who always took care of me back in the day have once again taken up the role of caretaker. After looking at my gear, and a few chuckles later – the adventure (re)begins. I have committed to logging in every day for at least 3 hours. Today, those three hours were filled with asking stupid questions and getting lost.

Nonetheless, I am excited to be back. I got a few OMG YOUR BACK tells today, and thats what makes my moments of public stupidity worth it.

Simmel, Sociability & Fun in Games I am re-reading…

Simmel, Sociability & Fun in Games
I am re-reading an article by Georg Simmel called The Sociology of Sociability. Quite an interesting piece that deals with the question of fun, play, and the sociability that surrounds it. The jist of what I get out of the article is that in order for true sociability to exist in the context of fun, it cannot be content or purpose-laden. As Simmel states “sociability, in its purest form has no ulterior end, no content and no result outside itself, it is oriented and completely about personalities“, I am led to ask myself how does Simmel’s concept of sociability fit into the (often structured) form of play. Simmel goes on to say that once content and purpose is introduced, pure sociability is lost. Play then loses its ‘fun’ and becomes an “association determined by content“. Is that how we are to see goal oriented games? As nothing but a replica of the ‘tit for tat’ social interaction of ‘real life’?

When I play table top “social” games with friends, although there is a purpose or goal surrounding the act of play, most of us will agree that the game is an excuse to be social, this kind of reverses Simmel’s sociability, in that the social is instigated by the goal, but through the act of play, the goal gets lost and the purpose becomes the social.