CFP: Trials & Tribulations – Negotiating Research Methods in Cyberspace

Concordia University; Montréal, QC
November 10 – 11, 2006
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Technological innovations such as the Internet, cell phones, MP3 players and video game consoles have changed the ways in which people work, play, interact, communicate and define who they are. As use of these technologies increases, so have the methodological opportunities for researchers who study the ways in which people, both children and adults, use and experience digital culture. Academic interest surrounding these emerging technologies varies as widely as the disciplines themselves.

This poses a variety of challenges in researching digital culture given that every discipline employs unique methodologies specific to their field of study. As this type of research is still emerging, opportunities for the development of original and innovative ways of capturing on-line experiences continue to arise. This makes it particularly important for scholars across a variety of disciplines to come together to share the ways in which they have pushed the limits of traditional methods and overcome the challenges of research surrounding digital culture.

We aim to invite those who have an interest in and experience with conducting research online, not only as a tool but as space of inquiry. We hope to attract a range of scholars, from students who are beginning their research to seasoned academics who can share their experiences working with digital methods. The goal of this symposium is to encourage informal discussion, therefore participation will be limited.

For this, we invite papers that focus on but not limited to:

  • Ethical Issues
  • Researching video game console culture
  • Fieldwork Boundaries & Possibilities
  • From online & offline and back again: the question of merging identity
  • Post-Virtual Research: Situating the virtual as a space of inquiry after the real/virtual debate
  • Ethnography in cyberspace
  • The future of qualitative research online

SUBMISSION INFORMATION:
300-500 word abstract, excluding references
Deadline for Submissions: July 1st, 2006
Notification of Acceptance: September 1st, 2006

Please send a copy of your abstract to both Shanly Dixon, Humanitites (dixons@alcor.concordia.ca) & Kelly Boudreau, Sociology & Anthropology (kelly@gamecode.ca)

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DiGRA 2007 Tokyo in September. *Special Announcem…

DiGRA 2007
Tokyo in September.

*Special Announcement: DiGRA 2007 Tokyo*Research of digital games and related phenomena has attracted growing interest during the recent years, crossing disciplinary and national boundaries. Since its establishment, Digital Games Research Association(DiGRA) has aimed to support the international games research community with academic events and other activities. In 2003 the “Level Up”conference was organised jointly with the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, and in 2005 “Changing Views: Worlds in Play” with the Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.

On behalf of the DiGRA board, we are delighted to announce that the next DiGRA conference will be staged by DiGRA Japan in Tokyo during September2007. DiGRA Japan is a newly formed national association bringing together games researchers in Japan. The exact dates and the schedule for the submission of papers will be announced shortly. Please follow DiGRA-Announce and Gamesnetwork mailing lists and information at the http://www.digra.org/ website.

— DiGRA Executive Board

The Purpose of Blogging Something that is relative…

The Purpose of Blogging
Something that is relatively disputed among those who have been blogging since the proverbial beginning, but aside from the “real” purpose, I have been thinking about my purpose, and the ‘general’ purpose. Admittedly, my two final projects (for my cinema, vid game class AND my contemporary sociological theory class) involve the use or dissection of blogs. One as a tool and another as a … a what?

I have always stated that my personal reason for blogging was simply to get things out of my head, toss them around and have the ideas become somewhat of a seperate entity in and of themselves (not all posts fall under this category but still…). I have always maintained that I blog for myself, not for an (imagined) audience. So why not just write a journal offline? I don’t really have an answer for that… often the comeback is along the lines of ‘sharing my ideas with the world, collaboration, feedback’ etc etc. But judging by the number of comments over the history of this blog, I cannot truly say that this space gives me much more than a public venting opportunity. And besides – if I really do blog ‘for myself’, I wouldn’t care about the comments (or lack thereof).

So I am stuck with the question of why do I, Kelly – mother of two, MA student, friend and partner – feel the need to blog on a regular basis? Is it some inate desire to share my thoughts with the world even though I know that I could simply call the three people who actually read this space and have a conversation? And if it is a ‘cleansing’ of the (sometimes) intellectual mind, what drives me to such a potentially public space? I have a few theories but none of them answer ALL of the questions; and I am not comfortable having random, disjointed answers on this one..

Learning to Play (cross listed over at gamecode.ca…

Learning to Play
(cross listed over at gamecode.ca, with some editing here)

I am heading into my final project for my CIN6011, exploring the ways that people learn to play (in reference to my own play sessions written about here over the last few months) and how people ‘learn’ or understand a film. I have been working with overlapping theories of identification and will continue to do so, but I am trying to look at the broader scope of methods.

There is ample information out there about learning in games, games as educational tools and whatnot (Gee, 2003; Squire, 2002, Steinkuehler, etc.). But I have recently been interested in how we learn to play games. From the seasoned gamer’s tactic of jumping right in and intuitively learning the interface, controls and whatever else is necessary in order to play – to the use of manuals, FAQ’s and walkthroughs. Besides the obvious, I have been trying to think of other tactics of learning to play in games. A recent presentation in one of my classes had me thinking about layered learning, where repetition is the method. Although it has been agreed that repetition in games can become tedious and ruin levels of immersion, it is also a necessary (evil?) for the player to understand the game in terms of in world physics, maps and strategies. Any thoughts or ideas (and references) would be greatly appreciated.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Went to see them tonight …

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Went to see them tonight – not a bad show, but for anyone who has heard this guy’s voice – imagine it gets much worse amplified with a bad sound man controlling the mic. Their opening band – The Brunettes – rocked!!

My daughters go to a school that focus (among other arts) on music. My oldest daughter plays the clarinette (from grade 4 until graduation from High School) and my youngest daughter has just been assigned the trumpet. [In grade four, every child has to play the violin, clarinette, trumpet and flute – based on their final performance scores, they are assigned an instrument]

The Brunettes were great because they have the most ecclectic line-up of instruments. Opening song has ALOT of clarinette in it .. and a trumpet… and the xylophone (the favored instrument of my girls’ school for grades 1 & 2). I am excited to buy their cd so that my girls can see that everything from the triangle and blocks to trumpet, clarinet and electric guitar is cool and can make funky music.

Clap your hands say yeah – well, performance wise were pretty mellow. When the singer wasn’t singing, he had his back to the crowd playing guitar. Guess that’s one of the reasons the tickets were $16 and not $50… nonetheless, was a cool show and was nice to get out and see some live tuneage again.

p.s. went to the brunettes website, they have all their tunes available for direct listening. but i must say, they rock way harder then their studio stuff.

Board (Bored?) Participation As I sit here and pro…

Board (Bored?) Participation
As I sit here and procrastinate in what should be one of my busiest times of year, I find myself wandering the internet, trolling boards and scrolling through random blogs. After visiting all the usual suspects on my daily stroll through cyberspace. Found myself reading a babyblog today!! (and not just the first three words). But I know when I have been spending too much time perusing the textual goods when I get the urge to post replies. And even though I have logged in and read the boards for what seems like forever, I always get nervous when I type in my reply. Reading and re-reading it to make sure I don’t sound obnoxious – always feeling like poking my head in someone else’s changing room.

Which kind of (but not really) brings me to something my daughter brought up to me today – a myspace site of a teenage boy, who writes alternative poetry; kind of awkward, kind of off the wall, but a space my daughter enjoys reading. But she was telling me that the replies his space gets are usually extremely nasty flames, berating him as a person etc. and so forth. What I don’t understand is why don’t people just ignore his site? If they think its such a crappy site, why not just click on? It bothers me alot – it bothers her alot – since my daughter often finds solace in online space and communication and sees it that way for this particular guy we can only imagine how it makes him feel (she feels very badly for him).