After reading the first few pages of Gibson’s Virtual Light, I am sad to say that I have to abandon the book for now. Reading (fiction) is a finicky ordeal for me. I have many books sitting on my shelves that looked interesting, but after reading the first chapter, I wasn’t pulled in enough to keep turning the pages. Interestingly, they always get read – at some other point in time, usually years after its initial purchase. Another headspace, another chance.
So while out meandering about town today, I found Coupland‘s Eleanor Rigby on the sale table of my favorite book store. I know I like his writing style, and know that I am in the headspace for his fiction. I will keep Gibson’s book beside my bed and drag it around with me over the next few days/weeks and hopefully I will get into his headspace.
Although I liked the crisp clean look of the template the site has adorned over the last few weeks (days maybe), I am still poking around for the template that does all that I want it to do and still looks like me, if I was a blog page of course.
Just a quick note … I was thinking, perhaps it would be interesting to write a book of play(er) biographies – using the networked identity framework that I etched out in my MA Thesis. The whole point of my thesis was to introduce a framework – a tool – for researchers to use when thinking about identity in goal oriented virtual worlds (with the hope of expanding it out towards digital social spaces). In a way, it would be fun to write an anthology of sorts made up of biographies – to see if my theory works beyond myself and those I’ve (briefly) interviewed.
I remember one of the reasons why I stopped reading fiction – besides having my time almost completely consumed by school work and theory. As I finished James Flint’s Habitus last night, I was left with this puzzled, nagging, unfinished feeling. I read through almost 600 pages of rich descriptions and complex ideas only to (SPOILER ALERT) have everyone die in the last 3 pages and the looming theory/point of the book wrapped up in a few short paragraphs.
I used to love Margaret Atwood – I couldn’t read her books and stories fast enough. Until one day it dawned on me that she never really ever gave the reader closure. Indeed, some would say that this is what makes her great – always leaves the ending shrouded in ambiguity – up to the reader to think about it… perhaps never really coming to a firm conclusion … and that is when I stopped reading her books. It frustrated me to have to put the book down because there were no more pages to read.
Continuing my fiction marathon, I am almost embarrassed to share the title of my next selection. But not THAT embarrassed. Gibson‘s Virtual Light. I have only read two Gibson novels – All Tomorrow’s Parties (my introduction to Gibson’s writing) and Idoru. Since my academic research and personal interests surround ideas of identity, being and cyberspace, one would think I would have read all of his books by now!
I have been reading this book over the last few days, and one of the characters is obsessed with plotting numbers of occurences and distances (related to the holocaust in his example) and correlating them to the result of a double dice role. Inspired by the game of roulette, he is convinced that by using these numbers, there is come greater calculation that will prove that there is no such thing as randomness in the universe, therefore proving that all events in the world are potentially predictable; including the holocaust, and other genocides past and future.
The thing is, he hasnt quite figured out what the actual mathematical calculation will be (at least not at the part of the book that I am currently at), and he believes that as long as he is collecting the relevant data, rolling his dice and keeping track of it all in mountains of notebooks, the calculations will reveal themselves (organically so to speak) when there is enough data to figure out the answer. A form of mathematical grounded theory you could say, which will, he hopes, answer specific philosophical questions about time, space and the human form.
As his theories (and most of the book) is driven by the game of roulette, (misconceived) notions of chance and patterns of probability, it got me thinking alot about play patterns in repetitive (video) gameplay, and how, with the right amount of cumulated data on recorded play sessions of players, one could map out individualized play(er) biographies. What purpose they would serve? At this point, I cannot imagine it being more than sociological curiosity, but somehow, I have this nagging feeling, that – like the character in my book – if I collect the data, code it by emerging elements from within the data and file it away, patterns would emerge and gain meaning.
Having been driven by my own experiences for the last few years, it somehow feels artificial to try and find the ‘next’ game to play to work on. One of the things that I struggled with was (and still is) defining the scope of my work. I keep struggling with the question of whether I am researching games, or people who play games, or the experience of playing those games. Working with EverQuest (and drawing on my other MMORPG experiences in Dark Age of Camelot, LineageII, Horizons & World of Warcraft) the focus was always about the relationship between the player (basically me) and the game, and the unique elements of the gamespace that influenced the networked process of identity construction.
Now that the primary ideas from that project have been written down (but by no means completely wrapped up) I am not sure what to do. Since the research developed somewhat organically from experiences that were not clouded with a research question behind every click and interaction, the direction it took felt natural. But now that I am supposed to be moving on, trying to figure out what is next, I cannot imagine ‘picking a game’ to play based on a set of research criteria to seek answers to the questions that came out of my thesis. It feels forced.
I am still passionate about finding the answers (or developing answers) to the questions that linger, but I am unsure of how to unearth them in a way that does not feel like I am setting up the labratory to find what I am looking for. I mean, how is selecting a game based on your research questions any different than the lab coat research I am so critical of?
A group of women (and a guy) put together an interesting monthly online magazine called Cerise. I am hoping that the content and contributions will push the current state of writing on girls and games. From their mission statement:
At its core, Cerise is a resource by and for women gamers. We are dedicated to increasing the voices of underrepresented identities in the game develop industries and in gamer communities.
Although gender is the foremost focus of Cerise, we are dedicated to creating an inclusive space for individuals of all identities traditionally underrepresented in the mainstream, and for our allies who support our movement to increase our presence and representation in the game industry.