Hi, my name is …

Over the last few months, I have been in various positions that I had to explain what it is that I “do”. Sometimes I have had 10 minutes to tell those around me what my research ‘focus’ is, where I am coming from, and where I am (hoping?) to go; but at other times, it is a 10 words or less, 2 minute ‘elevator spiel’. The “HI, I am Kelly, and I am interested in identity in mmorpgs – specifically the player/avatar (re-titled Plavatar today!) relationship and elements related to this process”. If I have an extra minute, I might be lucky enough to actually state that I do not think that, in terms of digital identity, that identity is solely located in the individual – (or the player) – that it actually exists in the relationships (with others or objects etc.). That identity is in the processes and not the end result (this is in my thesis …). But I rarely have time to get this far.

And honestly, this only covers what I have actually done so far. When do I get the opportunity to talk about all the open-ended paths and talk dark forests of questions that plague my future research? (Besides with my advisor… and does anyone actually talk about what they haven’t done yet?)

Recently, at AoIR, I met several people who could offer up some potentially intriguing conversations – but I have not yet mastered the art of contacting these people outside of the conference space and strike up a conversation with the hopes of working towards a fruitful exchange in terms of research ideas, directions and fresh perspectives. Any suggestions?

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One thought on “Hi, my name is …

  1. That’s such an interesting question as having a supportive community is so important as you discussed in your post on the power of community. I think that the superficial introduction that we do around the table is a developed skill which is instrumental in putting ourselves out there in order to make strategic connections. The relationships that evolve from those cursory spiels are much more complex. Sometimes the people who have highly developed skills in self promotion have little of substance to back up their pitch. It’s been my experience that building networks of academics whose work inspires me, whose company motivates me, who are encouraging and generous in their sharing of ideas and support of others is not an easy endeavor. However, it is well worth the effort. In my experience, it is not typically the person with the best 2 minute spiel whose work is the most interesting or has the most depth. Those more nuanced projects require a bit more time and patience to understand.

    This semester I finish my last exam and when the course that I am teaching ends I will be forced to face the daunting task of writing of my thesis. As I face the prospect of spending the next semester alone writing I am hyper aware of the value of the community of academics that support me and that I rely on to discuss those theoretical tangles that I can wrap myself up in. Which I guess is why we’ve started up the writing group again. I’m looking forward to evenings of good food, good wine, good conversation and academic support to get me through both the thesis writing and a long, cold, Montreal winter. All this to say, I think that you should connect with the people who interest you. Some connections may provide relationships that you want to develop and others may not, but it is those communities that you build that sustain you.

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