Rainy Holiday

Am on my annual pilgrimage to eastern Canada for summer fun (and work of course). However, the forecast shows rain, rain and more rain. It is one of the few times I hope the weatherman is blatantly wrong – or else, why have the beach so close when you are stuck indoors! And the weather gives me little excuse to procrastinate my long to-dop list – bah!

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Full Circle

Sometimes the research and the writing process has nothing to do with actually reading and writing, but rather, letting things stew in the back of your mind while you do other things. This is a hard process to accept – especially in the world of deadlines and other people’s schedules. However, I am happy to say that my indexicality paper has finally come full circle, and, while a tad late on the delivery, is ready to be taken seriously, and written. Essentially, I had to completely abandon the original text to even get back to it. I had torn it apart to its bare bones, barely recognizable to its original source, but after etching out a whole new outline, doing some more reading on (what was originally) peripheral topics, I realize the whole problem that I was having was that I was trying to work with someone else’s words, and not wholly my own ideas; using the wrong literature really. Once I realized this, I had come to the conclusion that in doing so, I was actually approaching my whole research question wrong; I was thinking about indexicality as something concrete – related to the materiality of the object; when in actuality (for the overall argument I was trying to make in the first place), it is really about its referentiality. Thinking of it this way makes more sense to what I am trying to say (will share that at a later date, since its all still in the writing stage), and helps me move away from concepts of indexicality traditionally used in film studies (often to make a case against digital media).

So – while it took longer than I wanted it to – I am happy to say that the “thought process” did it’s job. Now for the tediousness of writing it again!

It’s (almost) Summertime

(Finally) got news back from DiGRA – it’s a ‘yay’ .. now for the budgeting… I am excited to go to London again, but oouf the $$!  Oh well, if I have to pay for one conference this year, it would be DiGRA =)

Things have been chugging along- working alot at EA – was in a small rut there for a bit, but am finally starting to balance my work there and my academic life and family. This week is the last big push before I can head into summer work mode (which really just means doing the same amount of reading, writing and editing but on a beach or poolside in the country – thank you extended family). My to-do list is massive, but I think it’s a manageable massiveness. Fingers crossed that I am not fooling myself.

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EverQuest: 10 Years and still chugging along

The sad thing is, I missed EQ’s actual “anniversary”  this past March. The good news is I found an absolutely great write-up on it. As someone who started her hardcore gaming with EverQuest in August of 1999 (notwithstanding weekend-long Killer Instinct parties and an addictive passage through Super Mario Bros. on the SNES when I first started my bachelor degree in 1994 … ) this write up definitly encapsulates the nostalgia I feel when I talk about playing EQ “back in the day” and the sadness I feel when I tell people what I don’t like about World of Warcraft (and why I quit before the first expansion …). While it might not sound like fun, there has yet to be another mmo (imo) that developped such a sense of belonging to something – a community .. a world … in the same way.

Here’s a short excerpt from the article linked above (written by Egon Superb …)

To all but the most hardcore World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online or Age of Conan players, the original EverQuest would have seemed a monstrosity of unforgiving difficulty. There was little or no guidance beyond the original tutorial, and there were literally tens of quests, with no shiny yellow exclamation marks bobbing above NPC’s heads. In fact, most of the game was left up to the imagination and investigation of players, who were given no guidance beyond the knowledge of the name of areas and cryptic clues left by the designers throughout the original world.

In fact, the beauty of “Old World EverQuest” (referring to either the very first release of the game, or said world combined with the Ruins of Kunark and Scars of Velious expansions) was that most of the game – and I really mean almost everything – was left unexplained. After ‘hailing’ an NPC (pressing H or typing “Hail”) players would have to communicate with them – typing in random words and names, or handing over particular items in the hope that it would unlock the next step of the quest. This was at times aided by particular words being in square [brackets], signifying what word to type, but many times it was left up to the whimsy of the player to work out what to say. Much like the average player’s conversation with a woman.

Many of these quests didn’t reward experience, and for the most part you were left to grind – a negative term in the industry nowadays – all the way to level 50, then 60, then 70, then 80. The idea of moving to specific areas and completing quests was an alien concept – players did what they could to score as much experience as possible, and always in a group (as going solo was eventually suicidal). Some classes – for example Druids, Necromancers, and (during the Planes of Power expansion) Enchanters – would ‘kite’ enemies in circles, chipping away at their health bars with damage-over-time spells and keeping themselves as far away as possible, hoping that their prey would die before they got too close.

Back to Indexicality

I have been working on my secondary comprehensive exam paper/topic again . Again might not be the right word. It started out as a paper on figural meaning and its relationship to indexicality through the process of one’s imaginary museum (Lefebvre), but for the allocated length of the paper, it was way too much. I had tried to simply cut out the section on the imaginary museum – which left me with a paper on figural meaning and its relationship to the indexical, but then I was left with a conceptual gaping hole. After a meeting with my advisor, we both agreed that the section on the figural felt tacked on and incomplete. So, we decided to nix the figural altogether, and reinsert the section on the imaginary museum. However, after trying to rewrite sufficient transitions to make the paper the least bit comprehensive (ha!), I realized that the imaginary museum made little sense in my overall argument without the backbone (weak as it may have been) of the figural.

So It was time to go back to the outline writing stage again (thnx Shan) even though I already have over 8k words written, chopped to bits and reassembled multiple times…; in the end, I am left with a paper on the shifting (conceptual) boundaries of indexicality across medium (photo/film/videogames). While the idea of meaning making and memory is completely lost (will save it for another time), for the first time in a few months, I actually feel pretty good about the direction it is heading and the readings I have (re)selected. Now, here’s to crossing my fingers that I get a legible draft done by Saturday (advisor imposed deadline)!