Research & Thoughts on Handheld (& Mobile) Gaming

I recently contributed to a journal submission with a few colleagues (now in review) and I was tasked with fleshing out a section on game studies (with a specific goal mind you). Writing a bit on mobile gaming (and more specifically handheld devices such as the Nintendo DS), I was taken aback about how little I could find. Of course, after we submitted the manuscript, Samuel Tobin‘s book Portable Play in the Everyday was available as a free download at Palgrave (Pivot titles). I must say, I am very much enjoying it. It is nice to see research on mobile gaming (and not just ‘apps’ on phones etc) that looks at the who what why how and where people play mobile games. I especially like the idea that mobile gaming is pervasive in our everyday lives, played in the liminal moments of life instead of being the prime activity front and center. An activity that often fills the gaps between happenings. Reading through some of the examples of the book, I find myself nodding in agreement as I think about my partner borrowing my daughter’s DS when he drives me to do groceries. He hates shopping of any sort, so he sits in the car and waits for me while he plods away playing the DS. The game is (often) irrelevant – the goal is not to finish a level or mission, but to fill the gap while waiting for time to pass until it

This is in complete contrast to the ways we normally think about gaming. A console confines the player to a certain time and space. When turning the console on, it is with the goal to log in and play a game (of course this can be argued the more and more our consoles are being redesigned as multi-functional multimedia devices). Of course, it could be argued that playing a console game can also be a means to pass the time between two events – but more often than not, the act of playing a game on a console (or pc ..) is the activity in and of itself.

Another interesting point that Tobin makes is that many DS players don’t consider their DS play as ‘gaming’ in the same sense as one would think of console or pc gaming, making it more of a challenge to research who is playing mobile games, why, when and how much. I am not done the book yet (I have a few books on the go – making my attention span a bit wobbly). But I look forward to reading more about handheld gaming.

Also, if ‘social, casual and mobile’ games is your thing, there is a “Call for Chapters: Social, Casual, Mobile: Changing Games (Edited book collection)” but hurry, deadline for abstracts (500 wrds) is Dec 6th, 2013!

When Did I Get a Fear of Blogging !?

I have been blogging more or less for almost ten years. Some years more than others of course. Every time I hear or read something interesting, I think to myself ‘oh, I should blog about that’ – and the draft posts in my dashboard is full of half-written blog posts about thoughts, ideas and opinions about almost everything. So why have I not published anything (especially anything of any substance) in a while? Well, after a conversation with a colleague yesterday, I think I’ve figured out the “why”. You see, I started this blog as an undergraduate. It was a place that I could ramble on about things that I didn’t understand, or work through understanding some theory or other, I shared reading notes and opinions on different aspects of my gaming experience, and even divulged curious thoughts about my personal life. I had no problem sharing what was in my head.

But the further along in my academic career I had gotten, the more and more I have become aware of what goes online stays online; colleagues and prospective employers search online to find out more about each other. Opinions are formed. With PhD in hand, I realize that I have increasingly become afraid of misinterpreting a book or theory and sharing that misinformed knowledge with the world. I have become nervous about ‘oversharing’ aspects of my personal life that I once found funny or curious because ‘you never know who is reading’ and how it will be perceived. 

For me, blogging used to be an informal outlet for my random thoughts and jibberish, but as I get older and work the job market, I am more and more apprehensive about blogging about almost anything beyond newsworthy links and practical information. In the end, I’ve realized that the further along in my ‘career’ I’ve become, the less apt I am to share openly what is on my mind. I am realizing that there was freedom in being a ‘young’, green academic. I could say what came to the top of my head; ramble on about what X author made me think about, play with making connections – putting it out there to see what others thought and helped me think through things. But now, I am afraid of getting it wrong; of writing a rambling post on my thoughts on actor-network-theory and avatars and have someone tell me that I got it wrong. That thats now how it works, or worse yet, a prospective employer googling my as they review my application and stumbling upon a post that makes them think “hm, this lady doesn’t have a clue about X or Y” … And so, I realize that I have been blogging ‘safely’ – which most often ends up not at all. 

Which brings me back to a question that Bart Simon asked me way back when I first started blogging -what is blogging to me? why am I blogging? Who am I blogging for? and What do I want to get out of blogging on a public platform? – I think it’s time I review my answers on these questions and see where it takes me as I try to move forward in (re)establishing my “digital presence” (this wasn’t even a thing when I started blogging!! – gah! Having to think about my image and ‘digital presence’ ugh!! lol) 

Online Presence, Old Blogs and Overhaulin’

On Thursday night, Thorsten Busch, Lina Eklund and Jennifer Whitson and I participated in an informal panel on “Coping with Academic Drama“. There was a great turn out, and I was really pleased with both the advice and discussion that ensued. One of the last things we touched on was online/digital presence, and it got me thinking. While my blog has been around for many years, I’ve come to realize that it is time for a complete overhaul of both aesthetics and content. I miss blogging, even though it has changed a lot over the years, but I realize that so have I. This blog started out as a space for myself as an undergrad to ramble on about being a full time student, parenting and grappling with the new world of academic thinking and social theory. But now that I am finished my PhD, while I still grapple with theory (who doesn’t?!), and on the job market, I have been rethinking my blog, the links it points to and how it does (or does not) reflect who I am both personally and professionally. So with that, I think it is time for a complete overhaul. So please, bear with me through the changes – and with any luck, I will get back to using this space to share my (often gibberish) thoughts, interesting links and notable goings-on both locally and online.