Friday, July 22, 2011

Social games

Want to come up to speed fast on all those social games you don't have time to play? Mia Consalvo's recent 2011 Foundations of Digital Games paper "Using your friends: Social mechanics in social games" will do the trick. As Mia said to me at FDG, "I played these games so you don't have to" :P As per usual with Mia, the paper is excellently written, packed with content, satisfyingly concluded with useful take-aways. The FDG Proceedings do not yet seem to be available online, so I will provide the link when they are.

A Hidden Gem

Here is one of my absolute favoritist video gaming papers. It's been hidden away in an obscure publication and is now reprinted in a not much less obscure publication, a museum catalog no less. This work of which I speak is Celia Pearce's "Games as Art: The Aesthetics of Play." It's wonderfully written, includes great pix, and will make you wonder why we academics don't bestir ourselves to produce pleasing and provocative think pieces like this more often. Props to Celia.

Korea's Online Gaming Empire

If you have not read Dal Yong Jin's Korea's Online Gaming Empire, I can recommend it as a uniquely lucid discussion of the economics and culture of video gaming. It happens to be about Korea, which is fascinating in itself, but Jin goes beyond regional study to examine how video gaming permeates society and how capitalism drives culture. It's just a swell book. I'll be using it in my Fall Quarter course on Games and Society. The chapter on professional video gamers is poignant and not to be missed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Gaming in Central Asia

Beth Kolko and Cynthia Putnam wrote a first rate paper on gaming in the Internet cafes of Central Asia where they conducted a lengthy, and very impressive, field study. They argue that online games -- the fun games -- can familiarize people with computers, and we should be open to this possibility in the context of developing regions.

Kolko and Putnam are still making a "games can be useful" argument but with tact and sensitivity, and, I think, a certain political acumen. They don't expect low income people to confine their computer usage to education, finding, jobs and other instrumental purposes, but many of us are not quite ready to hear that, so the authors do an admirable job of valorizing games as inherently pleasurable, which we should not mind at all because effective technical education comes as a useful by-product.

An excellent read, here.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Galloway's Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture

Short but sweet. A good, clear discussion of the concept of diagetic play. Galloway says of video games, "One must interpret material action instead of keeping to the relatively safe haven of textual analysis."

I agree. In my book I came at this issue through activity theory, a very different approach, but, for the most part, the same sensibility as Galloway's, that video games are living actions.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Future of Girls, Gaming and Gender

An exciting conference on girls, gaming and gender takes place with a public Forum starting Thursday August 12, and continuing with workshops through August 14, in Chicago.

The list of speakers has some heavy hitters, and and the hands-on workshops for girls sound really fun!

The first day is free and I cannot imagine this event would not be of interest to almost anyone.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

An important paper from the late 90s

As data mining becomes an accepted methodology for studying virtual worlds, it's critical to remember that much communication takes place in private tells and is not captured in logs. This is a robust finding going back to text-based worlds of the 90s. For excellent treatment of this topic see Diane Schiano's paper "Lessons from LambdaMOO: A Social, Text-based Virtual Environment."

Not only do private data generally elude data mining efforts outside of experimental contexts (which have severe validity problems), what goes on in private in virtual worlds is deeply engaging. It can't be overlooked.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Life as a Night Elf Priest

My book My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft is available here. Twas very good fun writing the book, especially doing the research, but a lot of hard work too, like all books.

It is published by the University of Michigan Press in the Technologies of the Imagination Series.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Everything you always wanted to know...

but didn't know where to look for an analysis of cybersex is right here in Zek Valkyrie's exceedingly good article "Cybersexuality in MMORPGs: Virtual Sexual Revolution."

It's chock full of data from his extensive field research, well-written, and devoid of the fey musings that afflict much of what is written on cybersexuality. Valkyrie has spent a lot of time in game with his eyes open. He doesn't go for the sensational but the real. There's a bit more on Final Fantasy than World of Warcraft but he covers both. He knows his sociological literature and draws on a good range of thinking about sexuality in contemporary society.