Susan O’Connor knew from the age of four that she wanted to be a writer. What she didn’t know was that she would grow up to work in the videogame industry, where the audience runs wild. “In games, agency matters,” says O’Connor. “Players want to control the action.” Out of necessity and desperation, she (and writers like her) have found new ways to tell their stories.
Like magicians palming quarters, some game developers hide their plots in plain sight. Their sleight-of-hand gives players the freedom they expect and the storylines they demand. But these magic tricks come at a surprising cost. What are these game narratives telling us about our world – and ourselves?
Games in O’Connor’s portfolio have sold over ten million copies and generated more than half a billion dollars in sales. In her thought-provoking TEDxBeaconStreet talk, O’Connor spills the beans about what she’s learned about writing, illusion, and desire.
A native of Austin, O’Connor now lives in San Francisco and splits her time between game projects, TV assignments, and surfing.
My wonderfully talented friend, Tini Malitius, sendt me this very inspirational talk by Tina Roth Eisenberg (Swiss Miss): The Power of Side Projects and Eccentric Aunts. I would also add that it’s also about the power of community and how important it is to surround yourself with smart people. Not to mention the acknowledgement that haters are gonna hate! It’s a very personal talk as she bases it on what she wants to teach her kids. It gave me the boost and inspiration that I needed, hope it does the same for you!
Will Wheaton has a great new show on table top games on the new YouTube channel Geeks & Sundry. I wasn’t expecting to, but I actually watched the whole thing! So he invites guests and they play through a table top game entertainingly and informatively. This time around was Small World. There’s some great camera angles and it’s beautifully edited so that I learn the game as I chuckle and I don’t get bored. Extra kudos for inviting a woman! I hope they do Android at some time because it’s still in my closet after ending play with a big unison sigh after a dinner party over a year ago. Having a program like this to make me understand the goal and rules of the game will be lovely. And Mr. Wheaton is just the perfect game master for such a show! Very cool gaming table!
I just watched this wonderful keynote by Leigh Alexander on the challenges of being a female journalist and being labelled a feminist journalist because she writes about things such as computer games. She really gives a lot of her own personal experiences and I’m very thankful for that. I recognise a lot of what she brings up. It’s awkward, uncomfortable and a bit daunting being asked to have an opinion or a voice for an entire gender, speaking on behalf of all woman everywhere. I don’t even feel comfortable talking on behalf of female gamers. But Alexander is great at pointing out that we already have some wonderful female role models in the game industry out there and that we shouldn’t let ourselves be silenced for our gender or that the pressure of talking on behalf of a gender is too awesome. Her conclusion was absolutely great: “I believe that games can speak to more people than they already do and in order for that to happen they need all of our voices – they need you!”. Thanks Mathias Poulsen for recommending it!
I’m organising a Girl Geek Dinner this year. Last year I organised an Ada Lovelace Day Dinner – although – saying that I “organised” it implies that I actually did any work. I really didn’t – I just told all the women I admire “hey – wouldn’t it be cool for all of us to meet up for dinner one day?” and just picked a date. Ada Lovelace Day seemed like a great opportunity. This year – I’ll be on the plane to Chicago on the 24th – so I thought it a good a day as any – to organise an event on the International Women’s Day.
This year – we’ve got something resembling a theme. I felt that finding a common theme was challenging – and suddenly I thought about the Interesting conference which I learned about after reading the fabulous Roo Reynold’s blogpost. I was so smitten by the context, and thought that was rather geeky of me. So of course? How do you define a girl geek? You really don’t – except I find that girl geeks always get enthusiastic about something interesting. Something you’d like to learn more about. And it’s always such a joy to listen to someone who is passionately interested in something. And I think girl geeks, are always passionately interested in something that is interesting. So the theme is “An interesting Girl Geeks Dinner on International Women’s Day”. We’ll be picking out 3 girl geeks to give a 10 minute talk each on something they find interesting before dinner – and then 3 after dinner. I’ve booked a room at the back of a restaurant – Wesselstuen, to be exact – and you’re more than welcome to come!
There’s a Facebook group here. If you’re in Bergen on the 8th of March, please do join us!
I’ve been hassling IT-journalists about getting involved with Ada Lovelace Day and now I’m sitting here on the day – completely rushed on my own contribution! Just goes to show – hassling people is a tricky thing to pull off respectfully
So, in the spirit of Ada Lovelace Day, I would like to focus on Tracy Harwood.
We were so lucky this fall to have her visit Landmark in our humble city of Bergen, Norway for a lecture on Machinima. It was a pleasure to have her here and she inspired me (and dare I say, my mom) to keep living my life as colourful as possible.
Tracy Harwood is today a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort University. She’s a professional marketer and has a PhD in negotion of buyer-seller relationships.
In November 2006, Maren Agdestein organised a lunch where she gathered three women she had met that were writing or considering to write about computer games for their master’s thesis. Seen here on the right from the left: Marianne, Me, Maren and Hedvig. At that time we called ourselves The cHixOrs, not really thinking that we’d do anything more than just meet up every now and then for a chat about games and our academic interests. But I think all of us really enjoyed geekspeaking with other women. There was just something really uplifting, fun and liberating about it.
Since we’ve become such a connected society, I’ve noticed that my idols are more local. They’re reachable, and I may even have talked to them. Maybe its my age, but my idols aren’t billionaires (well – at least I don’t think they are) or global popstars – instead my idols are nearby, within my reach and guess what? They’re all women! I thought about this a few months ago and thought I’d save writing about it until this womens day. As my little tribute.
First off – by idol I mean a person that truly inspires me. It’s a person I draw strength from. I don’t want to be this person, I’m quite happy with who I am. But these people help me to strive for things I really want to do. I feel inspired when I’m around them or reading/hearing their work.
Keep a look out for Jill Walker Rettberg and Hilde Corneliussen‘s Digital Culture, Play and Identity. A World of Warcraft Reader which is now available for pre-order at amazon. The table of contents looks snazy, tasty and delicious. It’s a book I’ll definitely be reading no matter what I’m doing in my life at point of release. I can’t tell you what a thrill it is to have two women like Hilde and Jill at the university. I keep kicking myself, though, for staying the media studies path instead of joining the Humanities. Oh well – such is life. Either way, they’ve been such an inspirational source for me the last couple of years – and I’ve never even had them as a lecturer for any class! Jill’s publications can be found here and Hilde’shere. Seriously, though, whenever I was going mad with the complications of thinking about virtuality, their writings always made me see a light at the end of the tunnel. This promises to be an excellent book. Contributers include: Scott Rettberg, Lisbeth Klastrup, T.L. Taylor, Ragnhild Tronstad, Tanya Krzywinska, Espen Aarseth – and more!
“That core of the singularity is what is actually Second Life’s core
strength, and what keeps its users struggling through the level grind and the
broken client and the lack of governmental, er, Linden oversight. Because as a
social MMO, once you get past all the clutter and dross, SL actually works. I
can honestly say that nowhere else online have I argued about Islamic
fundamentalism at one in the morning while lounging in a pool with a half-naked
demon-thing. Much like how people played Ultima Online despite its rampant
peekay and endless bugs simply because it was the promise of something new,
people find the core of SL is actually the other players. That’s something
that’s difficult to break.”