To be or not to be a girl geek

A little personal reflection …Image

If your reading list is like mine, you may have noticed the controversial (or tedious) blogpost in Forbes about Fake Girl Geeks. I initially hadn’t thought to comment it, but alas – I can’t seem to help myself. I remember our first Girl Geek Dinners Bergen meeting and when we started discussing who was allowed to come to our events and who was not, the brilliant Hilde Corneliussen just simply said “Why should we have to exclude anyone?”. And so began our policy that anyone who wanted to come to our events was welcome.

I sometimes felt torn about this decision. I relished every moment I had with these great women. It was so fun to talk about so-called geeky subjects at the same time as I could giggle foolishly without seeming insincere. But there was just no way that I would turn anyone away that was interested in coming. The word “girl” has also been an issue that’s been discussed on the subject of girl geeks. Some have felt that in order to be taken seriously we should call ourselves “women” (which we are). But for me, I loved the relaxed atmosphere and the unseriousness of the word “girl”. I desperately needed a venue to chill and talk about geek issues and could never think of these events as business networking opportunities. If we used the word “women” I feared that the atmosphere would become too serious and businesslike. But this is for the next generation og girl geek leaders to decide – I’ve stepped aside.

My geekdom

Another hinder we kept coming across were girls and women who wanted to join our dinners but feared that they weren’t geeky enough or that we weren’t geeky enough. I was constantly asked to define exactly what a geek is and this is the line I usually came up with:

“A geek is anyone who’s extremely fascinated about something and wants to share it with us. The subject can be anything from a favourite knitting pattern to a space shuttle design.”

I’ve always felt very pleased with that, although I never seemed to gather large swarms of crowds – but it felt right to me.

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Machinima – fan art?

I’ve often thought about machinima as fan art – but I’ve never felt completely comfortable with it. I’ve always felt like machinima in itself – was an artform in it’s own right. But then there are such lucious films like this. Which clearly is fan based, but a voyeuristic delight none the less!

Speaking of fan art – I’ve started a little theory about why we’re not talking enough about this in Norway. We have no word for “fan” – seriously – if you can think of something do tell me – but I don’t think we have a word for ‘fan’. We have supporter – which is generally considered to be football fans. But it’s not even that – a football fan is a supporter, although I’m not sure that a WoW machinimator is a supporter of Blizzard. It’s baffled me for a while now and there’s definitely a cultural significance in being wordless on the subject. It’s interesting – and just a thought to share.

Entertainment, Games, Technology – wOOt?!

There’s been some interesting blogposts lately about the frustrations of what articles to put where, what to discuss where and what words describe what?

Aleks, at The Guardian Games Blog ponders on the acceptability to blog about social software in a games oriented blog. Second Life (which my puter stubbornly is denying me access to), MySpace, Flickr and del.icio.us all encompass play, as well – but is it right to discuss them in a games blog?

“For me, social software often fits the bill more so than goal-directed environments in which I have to shoot things (badly), solve puzzles (incorrectly) or collect items I don’t care about (slowly). Yet in these environments there is play. Even if the play is not formal, there are playful experiences. And so I think they deserve as much time on here as the latest chart toppers.”

I think I disagree. I think we’ve moved beyond this now – these places deserve their own spaces for discussion. But ofcourse, sometimes these social software sites produce games as well and sometimes people make some fascinating gaming observations of them, like “Digg-ing the game”! Which definitely deserves discussion in a games blog!

Meanwhile, over at Wonderland, Alice ponders about BBC’s editorial decision to report that the World of Warcraft expansion is delayed in the Technology section, alongside news about YouTube and Google. I think a lot of news about World of Warcraft is very interesting to technology readers and definitely deserves space there as a lot of what’s going on there has to do with technology, culture and society. But that the expansion is delayed is pure entertainment news, to be sure! I understand that it can be confusing at times, though. Seb Potter has a comment which I agree with:

“I’d like to see “Virtual” as a section, but I guess you’d start to need to just duplicate all the categories of real-life news eventually.”

I’m partial to ‘Virtual Life’ as a section. Some World of Warcraft news is pure gaming news, technology news and virtual life news – we shouldn’t have to think that just because World of Warcraft is a game, that all news from within has to be documented in a games section. And I certainly feel that there is room for another section of news with the title ‘Virtual Life’ – I’m sure most gamers who don’t play Second Life are extremely tired of all the Second Life news in their medium, and well…Second Life isn’t a game! BUT! If someone were to design a really cool game in Second Life – I’m sure they’d love to read about it! And as for the technology section, I’m sure the social impact new technology has had in MMORPGs is only interesting to a certain point, I think it’s time to move on! Unless you’re actually interested in ‘virtual life’! Sigh…am I making any sense?
It certainly is obvious that we’re at a crossroads here, which is so exciting! I can imagine myself as a granny someday saying “Oh…I remember back when we thought these worlds were just games for pure entertainment! Ha ha ha! We were so naive!”

Gamers or players?

Oh how I hate proof reading!!! I despise it!!! The minute I start doing surgical insicions in text I loose the flow and the impulse to start all over again is just …. ahhhhhh!!!! Will I ever start writing sanely again!!!

Anyways! I’ve realized a bunch of mistakes lately! Apart from the academic stupidities I’ve also noticed that I switch from writing American to British and back all the time! But I should be able to catch most of it with spellcheck, right? Speaking of which, it now lets me write game play as one word! Is that allowed, you think? I’ll have to check up on other texts – but I rather like gameplay!

And I’ve also noticed that I’m all over the place using the words ‘gamers’ and ‘players’ randomly. I should decide on a destinction,huh? Use players when referring to so and so, and gamers when refering to so and so? Sigh! I knew that this thesis would be all about definitions – but – argh! Maybe I can play miss smarty pants in the conclusion somewhere. “I’ve used the words player and gamer randomly here in order to illustrate a point”. Yeah! That’s sounding good to me right now! I’m sure I’ve got it all somewhere in my pile of notes somewhere!

Ludic Spray and Adult cultural preferances

Jeez! The folks over at Guardian Games Blog are back full swing after the summer and with impeccable style!!! I just have to cut’n’paste their stuff here!
Good pondering reliable Aleks has discussed with her friends and come up with a brilliant new word: Ludic Spray!

“At a meeting last month, a group of us decided to term this sort of thing “ludic spray,” inspired by Zimmerman and Salen’s definition of a “game,” from their book Rules of Play, and further extrapolated by Zimmerman here:

Game Play is the formal play of a game that occurs when players follow rules…

Ludic Activities are other kinds of activities that we would recognize as play (two dogs chasing each other, two kids rough-housing, someone casually tossing and catching a ball)…

The “spray,” therefore, is the stuff that is inspired by a formal game but doesn’t adhere to its rules. This can be anything from fan fiction to independent spin-offs to formal business ventures (as in the case of the previously-mentioned economies).”

I shout yay! for effort! But…I honestly have a hard time believing it’s not more complicated than that! Seems a bit too simple! Not that I mind simple, it just encompasses too much – and it becomes more like the dust bunnies I shove under the sofa, you know?
Anyways…she had a great link in there to a Zimmerman interview, where he discusses definitions of game, play, narrative and well…the usual yoo ha – Klabbers’ people and Young’un Stavelin should find it interesting!
Also!!! Greg comments

“And yes, I know games mags are aimed at a much younger audience – Edge aside – but seeing the sci-fi/fantasy hegemony splattered across 90 odd pages made you realise that the industry has a long way to go if it wants to gain or retain the interest of adults whose cultural interests extend beyond Lord of the Rings and Star Trek.”

Too right!

Sigh! Too many interesting reads!!! Too little time in the day!!! Need to get back to work!

Frasca

This whole narratology vs ludology discussion is quite…well…ARGH! Just frustrating, I guess – and ofcourse this comes from the fact that we’re still trying to figure out the language of games.
So I had a glance at my huge ‘to read’ pile the other day, upset because I keep maneuvering myself into tight suffocating corners that I can’t spread my wings and fly away from. But I guess that’s what writing a thesis is all about ey? Narrowing things down to the bare essentials and constantly contradicting oneself?
Anyways! I pulled out some Gonzalo Frasca, which I had put aside because I naively thought I could escape the whole narratology vs ludology debate! He uses a Markku Eskelinen quote which I LOVE!

“As Markku Eskelinen argues, “outside academic theory people are usually
excellent at making distinctions between narrative, drama, and games. If I
throw a ball at you I don’t expect you to drop it and wait until it starts
telling stories””

Don’t you just love that?! What a great way to mock the debate! Anyways…the article (or is it an introduction chapter?) can pretty much be summed up by:

  • representation vs. simulation
  • Aarseth’s cybernetic systems
  • simulation semiotics or “simitiocs” (what a lovely new word!)
  • “Simulations can express messages in ways that narrative simply cannot” (how bold!!!)
  • A discussion on Caillois’ definitions of ‘play’ and ‘game'; piadia and ludus
  • 3 act rule (which I’ll write more about in next post)
  • 3 different ideological levels in simulations
  • A typology of simulation rules

You’ll be reading a bit more about this later on today or tomorrow! I’m at work right now and I don’t have my Jesper Juul or Espen Aarseth notes available!

Hmmm….so why did I even bother writing this post? Well first off…you have to admit that quote is amusing, but probably because I’m in the middle of writing a job application to a really cool job, and didn’t want the first post they saw to be my emotional worship of the Sultan’s Elephant! He he! The dilemma’s of linking to your blog everywhere and at the same time trying to sell yourself as a sane desirable person!!