Western vs. Eastern gamers!

This just desserved to be blogged about and not just del.icio.us’ed! Aleks at Guardian’s gameblog has posted a great piece about the ‘Cultural Differences in Gameland’. It focuses a lot about the differences between Eastern and Western gamers. She mentions a hell of a lot I didn’t know about. Like the fact that we don’t get so much ‘gore’ because of Germany’s strict rules. And there’s an excellent quote from Ren discussing Prof Rischard Nisbett’s findings:

“Another point that Nisbett makes is that Westerners tend to assume
linearity but Asians assume circularity. For example he gave in a recent
interview was a stable set of circumstances a Westerner will tend to think that
this signified a trend and that things will continue in the same fashion but an
Asian will tend to think that it is indicative of the potential for change and
ultimate return to some pre-existing state.”

Well that explains a whole bunch to me! The whole article is interesting! You truely should have a look!!!

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Synthetic World News


Castronova’s posse at the Indiana University have started a blog called Synthetic World News! I don’t know why this has passed by me! Anyways…these are the folks behind Ludium (I’m still dumbfounded by their innovative creativity on research) so most likely interesting things will be revealed here!
First up is the Kuurian Expedition and they’re having a meeting at the Hall of Explorers, Ironforge, Silver Hand at 10 pm EST August 2, 2006. From what I gather it is a bunch of experienced researchers/players showing new people what synthetic worlds are all about and how we can learn and build from them. But I’m sure this sounds interesting to all you other WoW freaks as well!
I’m staying away from it all and trying to wrap things up! Although I’m suffering from some annoying syndrom that makes me fall asleep each time I open my thesis!! I will prevail though!! I shall conquer this beast of mumbo jumbo sadistic slime!!

Maretind (working title)

Nina Svane-Mikkelsen is a Ph.D. fellow (umh…I still get confused by university titles, so…) at my department (Information Science and Media Studies) and is working on a project entitled: Affinity and Battlefield. New media and museum communication – Communication design under imperative of database. Artistic intervention as a narrative grip.
They’re working on a computer game which is for the time being called, Maretind.

“A short description of the overall goal.
The goal is to develop a digital game that integrate knowledge regarding the MAR-ECO research project and key issues and findings of this maritime research in order to reach, engage and inspire children on the subject through game play.

The research project represent a vast collection of data to the inspiration of the game plot. As one of the maritime researchers put it: ”Our data collection have ranged from oceanographic and acoustics, to various studies on organisms that range in size from microscopic plankton to large whales. Dephts ranged from the surface to 3000 meters and extended from the cold-water environment south of Iceland to the tropic environment north of the Azores.” (mar-eco cruise journal 1. july, http://www.mar-eco.no/)

Good games combine a number of complex elements such as situations, where decisions must be made, challenging goals and a satifying feedback. Without these basic elements a game will easily become boring. The result must be that the way the gamers interact with the game, the game process, is parallel with what the game is about. (almost-quotes from “Learning to play to learn” by Nick Fortugno and Eric Zimmerman, Learning Lab Newsletter)”

I’m so pleased that this is going on at my department! And oh what fun it would be to be a part of it!!! Anyways….they’re still at the starting line and I just wanted to wish them good luck! I just love the combo of museum, art, information communication and learning through gameplay!!

Yay!!!! Machinima!!!!

I was honoured by receiving this link to a really unique Machinima film yesterday that basically challenged my definition of Machinima! Don’t you just love definition challenges?! Anyways…it’s really cool and the effects are astounding!
It’s by Anders Adler Simonsen (why yes! That is a Norwegian name – wooo hooo!!) who writes:

“Machinima made with the modified video of the Playstation1 game Driver2. The game had an in-game editor where camera angles could be adjusted on the previously recorded game play.
The video signal has later been put through a fuzzbox originally used for guitars and synchronized with a feedbacked organ. Music made in collaboration with Ola Andersbakken.”

What an unique, experimental and adventurous mind! So please enjoy, Fuzz!

Battleship:GoogleEarth


This is a very novel and great idea! Julian Bleecker, a Research Fellow at the Annenberg Center for Communication has come up with this game by using Google Earth as “a platform for realtime mobile gaming”:

“The mechanic I’m experimenting with is simpler. One person places their ships
using Google Earth and the other person goes out in the normal world with a
mobile phone, a GPS connected to the mobile phone. The phone has a small Python
script on it that reads the GPS and sends the data to the game engine, which
then updates the Google Earth KML model showing the current state of the game
grid. When the player who’s trying to sink the ships wants to try for a hit,
they call into the game engine and say “drop”. The game reads back the
coordinates at which the “peg” was dropped and shortly thereafter, the other
player will see the peg appear at the coordinate it was dropped. If the peg hits
one of the ships, it’s a Hit, otherwise it’s a miss. ”

I don’t see myself putting up the effort, though. But I have to say…the ideas are just blossoming in my head on something I might actually want to do! I’m thinking games that may take a while though!
Yeah…I would know absolutely nothing interesting if it wasn’t for Mark Wallace.

Oooh…and this might not be the right place to write about this – but you REALLY should check out the Project Good Luck blog! It’s a bunch of MIT students who are on a trip to explore “social networks and their intersection with mobile media” in CHINA(I’m so freakin envious)!! I emphasise ‘really’ because I haven’t been in for a look since Henry Jenkins mentioned it (trying to be selective on my subscription feeds)….and they’ve really done a lot of cool stuff since then!!! Very enjoyable and EXTREMELY interesting!!!

2006 Machinima Festival

Clickable Culture reports that The Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences (AMAS) are now calling for entries (start accepting from July 24th).

So is anyone in Norway going to contribute?! I would love to know if there is someone actively making machinima here in Norway!

The festival is on November 4 and 5, 2006 at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York!!! This is yet another thing I’d love to go to if I had a million dollars!!!! Or maybe I should follow my fellow media brethren and focus on a career in journalism?

Brain vacation

So, my blogging isn’t what it used to be, I think my brain’s gone on a little vacation without me (easily distracted by such events as Sting being in town and well…work). So I STILL haven’t gotten around to concluding my thoughts on narratology vs ludology!!!! It’s at the tip of my tongue (or fingertips) and I’m hoping that I’ll get most of it done at uni today after work! I am soooooooo looking forward to concluding my thoughts on the subject, which I’m sure will never ever ever be completely substantial and confident – but I need to draw the line somewhere at sometime, right?!!! But first lots of interesting tidbits to blog about – so excuse the rushed thoughts and cut’n’paste mentality! A lot I need to get off my chest and I feel like I’m about to explode!

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!!

The Sultan’s Elephant

Just look at this magnificent beast in the streets of London!!!! The Sultan’s Elephant!!! The Sultan’s Elephant, you ask? Well…first off, it’s a story by Jules Verne – which I know you’ll enjoy!!!

“The belly of the elephant and the engine room now more closely resembled a
psychiatric hospital. This hampered their progress enormously. Addressing the
sultan, the captain said the protentous word: ‘Ballast’.

As a capable Time traveller, he had understood that the unconscious or
delirious passengers would gradually slow the machine to a stop. The outlandish
vessel depended on practical theory: in short they must divest themselves of the
sleep-walkers.”

I don’t want to give away too much of the story – it will be worth your while! So anyways…yeah…the elephant is the Sultan’s time machine and they’re trying to catch another timetraveller, ‘this little girl’!

 

I don’t know if we can even call these enormous things puppets – but I guess that’s what they are. They were made to comemorate the centenary of Jules Verne’s death by Royal De Luxe, an’ extraordinary’ European street theatre company. On May 4th they were in London and the event lasted for 3 days – for….that’s how long it takes to tell the story!

Maybe I’ve been too enthralled by narratology lately and I just get way too emotional when such a lovely spirit of adventure, fantasy and

imagination is made available for ALL people to enjoy – inclusive art, if you will. I mean…can you imagine this story being told in magnificant LONDON?!!

I don’t know how this passed me by, because I truely would have loved to see this in London! It’s just sooooo beautiful!!! But they’re doing Calais on September 28th and I’ve already been in touch with my favourite travel agent! Let me know if you’re tempted to come along!

Oooh…and look…it’s now been in Belgium according to Dagens Næringsliv! I wonder….they’re too big for Bergen aren’t they?