Do you or have you played MUDs?

Maren and I are giving a presentation on computer games for librarians next week “Bibliotekdagene i Bergen”.

LambdaMOO mapWe’re both super honored to be asked – as we both consider librarians to be the coolest professionals around. We worked on our outline last weekend and I’m very excited. I think we’ve come up with a presentation recipe that’s going to be a big success. I’m worried that we’re cramming too much in, but I have faith that our structure will allow for it. So we’ll be talking a little about the history of computer games from hacker culture to consumer culture. We both felt it was important for us to focus a bit on computer game genre and all that it entails. And the icing will be a bit of fan culture. I’ll translate and share here later.

But for now I’m in need of some help. I want to at least briefly touch on the subject of MUDs to MMORPGs – text based worlds to graphical worlds. And I want some good text avatars. I thought I had several but after tearing my bookshelf apart (yes – I have no order) I can only find one, which is that of Mr. Bungle in LambdaMOO: ” a fat, oleaginous, Bisquick-faced clown dressed in cum – stained harlequin garb and girdled with a mistletoe-and-hemlock belt whose buckle bore the quaint inscription “KISS ME UNDER THIS, BITCH”. And I’m thinking …. nawww … there must be something a little nicer. I want colorful definitely, but not this grim and dirty. So I’m asking – do you know of any text avatars I can use? Do you have a favorite? I would also love some good room descriptions and any fond memories you have!

And while we’re on the subject. Do you know of any MUDs/MOOs still alive? I ask because I have a sneaky feeling that text based games are on their way back. Just looking at Causal Gameplay Design Competition.

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My thesis

So I finally registrered my masters thesis in the University of Bergen’s archives. I’ve spent the last two years meaning to dig it up and edit and tripple check references, but the will-power just was not there.

As for this blog? It’s not dead just yet – I’ve got several posts just waiting for a read-through to be posted – so I’m not ready to cut it off just yet. But no new posts since november? That’s tragic!

My enthusiasm is very focused on my glorious new job at the moment – but I’m noticing that there’s a lot of what I’m doing which can be combined with what this blog is about, I’m just not on certain enough ground to write about it yet. I will, though! ;)

Aesthetics?

Yesterday UiB hosted the “New Aesthetic Technologies Conference”, which I really would have loved to attend! Firstly because I really want to know what my (?) university department thinks about aesthetics and new media – because I’m not sure I know. Two years ago (good golly – has it been that long?) – the brilliant Rune Klevjer put together a conference called “The Aesthetics of Play” – it’s just such an excellent title, don’t you think?
Look what I found!!

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State of Play Conference

It was fun!
The conference started off with a bang. We got to see Glenn Thomas’ “Ideal World. A Virtual Life Documentary” – which is brilliant (Glenn’s also a super dooper, charming and smart man, by the way!). He’s really managed to get the full compass of The Second Life story into it and I applaud him for it!
The panels were exciting and from vast disciplines – which I thought was great! Some of the conference delegates (220 attending) had some amazing questions to the panels, which brought some great insight and discussion. I’m not too comfortable writing in detail here, as I’m in the middle of writing other articles for a serious publication. I’m not used to all this journalism thinking and I’m not sure what’s allowed and not in duplication matters on my own personal blog. So let me tread lightly till stuff gets published.
I’ve met some truly amazing people which I hope to keep in touch with. Lots of bright and colorful minds were present and I felt so privileged to meet them. All shall be mentioned when I dwell deeper into stuff here.
I found being a ‘journalist’ quite hard, however. Finding stuff that was news worthy for ‘regular people’ was challenging, which is why we’re holding off publication till it’s all in a lovely understandable package. It’s also quite hard finding the correct Norwegian words for stuff – any Norwegian readers out there willing to have a go at ‘in-world’? It’s such a great way to pinpoint what you’re trying to describe, “they met in-world”, “in-world business transaction”, I just can’t seem to find the right Norwegian wording for it. I have also found a great appreciation for the word ‘business’ in English. I think we have about alternatives in Norwegian and I find none of the satisfactory! Speaking of which, I need to get back to work.

Singapore

Firstly – CNN launched it’s Future Summit: Virtual worlds today.

“Originating from Singapore and Palo Alto, California, the program features creative visionaries and entrepreneurs leading us into a new age of creativity and imagination.”

Impressive list of panelists really. I don’t even know who to list here – but it’s a good mix of social networking sites experts and designers and MMORPG experts and designers. I’m really going to enjoy following this!

So speaking of Singapore – I just got my ticket for 16 August. My apartment’s getting renovated 20 August by my landlords and my adorable father thought it would be a good idea for me to visit him instead of crashing on a friend’s floor. Not a hell of a lot of protest from me! It will be good to get away and have a vacation – there’s so much I didn’t get to do last time around. Besides, I miss him – chillin’ out with dad is always delightful.

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Virtual World Studies

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for about a year now, but for some reason I never got around to it. The idea resurrected after a conversation with a dear friend, where I was reminded of my frustrations when writing my thesis. I was dangling my feet in so many waters that it was no wonder I had a hard time keeping my head above water, and looking back I’m kinda annoyed that nobody bothered telling me that I didn’t have to learn to swim in each water, I just needed to focus on being a good swimmer in one water. Urgh – me and analogies – not a good combo, huh? Either way, I wish I could have just been reminded that it was JUST a Media Studies Masters thesis – I didn’t have to completely understand the law, psychology, sociology, anthropology, narratology and ALL the theoretical approaches to analysing virtual worlds. I remember sometimes thinking – “why didn’t I just focus on a film of some sort?!” – but I didn’t, because this is the world that fascinates me, this is the world that intrigues me. And I still think it is of the utmost relevance to study the evolution of these worlds.

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"Synthetic Worlds and Public Policy"

Ludium II at Indiana University will focus on what ‘synthetic worlds and public policy’ this year.Great!

I hope that a good and healthy array of people will be present. I, for example, would like to see some public policy enforcers present – see what they have to say on the subject. These are difficult questions – and the more diversity discussing them – the more I think they can come up with an adequate proposal. I cannot stress enough how dangerous it is to bring ‘actual’ laws into gaming worlds – and yet I do believe avatars have rights too. But should it be controlled by consumer laws?
I think it is in the best interests of the synthetic world makers to have adequate laws and procedures – but there are limits to the responsibilities that can be enforced on them. I also think that in such debates you cannot dismiss the dilemma of defining what is a gaming world and what is a virtual (synthetic) world.Either way, it looks like Castronova and his bunch have created a great Ludium in the best possible form this year again!

Ludium II will bring together experts on virtual worlds from academia, industry, and government to play a live-action political game leading to an extremely serious, timely, and important contribution: a consensus Platform of 10 Statements answering the question “What policies should real world governments have with regards to synthetic worlds?” The hope is that this Platform will provide answers when legislatures and administrators wonder what to do in response to the critical public issues that will be raised by these unique social technologies.

Good luck!!!

Bogost finds the words

Just stopping by to share this amazing quote by Bogost in Gamasutra’s ‘Are Games Art? “Here we go again.”

“Film can be used for deeply charged emotional expression, or it can be used to show you how to use the oxygen mask in case of cabin depressurization. If video games are indeed a medium, then they too will speak on different registers. “If you look at the world of ‘serious games,’ a lot of those titles are much closer to the airline safety video than to ‘Citizen Kane,'”Bogost adds. “And like film or TV or painting, there will be different modes of video game craft. There will be pop-art games and self-referential postmodern games and exploitative games and games made solely to cash in on intellectual property like Sponge Bob.”

Naw – I haven’t actually read it – but found the quote at Water Cooler Games and I’ve been thinking about it all day! So much so that I’m getting very distracted from work. But I suppose I knew that would happen eventually!

Help – stressed!! – updated!

Kjellvis found it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yay!!!!

Earlier today (this is a weird way of updating a post, huh?):

I’m at work which allows for near zero surf time – and I’m freaking out about my oral exam/defence of thesis and phd proposal deadline tomorrow. I don’t know how I’m going to get everything done by tomorrow when I actually have to work to pay the rent! Annoying!

But anyways – I’m looking for a video – which my stressed out googling skills just can’t find and would adore any help!

About a year ago (I think – time is such an demented factor) a video circled the web of some boys playing a game on their computer. It looked something like Battlefield – but I’m not sure. They were torturing the poor avatar soldier – crashing him against walls and making him fall off high buildings. Suddenly the door to the boy’s room is kicked in and the avatar gets his revenge. I’m sure I found the film at Kotaku – but I can’t seem to enter from this lovely computer.

So? Do you know what I’m talking about? Oh I will love you forever if you bother sending it to me!!!! Would be a tremendous help!!!

I suppose I should include some Valentine’s thing here as well, like everyone else – but today I reserve the right to be a bitter old fat hag! So there! Hehe! Who said I was in a bad mood?