It’s abstract season again. That means I am forced to sum up current or future work on a single page, and somehow simplify months (or years) of ideas into one brief, coherent piece. A fellow virtual worlds researcher coined it nicely in one of his Facebook statuses:
“There should be a Hugo Award category for conference abstracts. It’s the most practiced genre of short-form science fiction. Or, in some cases, epic fantasy.” John Carter McKnight
I find it a very strange notion to write abstracts. When I propose work I have not completed (usually, not even started), it becomes a promise that is hard to live up to. As usual, the data material and analysis seem to take on a life of its own in the attempt of putting it down on paper, and what I want to produce is rarely what I end up making.
However, should we meet up at a conference sometime this summer/fall I am likely to talk about something related to these topics (or atleast my abstracts say I will):
a) Theorycraft as game-science
“The focus of my analysis will be the phenomenon known as theorycrafting. In line with the instrumental approach of the powergamer it frames play as goal oriented and effective (Taylor, 2006). It can be described a reverse-engineering of the game where the underlying mechanisms are revealed and used to calculate the optimized outcome of a play situation (Mortensen, 2010). The precise calculations can then mathematically prove how one approach is better than another, pushing play toward a standardization based on scientific principles. This knowledge is not without consequences and I will argue that it is in part a remaking of the game to one that is focused on numbers rather than storytelling, and on performance rather than experience.”
b) Localized player practices in casual, softcore and hardcore playergroups
“In this paper I will present three different player groups at different levels of progression in World of Warcraft (Blizzard 2004). By using the domestication framework I will show how they have developed localized ways of learning to play, in addition to different ways of organizing and performing the game. While working as a example of how the domestication framework can be used, it is also a comparative study of how different playergroups (casual, softcore and hardcore) within World of Warcraft have developed individualized player practices. “
c) Everyday life as shaping for player practices
“The boundary between the virtual and physical is constantly being transgressed and shifted (Taylor 2006), yet the physical context of play is often overlooked (Bryce et al. 2006). In this paper I will discuss how player practices are not only the result of the game mechanics and online community in which they are engaged. It is also the everyday context in which play happens.”
d) Between code and playerpractice. Case: Ensidiagate and The Treacherous Code
“Code can hold opposing meanings, as well as hidden ones creating a tension between rules, code and practice in games. Haraway’s cyborg thought us how these hybrids can be both treacherous and unfaithful (Haraway 1991), an aspect I wish to bring forth in this paper. To explore this feature I will present a case study from the game World of Warcraft. Coined by a blogger as “Ensidiagate”, the event refer to a temporary ban of the elite guild Ensidia recently after they announced their world first kill of the Lich King monster. The players claimed this was a misunderstanding of the code, not a deliberate attempt to cheat. “
Abstract season will end soon, and maybe I have become slightly wiser as to what my own work is actually about. Or maybe once again, it will turn into something else when I reshape and remake it to suit the conference format.
I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Presuming my abstracts is accepted of course.