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A Retirement

As I continued to play Clan Lord last year, I became a regular fixture on hunts arranged by perhaps the strongest player in the game, Mujin Kun. She had been playing almost since the inception, and could usually be found somewhere in the lands for at least eight hours a day, if not more. That devotion and consequent strength allowed her to lead groups into the hardest areas, which in turn allowed both the fighters and healers she brought along to advance quite quickly themselves. The person behind Mujin was able to maintain this intense focus on the game because he worked at business run by his family, in a position that allowed him to play during working hours, on top of the time he took outside of work.

In late August though, we learned that Mujin would be retiring, because her clicker’s family was selling the business, and the clicker behind Mujin would be obliged to find a new job. Since starting his that job, Mujin has rarely appeared, except in off hours, very briefly.

This posed a challenge for those who had hunted with her. Some areas became, if not impossible to visit, at least impossible to visit within the two-hour hunt Mujin ran. Without her strength, group had to move much more slowly. There were several other fighters who had grown strong under Mujin’s command, and if they all came, we could still get to those areas, at least sometimes. Howvever, Mujin’s retirement had a wider impact than just on our hunting group. Because Mujin was in-game so constantly, there were always some fighters and healers around as well. People checking to see who was online, would always find someone, which would make them more inclined to sign in and see about organizing something. Without Mujin, the population will far more often drop to one or two, and that rarely attracts others in to play.

On top of these effects, people miss her. Mujin had blunt sense of humor, was self-serving, but sometimes surprisingly kind. She often took pains to make sure i could join the group, even when my character was tiresomely weak, and she would have to wait and wait as I tried to hit some creature that was so strong, my only hope was mere luck. Her absence has cast a pall over the community, though people don’t often speak of it. No one wants to suggest that her loss may prove fatal, because that can easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy, but there is quite worry.


Obviously I did not manage to keep up momentum, since I last wrote in February. The last year proved extraordinarily difficult on the personal front, for a number of reasons I’ll not discuss here.

During that time I was completely unable to write, and barely able to read anything that required even a little mental effort. It was rather strange, because starting in the spring, there were a number of material improvements to my circumstances, and in fact during the summer I did accomplish a certain amount in non-academic areas. However, I discovered some things about my own working habits, in particular, my need for solitude, for any sustained or focused thinking/writing. Unfortunately, solitude has been in very short supply.

My current goal is simply to figure out a workspace that has free wifi and free solitude. That is to say, I can’t afford to rent some additional space. Like never before, Woolf’s talk of the need for a room of one’s own makes sense to me.

In the mean time, I have a few posts that having buzzing around my brain for awhile, and I’ll try to wrestle them onto the screen.

Trying to Keep up Momentum

Have read and commented on one book, I’ve tried to keep going in spite of discovering that parenting full time really is a full time job.  I’m reading Synthetic Worlds by Castronova.  So far quite interesting, and again I find reading work by another gamer really influences my reception in interesting ways.  More on that eventually.  😛

I have also been trying to maintain my participation in ClanLord, for a number of reasons.  I love playing, so that’s one.  Of course it’s research, so that’s another.  But perhaps what motivates me most is realizing that I’ve come to have an important role in the community as someone who sometimes formally organizes hunts, but also tends to provoke more spontaneous hunts as well.  In a community as small as Clan Lords, this is important.  My being online sometimes means one or two or even for more people are on to hunt, and once on they may get drown into subsequent hunts and start forming friendships with people they don’t normally join. During times when I’ve been unable to hunt much because of commitments “OOC” –out of character– I sometimes have noticed a drop in the population of more than just my own absence.  I see this when other regular players are away as well.

Some players seem to act as nodes around which hunts arise.  I hadn’t planned to become one of these, but I’m not entirely surprised.  I am often the one that ends up organizing a coffee hour or some other regular set of meetings for people who share some interest or other.  This has got me thinking about the role each player has in the community.  Because the community is small, these are usually quite distinctive roles, as players become established, stronger, and better known by everyone else.

So I’m thinking about that as I read everything else, to see what others make of that aspect as they discuss MMO culture.

Easing back in..

I finally feel like reading and writing again.  After the stresses of last year, I was seriously burnt out, and ever since have shied away from my research, at least from reading and writing.  I’ve been very absorbed in Clan Lord and some other games, and that’s not without benefit (researchwise) but I was feeling a bit worried about my lack of motivation toward academic production.

Happily, the game studies books I got for Christmas motivated me to read and that is motivating me to write. I do feel that my perspective is much richer now that I’ve been playing CL for almost two years.  Plus my character has become pretty well-respected, which certainly helps my research as well, when it comes to interviewing other players.  And my kids have started playing–2 girls aged 8 and 8.5.  They are really enjoying themselves, and other players are spoiling them rotten sometimes.  🙂  I find playing with them fun, but also frustrating, because they still don’t really listen very well!  But I look forward to how it will all develop.

Now… more reading.

It’s funny, my last post was about how much writing I was doing…

And then school ended, and the kids were home! writing went out the window…

I spent the summer visting with friends, relations, and other loved ones, and playing Clan Lord.  I’m still collecting information on that, and learning more and more about both the community and the game itself.

Tomorrow not only is everyone back in school, but we won’t have house guests either.  Maybe I’ll finally be able to put some ideas down in words that mostly make sense!

Teaching with Blogs

There are many reasons I use blogs for teaching and encourage others to use them as well. I’ll elaborate further soon, but here is a prezi I’m using for a talk tomorrow:

Upcoming Conferences

I have two conferences in the next few weeks, the RSA Security conference, in San Francisco, and CCCC, in Louisville, KY.  I’m not actually going in person to CCCC, because again, can’t afford to travel…no travel funding from my school for anyone this year…  Ideally I’ll video-skype in and talk over my slides that I’ll have sent ahead, but if that won’t work, then the panel organizer, Pam Chisum, will give my talk.  She’s a former MA student of mine and now is just starting her dissertation work up at Washington State University.

That talk will be about Twitter, and is a slightly more developed version of the talk I ended up not giving at MiT06 last spring (lousy economy!), about Ethereal Archives.  I’ll be adding a bit about the impact of some recent changes to Twitter, and of the more sophisticated Twitter clients.

The RSA panel is a little different (and apparently it’s “hot!”).  We are putting on two skits about the foolishness of trying to bar employees from social networking sites in order to preclude time-wasting.  It’s foolish for two reasons: first, many people who are even a little tech savvy can figure out how to get around whatever firewall or other barriers, which can create security risks. Second, as has been demonstrated by any number of PEW internet studies, and more formally argued by Clay Shirky, tapping our social networks and/or “the crowd” actually increases productivity and efficiency.  Hopefully there will be time to introduce some of that evidence because it’s not clear to me how much industry folk are aware of this research that might be highly relevant for them.

Teaching loads and research.

Research came grinding to a halt this fall because not only did I have more classes, they were also all over-enrolled and my teaching assignment changed two weeks before classes started when my university laid off most of the adjunct faculty and cancelled a bunch of courses.  Thank you ongoing state budget crisis.

This month I am not teaching, so we’ll see what I can do before the spring term is upon me.

Arse Elektronika 2009

I gave a talk this year, along with my co-panelist Pepper Mint. It went very well and was I think pretty informative for the audience, though of course some said, oh, we all know this already.  –It was about how technology and the internet have been intertwined with the emergence of a polyamorous community, which represents a very interesting example of tech enabled identity formation and community creation.

Anyway, the talk was good and I had the chance to see a number of friends I see only rarely, including Pep, but also Johannes Grenzfurthner from Monochrom, Aaron Muszalski, and Susan Mernit, to name a few. The conference was spread out over four days and I saw regrettably little.  I had hoped to see more panels on Saturday, but got hung up on the BART in commuter traffic for the Lovefest.  Honestly, it could have been called “Hot Topic Fest” based on the appearance of the attendees I saw…

I’ll post links too our talk and to archival stuff when Monochrom puts it up.