So… as I posted last time, I will be speaking about how one might take an approach to studying an MMO fan community that achieves not just a balance between the critical stance of a scholar and the enthusiasm of a player, but some kind of integration of the two positions. Further, how might the voice of the community be part of that account in a more significant and participatory way than merely providing data and useful quotes?
This is even more challenging because my new job is seriously cutting into my playing time.
But I’ve taken a step in creating a blog that represents an in-character (IC) narrative of my life in the game. It’s a bit odd because I don’t usually worry about staying IC unless I’m hunting with others for whom I know that’s important. Further, in that blog I am writing about the relationships my character has with other characters; in some cases this is parallel by out-of-character (OOC) friendships, and in some cases not. Right now the line between fiction and reality has become ambiguous, when it comes to the relationships.
One of the most striking aspects of this particular game is the extent to which players are devoted to their characters. The explanations for this devotion include some that fairly straightforward and common to many games:
- simple time investment; in some cases as long as 12 years
- effort; time and energy may have been spent achieving certain goals, such as strengths in particular areas or abilities that are difficult to acquire
Other reasons are not as typical, such as the devotion to the community of other players. Within the larger player base, most players develop networks of people with whom they routinely hunt, and while these friendships may grow beyond the confines of the game, for those who are geographically distant from each other, the game may represent an important way in which they can “be together.”
The most interesting reason to me though, is the way characters become more and more individual over time, and become more and more real — meaning they form ongoing relationships with other characters, not only in the game, but through posts in the game’s forum, through individual “scrolls” (blogs) that players create, and in the websites made for clans — players that form cooperative groups that are somewhat familial in character and may share a common purpose. Some purposes are rather lofty while others are humorous, as can be seen in this description of the Laughing Academy. My own clan is the Zouclougeist Alliance, which is devoted to silliness and being lazy. I am very fond of ducks.
In order to further explore the emergence of these characters as individuals, I’ve started keeping a “scroll” for my character. Interesting her voice in the scroll is not the voice she uses in game — it’s far more in character (IC) and rather serious. I’m not sure why, it just comes out that way. More on that experiment later.
So I’ve been playing my first MMORPG ever, and surprise, have gotten a little addicted. But this one differs from most in being designed to require cooperation; it’s very difficult to play alone, and not as much fun. The game is Clan Lord, by Delta Tao; the first ever MMORPG designed for Macs.
It first appeared in 1998 and over ten years later is still going. It has a very small but intensely loyal user base. I’ve been playing about four months now and while I originally wanted to just play it for fun, the game and the community around it seem really unique. I might have to give in and write about it. 🙂
I’ll write in more detail soon but for now, a picture:
I am last in the line of fallen hunters being dragged back to town to be healed. I used to end most hunts this way, but it’s getting a little better now. 🙂
Here is the text of the speech with which I was honored for my creation of truly marvelous chaos:
I confess to aspiring for this award for several years and those of you who know me and have witnessed the temple of bureaucratic agglutination that I’ve created in L195D can bear out this aspiration. When Jim Payne popped in on me last week to discuss these awards, he mentioned the superior condition of my office, and I thought my position was secure.
But then we wandered around campus a bit, and we discovered a singular effort that puts to shame my own meager and sophomoric efforts.
Several distinguishing features clearly separate this office from the rest of the pack. The empty wrappers of food and water bottles. The stacks and scattered detritus of scholarly work and the assessment of student performance. The bag of drawings clearly encrusted with what appears to be mud.
This office represents the highest example of what we can achieve given the proper inspiration, and desire, and temperament, and equipment. What makes it so is not merely all of these details, but its comprehensive vision, its theory and practice of chaos so profound, so deeply and thoroughly considered, so assiduously studied and carefully elaborated in all its possibilities.
You may see this stunning effort in L195N. I am humbled, and I bow to its greater glory.
Please join me then in congratulating my colleague in English, and this year’s winner of the distinguished Desktop Structural Achievement Award, Dr. Kim De Vries.
I must thank Dr. Scott Davis for so generously allowing me to publish his speech. He did make a good effort, but I think was unwilling to sacrifice his own or his students’ ability to walk into his office! 😉
Katynka gave a really interesting talk about a project in which high school students made their own versions of the Pac Man game that reflected their own neighborhoods and experience. One was called El Imigrante in which Carlos Jesus Imigrante is pursued around town by minutemen. If they catch him he’s deported, if he wins he gets a green card.
In another game, neighborhood kids collect up loose change while being pursued by neighborhood drunks. If they collect enough, they can buy a toy, but if the bums get the change, they can go to the liquor store for beer.
I wish we’d had more time to talk about interpretations of the different games, and also how they engaged with games like the recent (and really racist) Border Patrol game. But it was a cools talk and it really resonated with what we know about the lives of our own students.
Also, that Border Patrol game is creepily similar to a game popular in Switzerland that Mirko reported recently. In that game, the object is to get rid of the black sheep–but the Border Patrol game is really much worse because (like in the Ethnic Cleansing game) you win by blowing away Mexicans, including women and children, and seeing the blood splatter. Sometimes I’m repelled that creativity and hatred seem not to be mutually exclusive which somehow I feel they should be. Not that this would make sense, but somehow just I think it’s the way things should work.