Thursday, November 8, 2007

Back to SLSA -- Code Play panel

Ok, backing up to talk about what I think was actually the last panel I saw. Speaking were Dene Grigar, Jamie Bono, and, well, I'll get to that later. I'll go out of order...Dene spoke about an interactive kinesthetic system she and others are developing that creates a live game space that they are trying to use in a pedagogical way. The original system was used in dance clubs (and looked really fun for that). The presentation basically described the system, but I would have liked to hear more about how they had actually tried using it. At the end, even though Paweł tried to ask about what kinds of classes or material would work with the system or not, we still didn't get much more detail. I think though that while the right design the system's application beyond obvious subjects and categories, still some kinds of knowledge and classes work better as, say, discussions, or through textual exchanges.

Jamie argued that players who searched out and used cheat codes were little different from scholars who engaged in close reading and who used esoteric textual knowledge to glean further, new, and richer knowledge of the text. That's an interesting proposition and I wish Jamie had gone through just a few examples and really traced the parallels. But as often happens to people speaking about their dissertations, the details (of user behavior in this case) overwhelmed the larger structure some, which I think led to our grilling Jamie at the reception later, wanting further explication.

The most interesting point, I think is the relation between the game authors (!) and players. Clearly those creating the games do deliberately plant easter eggs, trapdoors, and so on, and they rely on gamers to find these hidden treasures and figure out how to exploit them. But more than that, the desire for gamer to play games that contain these kinds of elements have shaped game design--really I wish Mirko had heard this talk; it's right up his alley.

Finally the talk I thought would be most interesting, about how we exist in an info-cloud and where the borders between ourselves and others lie in the all of the communities in which we participate. Now this sounded like it fit right right in with my work, so I was really looking forward to it. Well, the speaker spent the first 20 minutes defining list after list of terms that were all just for background info. Then, in the last 5 minutes or so, he raced through about 20 more slides of what looked like the heart of the talk so quickly that I couldn't even read one word. And I read pretty fast. So I was completely irritated. Thanks goodness it was the last talk (except for Massumi) and I had the reception and pleasant conversation to help revive me.

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