This is the research diary of researcher Lisbeth
Klastrup, since february 2001 sharing her thoughts on life, universe, persistent online
worlds, games, interactive stories and internet oddities with you on the www.
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©Lisbeth Klastrup 2001-2007
30.5.07Fancy an Artist-in-Residency - in Second Life?
My Australian colleagues have always been pretty much on the forefront of digital media and I know that at least at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology), they have had practising in-house digital artists affiliated. Now the Australian Council for the Arts is offering a collaborative artist residency in Second Life! (as seen on the DIGRA mailinglist). I think it is the first strictly artist-in-residency-in-a-virtual-world I have come across: SECOND LIFE ARTIST RESIDENCY.
There is one precedent I know of though, thinking back: digital artist and writer Judy Malloy many years back (1993-1994!) as part of her artist-in-residency at Xerox PARC did three story-telling projects in Lambda-MOO [the first MOO - Mud Object-Oriented], and you can still read about them in her article: Narrative Structures in LambdaMOO. In the conclusion of the article, she writes:
The record of my tenure in this virtual space is not so different as the record of an out of town artist placing a work in a community, that to the community involved seems alien because either the artist has not adequately familiarized herself with the community that will endure this work for ever, or she has, but does not share the values of the community involved..
To her, then, it was difficult to integrate her work in the community and space of the world - which had much less inhabitants than SL. Will it be easier in SL? Or will the artist's work drown amidst professional art galleries in-world and a lot of other "hot" activities? I'll definitely be looking forward to reading about the Australian artists' experiences.
29.5.07"Girls dont wanna be spaceships": After the Nordic Game Conference
I've been meaning to write-up a brief summary of some of the interesting names, stats and comments I jotted down in my programme of the Nordic Game Conference 2007. It was held in Malmø on May 15-16th and I came there to give a talk there on death as part of the academic track (fyi, I've started to refer to myself as "travelling in death" - I do hope I'll be talking about something more lively soon ;)).
Anyway, here's what I noted:
Paulina Bozek: Singstar will launch online community, with sharing of lipsynced karaoke-videos and download of songs on the fly come this summer. Slides for show presented via the PS3 console, very slick. She talked about the web as "MyEverything". There are 2500 Singstar videos on Youtube. Lipsync videos very popular: example Numa Numa (discovered yesterday, Nik & Jay lipsync videos very popular amongst Danish youth). Flick users: 10% actively upload content, 90% of browsers, online communities need to appeal to both. Other EA community endeavours: Home, LittleBigPlanet, Virtual Me, Spore. Forrester Research: 84% of European youth owns a mobile. "Mass customisation". "Unbundling of content"
Nexon: Biggest Online Game provider. "Kart Rider" MOG: #1 in China. And "Maple Story" more than 50 mill users worldwide, 14 mill alone in South Korea (cf Gamasutra feature). They were actually the first who launched a modern graphic MMOG, 1996: Kingdom of the Winds. 68% of people under 15 years play "Kart Rider" in Korea. 6 of 10 people in Korea play online games more than 1 hour a week. Kart Rider in a year: 20 million virtual cars sold - in comparison Hyundai only sold 4 million "real" cars...
Aki Järvinen: games as "microworlds". Need to check out: Ortony et al: "The Cognitive Structure of Emotions" (1990). Darfur is Dying game. Games where players have to nurture and care for something a design space not yet fully explored.
Papermint - a cool german chatworld, where the world and avatars are all "paperdolls", small embedded games. Very complex way of showing avatar's emotions to each other, something with showing most used recent mood states above their head. "Games to dont have to look realistic to feel real". You can print and cut-out your avatar?!! Mint plants, the currency only lasts for 24 hours, players need to nurture if they want them to proliferate. Black and white mainly, colours for clothes only if they can get them off plants in the world. "We need games with more beautiful boys". Looked very cool, still in testing version.
Mark Olilla: 850 million Nokia Users worldwide. Currently only 5% download mobile games. Trying to boost buying of games, by introducing "try before buy" option, establish community, profile reviews etc etc.
Eve Online Keynote: now introducing human avatars. "Girls dont want to be spaceship" (we could have told you that long time ago...). 200.000 current subscribers, but 3 million people have tried the game. Their goal: to surpass the amount of citizens of Island, where game originates and is produced. So far 121.753 man years spent in Eve. They plan to launch weekly TV channel where users will provide content, telling about various events in the world, this is also one way for developers to keep updated when universe is as big as EVE's.
The Mustard Corporation is a UK-based gamescript writing company that surprisingly lives of creating storylines, NPC-dialogue and other "story" aspects for various games. The speaker had discovered WoW and LOTR online but had nothing intelligent to say about them, one good example of someone that would in fact have given a much better talk, if he had taken a little time to study the research in the field.
Round and round and round it goes
Im going to the annual Reboot conference later this week, for the first time in my case. Earlier today I made a profile on the conference website and started marking the talks I'd like to go to, for other delegates to see on my profile and to appear as "attending the talk" on the page for the talk (nifty feature, btw). One of the talks I marked was the one about The web everywhere: $10 paperbacks, $50 phones, $100 laptops and $250 game consoles, because it sounded fun.
Later today I checked out Torill's weblog. The most recent post was about the death of a well-known Norwegian Blogger and personality Tron Øgrim. I went to the memorial site for him and the top post was from someone called Håkon who cant attend the funeral because he's talking at Reboot. Checking out Håkon on Wikipedia, I discover he's the chief technology officer at Opera and was the guy who proposed the CSS format (excuse me my ignorance..(. I'd better go to his talk at Reboot then, I thought. Checked out the name at Reboot and discovered I had already marked the talk, namely that of "The web everywhere:" etc.
Meanwhile, many of the people I discovered were going to Reboot too, have said yes to be my "contact" in the social software system of the conference. It is incidentally the same people that I met last year at Blogforum, that showed up at the reception for Trine-Maria's and Thomas' (the instigator of Reboot) book...on blogs, and whom I link with and to on Kommunikationsforum, Linkedin and whom I socialise with in the context of the DONA organisation. They are all brilliant people but sometimes I get the impression that the Danish - yes perhaps even Scandinavian - social software/blogger/online communication in theory and practice cluster is a somewhat densely linked network...
Anyway, I look forward to seing people (again) at Reboot, listing to Mr. Lie and hopefully meeting a lot of new people too at the venue - which should be possible since more than 400 have registrered!
A morning with SAS..
I wanted to book an Eurobonus trip for a trip within Europe this fall.
I tried online several times before but was told I needed to book on the phone. Today, online booking worked, but no trips were available unless I fly Business class, which I cant understand because it's a fairly popular city Im flying to and there are almost 4 months left to my departure.
So I decided to try booking my trip via the phone:
4 calls to the Eurobonus service, each time I was disconnected after the initial automated response.
2 calls to the SAS general customer service, through which I the second time got through to the Eurobonus service and then were guided through an automated voice response system which was supposed to lead to a living person I could talk to. Once I got so far, the line gave me the busy signal and I had to hang up.
One more call to the Eurobonus service number. This time I got through to the point where I were supposed to be able to talk to someone. Then I was told the waiting time to get through to this person was 17 minutes.
"You are now number 50 in the queue".
Then I hung up, voluntarily.
Thank you for your brilliant service SAS.
Time spent NOT booking a trip - roughly 40 minutes.
24.5.07If your "højskole" was a movie..- it would be on YouTube.
By chance, I just spotted that the Danish Association of "People's Folk Schools" (the Danish phenomena of "folkehøjskoler") has launched a "user-generated content" marketing campaign, in which they ask folkehøjskole-students to to make a movie about a day in the life of a Folkehøjskole. The interesting part of the competition is that they ask people to post their contributions directly to YouTube using a number of tags defined in the competition announcement. Following, contestants simply participate in the competition by sending a link to the movie to the competition organisers (it is possible, though, just to send the movie directly to the organisers if they dont want to post it on YouTube).
What a brilliant move - even if the movies are not that good, there are likely to be a lot of them around on YouTube, and the number of "højskole"-tags will automatically grow and become more visible on the site - and all this without those hosting the competition having to do any work themselves. - Hmmh, question is whether potential folkehøjskole students will naturally search for information about the folkehøjskoler on Youtube - but of course they will go there if led there via the folkehøjskoler-homepage. Will all marketing targeted mainly at youth and young adults include a YouTube (or similar service) component in the future, I wonder?
23.5.07The Dynamite surfing video, true or false?
A colleague alerted me to this YouTube video of Dynamite surfing, downtown Copenhagen. The video shows a guy surfing on the waves created by throwing dynamite into one of the shallow artificial lakes close to the center of Copenhagen, Sortedamssøen. The interesting thing is not the video itself (which is amusing, especially if you know the place), but the intense discussions of whether it is a fake or not. Pretty detailed comments that try to point out exactly why you can tell it is a fake. A good example of the so-called "collective intelligence" at work?
14.5.07The Blooker Price announced today - and first Danish blook coming out tomorrow
It was a journalist that this weekend alerted me to the: Blooker Blog, where the shortlisted blooks for this year's runners-up for the Blooker price are currently listed. The winners should be announced on the site later today (US time, I presume?). What is the blooker price then? It is a price given to the best print book published, that started as a blog or web comics. Categories are: fiction, non-fiction and comics. There are in fact quite a few books on the shortlist, I had no idea there were so many blooks out there! (but only books written in English, sadly, someone should tell them to inaugurate a non-English blooks category for next year).
Reason why I was contacted by journalist, is that tomorrow the first Danish blook is published, by "Spacemermaid" who's been writing about her single/not-single/break-up/in relationship/etc life in her Spacemermaid blog at the Urban blog community and over at Fyldepennen.dk (from 2004-2006 - her blog there no longer available??). She also got known in the Danish blogosphere when some anonymous person without much fantasy of (her?) own published posts copy-pasted directly from Spacemermaid's early posts over at TV2 blogs, and had a few moments of her own fame, before she got busted. That blog is down now, but you can still see Spacemermaid's posts on the matter, if you go a few months back. Oh, and looking at her blog now, I see she is now launching her own blog domain as part of the branding of the book.
Congratulations to Spacemermaid on getting the book out there, according to her own profile at Urban, she was actually offered her first opportunity of book publishing back in January 2006, so it's been coming a long time :). Having your writings published in a bound book still appear to be the official stamp of acknowledgement, blogs havent changed that yet!
9.5.07The New Map of Online Communities
I got it in mail today, from one of the WoW-guild members, and Jill has already bloggged the map in good quality, so take a look over at her place: A map of online communities. It's a comic style drawing of various "hot" and not so hot online communities, in relational sizes and position.
More game movies
For a long time, I've wanted to write an article about games turned into movies (sic! not the other way around). I was somewhat discouraged when I submitted my ideas for a game conference and it was turned down with reviews that basically went "we've seen that before" (but that was a bad year for that conference in general ;)) - because to my knowledge I havent seen any academic articles on this particular aspect yet. Several articles exist which deal with movies made into games, but that's something completely different. Anyway, now a new publication opportunity is on the horisont so time to start gathering material again...:
Today, I read that Gears of War is being turned into a movie, with the rights obtained by New Line Cinema. In an article at Variety.com, the game producer states that:
"Epic developed an extensive backstory in hopes of utilizing it for a film as well as potential novels.
"We wanted to make an entertainment property that's not just for games but for other media," said Epic VP and co-founder Mark Rein.
which intrituingly points to the fact that some game developers apparently are beginning to think about their games in a transmedial context from the very beginning of the conception of the game. [with Susana Tosca, I have written on transmedial worlds a few years ago, if you want to learn more about our thoughts on this subject matter]
Interesting also that the article mentions that (World of) Warcraft is going to be a movie (by Legendary Pictures who bought the rights to the Warcraft series last year, and allegedly has informed journalists that "The movie will not follow any of the games but will be set in the same fantasy universe" - nevertheless can't wait to see the plot line for that (hey, the movie already has a page in the IMDB)! In addition, rights for "Metal Gear Solid" the movie obtained by Sony and "Hitman" the game is going into production by Fox these months.
3.5.07I have new Danish publication out
Just realised that I failed to mention that about 2 weeks ago, the National Cultural Heritage institution published a small book on Digital Communication to Children: "Digital Kulturformidling - Børn og forskere har ordet". [If you follow the link you are sent to a page where you can download a digital version of the book]. I have an article in the publication, about the "web 2.0" movement and the website www.kulturjagt.dk, which I evaluate. It was interesting writing the article, because I had to reflect on and invent my own criteria for evaluating a website from a "social media" perspective (couldnt find much literature on that). So perhaps others facing that task might find the article useful, even if they are looking at sites for grown-ups primarily. Unfortunately the article exists in Danish only.
Foreign researchers do not find Denmark attractive?!
Interesting to observe that according to this small piece of news in the paper Jyllandsposten only three researchers with a Ph.D. took a job in Denmark in 2006, whereas 130 Danish researchers left the country....I think the numbers speak for themselves.
- Btw, if you wonder if the Danish tax system is what keeps researchers from entering Denmark, immigrant researchers actually only have to pay 25% tax the first three years in Denmark, which is almost half of what the Danes have to pay. Also immigration itself is also somewhat easier, it is not that difficult to get a work permit as a researcher. So personally I dont believe these are the obstacles that keep researchers away. I rather think it is basic things like payment (not very negotiable, not exceptionally good) and time allotted to...research...
Hmmh, I should also note, that on the other hand, I believe what we could be better at "branding", apart from the brilliant Danish colleagues immigrant (or visiting) researchers would of course get ;), is the fact that Danish university students are bright, mature and engaged. That is at least what I often hear from international colleagues once they have been interacting with Danish students.
1.5.07New Danish blog /Ny dansk blog
Being the passionate blogger, I am, I have now started a Danish lanuguage blog at Kommunikationsforum, the place where a lot of people in the Danish Communication and Media business seem to hang out these days. I've been wanting to blog in Danish for a while now, without giving up this blog or giving up blogging in English here (stats show that most of the readers of this blog have IP's in North America or other places in the world), so I figured that I needed to start a new blog. Kommunikationsforum has done all the work for me, and has included a feature which allows blog posts from here to be directly imported to "there", if I want, so it doesnt need to be two different worlds either. So next to blogging here, I'll hang out, at least for a while, at K-forum, and see what happens.
618,978,656 is the number of times, characters on the European and North American servers have died in Lineage II since the game launched three years ago. In celebration of its three year anniversary, Lineage II has sent out a very interesting little newsletter with a lot of stats, including this death number. The statistics also reveal that even if 17 mill. people have tried the game worldwide, "only" 3,821,773 characters have been created on the European & North American servers. If that number holds true, a simple calculation tells me that each character has in average died around 161 times. Hmmh. But not quite unlikely.
This is great material for my death-stories project that Im still occasionally dabbling with - I'd love more game compagnies to reveal their "death toll" - if any readers have seen some, please let me know!
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Towards a Poetics of Virtual Worlds
I also used to host & work in a world called StoryMOO.