lisbeth AT
Klastrup family?

This is the research diary of Lisbeth Klastrup. Here I share some of my thoughts on life, universe, virtual worlds, interactive stories and internet oddities with you.

I'm a ph.d. scholar at DIAC at the IT University at Copenhagen (ITU). I also host & work in a world called StoryMOO. At this ITU homepage you can read more about my research project and miscellaneus activities. List of publications is here.

Current month

Fellow researchers
Jesper Juul
Susana Tosca
Troels Degn Johansson
Estrid Soerensen
Lars Konzack
Kenneth Hansen
Gabriel Hansen
Joergen Callesen
Soeren Pold

Jill Walker's blog
Torill Mortensen's blog
Ragnhild Tronstad
Hilde Corneliussen's blog
Carsten Jopp's blog
Anders Fagerjord's blog

Anna Gunder
Jenny Sunden
Mikael Jacobsson

Aki Jarvinen
Markku Eskelinen
Raine Koskimaa

-The World
Gonzalo Frasca's blog (URU, US)
Anja Rau's blog (DE)
Elin Sjursen's blog (NO, US)
Frank Schaap's blog (NL)
Adrian Miles' Vog blog (AUSTR.)
Mark Bernstein's blog (US.)

Related Reads
Tempus Tommy (NL, DK)
Dust from a Distant Sun (DK)
Texturl (US)
Two Years in Denmark (DK,US)
Future Dr. Karlsbjerg (DK)
Game Girl Advance (US)
GrumpyGirl (AUSTR.)
Shinyspinning (CAN)

©Lisbeth Klastrup 2002

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Digital Storytelling Association - News and Events has just launched a website for the recently established association. They have a section for News, Events and Feature Stories, which includes pieces from some of the members. Currently it includes text by known names like Brenda Laurel and Mark Bernstein. Oh, and Mark is writing about weblogs, and amongst others pointing to Torill and Jill's. :)

TIDSE 2003 a German conference on Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment to be held in March 2003 in Darmstadt. They want papers on "content" too, though, and have people like Michael Mateas, Jay David Bolter, Jason Rutter and Celia Pearce on the board of reviewers. Deadline for full paper submission (12 pages!) is December 15th.

Second Life by Linden Lab is another new world in the Beta-testing stage. You can sign up as beta-tester now. From what they say on the frontpage, it seems that it would be pretty much like Sims Online, just not built on a previously known game concept.
I wonder what is going to happen when all these new worlds hit the commercial market next year? How many will perish because no-one visits them? Is it a fad? Or are massive multiplayer worlds here to stay as an intrinsic part of our future gaming experiences?
....A poster on EdGames says: "Who's got time enough for one life, let alone a second?" Maybe that's the core problem, some of these world designers forget.

Via newsletter from IGDA, a little piece in Gamespot called:The Girl Gamer's Manifesto.

And here is a link to Danish colleague Kenneth Hansen's ph.d. thesis from 2001 on Virtual Culture (based on empirical studies in AlphaWorld). In Danish, alas.

Via Mark Bernstein: the bruno baldwin comic - interesting mix of mixed media comic and weblog.
And via Tinka, there is another interesting (traditional) comic here if you go to bottom of page. (in Danish).
And since Im looking at online comics today, I also remembered Scott McClouds Zot! online - there is a 16-week series online called Hearts and Minds online at the Comicbookresources site.

20.11.02 back in 1999 devoted an entire issue to the question of Research Methodology Online.

Did you know of this? BookHq which "compare Prices on New & Used Books, Textbooks & College Textbooks", 24 bookstores including Amazon in US and UK and Blackwells in UK. Not a bad place to start your comparisons :) - but not sure they get the paperback prices, though...

Shorthand Poetry
160 characters in search of an author - The Guardian's text message poetry competition. You can find some of the recent submissions here. Works better as concept than the "short stories" for mobile phones competition I once had a go in - never heard anything about it after that. There is an old post of it somewhere...

Quake meets real life....
Playing games with words - an article on how novelist Christopher Brookmyre was inspired by Quake for his book "A Big Boy Did It and Ran Away". So the BBC journalist beat me to it - I read the book this summer and have been wanting to write about it for some time ;)...He has these nifty "load game" scenes where he keeps loading "Real Life" with great dissatisfaction. But in the end, his mastering of the Quake levels helps take out the Bad Guys and all ends good, even Real Life. I quote (from beginning of book where protagonist thinks of his teaching job):

/set skill level nightmare
/set opponent_num=30
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Not this.
/Start new game
This will abort the game in progress. Are you sure?


Order to go is one of those small addictive Flash games, with a political incorrect agenda and a slightly ironic slant on Copenhagen Police culture. Help tidy up "bad guy" hang-outs in Copenhagen, "Ungdomshuset" and "Christiania", accompagnied by the voice of a policeman from Jutland yelling insults at you ;). Game designed as web-part of the Danish comedy series "P.I.S" (I will not explain that pun to non-native speakers!).

It has absolutely nothing to do with my research, but it is the second time in two days, I have come across:Independent Woman - played by kittens . It's one of those things that makes the net a worthwhile place to spend your hours of procrastination;)...

Elsinore Library's website aka Helsingør Kommunes Biblioteker has just won this year's Danish price for being Bedst på nettet (Best on the Net) in the category "Institutions of Culture". It actually looks like a pretty good site book-wise; serving as more than just a portal to reservation of books. More like those, please!

ELO 2002 Symposium - Featured Work: The Glide Project -looks interesting. Attempt to work with visual language as way of story-telling.

Some pictures from Gonzalo Frasca's visit at the IT University, Friday the 15th.

Sidenius i Esbjerg

A Danish article on thecommercial take on interactivity: "Opfør dig ordentligt - også interaktivt" in monthly e-letter from Biteconomy.

It is today that Gonzalo Frasca is presenting his paper Say it with a game: ludology, ideology and videogame rhetoric at the IT University (room 0.10, from 13-16). He is sitting in my office now, with a Mac Ibook, accessing the internet from a wireless connection I didnt even know we had at ITU! Small world...

Espen Aarseth has been interviewed for the Danish newspaper Politiken, who is running several articles on the "Hitman 2 and the Sikh-ban" story today. The article is called Computerspil bryder grænser (Computergames transgress borders) - and in the print version neatly links to at the end of the article. Espen draws attention to the fact that Hitman 2 is a game for grown-ups and that computergames as a genre is far from finishing their development. He thinks that online multiplayer games like Lineage where players can actually fight and kill each other will gain increasing popularity.

Via EdGames - a link to the official site for the Rock, Paper, Scissors society, announcing amongst other things the World Championship in RPS. It also includes a page with Advanced RPS strategies, including advice on "How to meet Girls with RPS". Now, _that_ is somewhat close to what I call nerdy ;)

Of course, there had to be a site like this on the net too:Christian Computer Games..... a safe play-ground . You can find Bible games there, amongst other things...

The Danish Online News Association (DONA) has apparently just sent out a newsletter with a Top 7 of weblogs, which includes both this blog and another friendly blog: Dust from a Distant Sun. I'm honoured :).
Other blogs mentioned are The Guardian Unlimited Weblog, Dan Gillmors ejournal, J.D.Lasica, Scripting News and BoingBoing.

So if you stop by courtesy of DONA news, welcome!

Frasca's (Blog) Travel Adventures
As Jill mentions, Gonzalo Frasca of will be visiting the IT University this Friday in room 0.10 (the big auditorium, entry through Glentevej 65, 2400 København) from 13-16.00. The title of his talk is: Say it with a game: ludology, ideology and videogame rhetoric . It will be great meeting him again, and since the department holds a digital camera, perhaps we should get some pics too!

OK, Blogger seemed to have fucked up my archives after my move and this doesnt help. It simply wont post the archives anywhere, though I provide the usual archive addresses. Argh! Any idea what's wrong?? Testing!!

The John Lennon Artificial Intelligence Project...

Many of the blogs in this cluster is mentioned amongst a lot of links on the list of Internet Research Periodicals at

The Ph.D. species
Jill recently anguished about finishing, Hilde is nervously waiting to hear something about her ph.d. Meanwhile, this guy accuses us for not writing understandibly (via Jesper). And this other guy has actually written a comic strip about graduate life (via Frank).
Yes, these three last years have definitely been full of ups and downs; being a ph.d. student is not just a job, but a lifestyle and way of thinking which easily permeates all aspects of life, for better for worse. Someone should write a book about us one day...;)

A good introduction to the concepts oftext and textuality written for an Australian course on Introduction to Multimedia.

There is actually some interesting stuff on how people perceive interactivity in this article:Citizen Perceptions of Online Interactivity and Implications for Political Campaign Communication.

Via The Games Network list, an interesting example of performance in game space: people performing an episode from "Friends" on a Quake server! : The Obsessive Mouse

Via EdGames, the possibility to test your game desing skill in a Game Design Competition with the simple rule: "design a great two-player game with simultaneous movement using pieces most people are likely to have around the house."
Deadline is December 31st, so you could for instance think it up during your christmas holiday ;)

Via konzack, the Virtual Performance Bibliography, which also lists the bibliography of chat communication, a good site with articles for which I had lost the URL.

Disposable Love - the rise and fall of a virtual pet. Article from the New Media & Society journal, this available online as pdf.

JonblOGG is a norwegian blog (in Norwegian) by Jon who is writing on the internet as narrative medium.

Now in Gamasutra An Interview with Gary Gygax about the transition from roleplaying games with pen and paper to massive multiplayer rpg with mouse and screen.

K. Parrish aka Squish has made a new blog on moo. Lots of useful links!

So, does playing Counterstrike really make children violent? Judge for yourself in this little digital video made by teenagers for a Danish 1-minute-short film contest on the topic on young people, IT and movies. Contestants are young people btw 14-25, and all is part of the Netdays initiative.

Post Mortem - a classic dectective mystery game which looks just up my alley. In production. The compagny also made Syberia, which is available now and gets good review in Politiken.

I have set up a little page with Mobility, Mobile Games and Surveillance Stuff for use in our department. Links most welcome.

OK, here is an new example of games as spectator sport. Oddly fascinating. So you think you can play Tetris? (Note, big mpeg file!)

Virtuelle Realitäten is a German anthology on virtual worlds, primarily from a psychological perspective. Sonja Utz, whose name I haven't come across before, has written an article for this on "Identity and Interaction in virtual communities" (in German) and another article for another new book Online Social Sciences, called "Forms of Research in MUDs". Would be interesting to look at, but she has no publications online, and the books seems a bit too expensive to buy just for that :(. Typical problem - but would be nice with more articles on specific research methodology for virtual worlds (and in English, preferably! ;)).

Group Sikhs to ban Hitman 2 - well, apparently there are many ways that Denmark can make itself publicly known...Eidos, the Danish-based compagny which produced Hitman2 is being accused of portraying Sikhs in a racist way and linking them to terrorism. Sikhs demands that the game be recalled.
//Update Thursday: actually Eidos is an international game publishing compagny, it is IO Interative which developped Hitman I and II which is Danish. And basically it is Eidos which is targeted by the Sikhs, so no need to be paranoid, this time//

Lynks Cables UK sells cables which should make it possible for me to finally connect my Revo (which only came with a com/serial port) to my wonderful laptop which only came with USB ports. Sigh...

Mobile Game Phone from Nokia is in the news today. Apparently Nokia is taking arms against Nintendo's Gameboy.

Everquest fantasy offers real rewards - another story on EQ at the BBC site.

For my chapter on performance in virtual worlds, i should have gotten hold of this long time ago:Theatre in Cyberspace.
I notice that one of the chapters is on the Kafka-space in AtheMOO - a virtual world built with the purpose of exploring performance and theatre in cyberspace. They have done some interesting things inside AtheMOO, but unfortunately the world seems to have gone "dead": I keep receiving "updates" telling me that they are "now" celebrating AtheMOOs 5 years birthday. Problem is the 5 year anniversary was in 2001. Anyone knows what happened?

The IT-University as the 12th University!
Lots of happy exitement at the IT-University today, as it was announced that, as a part of a new constitution for the Danish Universities, the government has recommended that we now officially be recognised as the 12th official University in Denmark. This recommendation is the result of a very positive external evaluation, which acknowledges the very high level of teaching and research taking place at the institution.
To non-Danes which are used to read about us as the IT University, this might not seem very significant, but on Danish grounds where we are normally referred to as the "IT-højskole" (the IT School, more or less), it makes a lot of difference. Also being recognised as an independant university means that we will no longer formally be connected to the Copenhagen Business School, which might be an advantage sometimes. So a joyous day indeed, especially for one like me who has been here almost from Day 1.
IT-højskolen bliver Danmarks 12. universitet

Non-linear narratives in Copenhagen
The Danish Film House is showing an Alain Resnais series during the month of November. It presents an unique opportunity to watch almost all of this "new wave" literary-oriented director's films, including his most well-known films "Last Year in Marienbad" (script by Alain Robbe-Grillet) and "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" (based on Margurite Duras' novel). Some of the other films have never been screened in Denmark before, and I look forward to watching "Mon oncle d'Amérique"(which actually stars Gerard Depardieu before he turned into an oeuf) and Je t'aime, Je t'aime (about being stuck in time).
If you are into the so-called "non-linear" narratives and nouvelle vague film, Resnais is a must. He might not be easily accessible, but he is definitely interesting. And one of those film auteurs, Gilles Deleuze discusses at length in his "Cinema: Temps" book.

En kåbe af sproglig elastic / A Robe of Linguistic Rubberband
Note! A post for Danish readers only...
...Kender I det? At man nogen gange går ud af en boghandel med en helt anden bog, end den man gik ind for at købe? Det skete for mig igår, hvor jeg pludselig fandt mig selv i besiddelse af et lille skrift med titlen "En kåbe af sproglig elastik 2". Skriftet består af (desværre anonyme) ordrette citater fra debatterne i Folketinget, gladeligt noteret af folk fra Folketingstidende - og jeg har grint lige siden.- Jeg lader nogle af perlerne stå et øjeblik, her på vej hjem fredag eftermiddag... Go' weekend :)

"Hvis man vil citere mig for noget, jeg ikke har sagt, vil jeg sætte pris på, at man citerer mig korrekt."

"Jeg bøjer min hat i respekt for de lærde folk."

"Vi kan ikke leve med, at tiden bare går".

"Så skal vi være der som et søm i et bræt."

"Jeg ved lige nøjagtig hvordan man skal sætte ind og sikre, at skoen klemmer så eftertrykkeligt, at den bliver nødt til at lytte til, hvad folket siger."

Blogger types
kuro5shin has a reasonably precise list of Blogger Types, supplied by Frank's description of the Research Blogger (the reblogger), which is close to the point apart from the fact that that there are some of us rapidly moving away from the big 30 in the wrong direction! (But mostly a Scandinavian thing, I think, due to the fact that we can actually afford spending a lot of time studying before we get to the Ph.D. level...)

This news flash is the only one I can find which lists theFive Rules of Virtuality, Steve Woolgar et al discusses in the new book from OUP on "Virtual Society? - technology, cyberbole, reality".

Hmmh. Interesting development at the site where you can solve imaginary murder mysteries. Now they are offering access (for the paid members) to surveillance videos - latest mail from them boasts a surveillance video showing suspects using victims credit card! They also offer (paid) access to telephone records, police interviews and so forth as part of the investigation. And of course there are prices to those who pinpoint the right "whodunit". Someone outthere must spend A LOT of time putting this show on!

A intro/leaflet to New Zealand Desk Top Theatre (live performance in Palace Chat environment?) - and related site here: And Adriane Jeniks site about Desk Top Theatre is here.
And there was the

A little paper on Fun and Games from Sweden

And something completely different: today Lars von Trier publicly announces his new rules for Dogumentarism - the "dogme-way" of making a documentary. Rumour has it that six Danish documentary makers has accepted to try and make a documentary following the rules.

In the summer 2002 issue ofThe Journal of New Media and Culture, there is an article on Hypertext Rhetoric: Studies for an Online Literary Text Theory, which seems to dig seriously deep into traditional rhetorics in order to study the reading of hypertext. Might be worth a look.

The Keep - Ye Source for the Abandoned Ones a placeholder for old games, including computer version of board games, rpg, adventure etc.

I was in the Gogolchat (a netart project at when Gogol suddenly linked to this blog(solipsis) //:phaneronoemikon. Here I found a link to an icelandic project called Looking for the new universal harmony", based on the user's universal IP number. The music is cool, even if interactivity in fact is low.

Some of the slides from a lecture series on Kultur og æstetik i den digitale tidsalder (Culture and Aesthetics in the Digital Age) this Spring. Still need to upload mine, ups! Søren Pold's slides from 03.04 has some good links to various e-litt and e-art sites on the net.

Via the Air-List a list of game pages, collected for "a class on game technology, policy and social issues". (Actually, wanted to post this several days ago, but Blogger wouldn't let me :()

The Danish newspaper Politiken is once again running a daily comic strip Strid (UK=to be a roughneck??), a personal favourite because of its anarchistic absurdity. You can read Strid too, one week at a time (but a few days later than in the print paper), if you go to the Politiken site, scroll down and click on the Strid-icon on the right side of the menu.
Lately, in the series, Strid has been trying to bomb the prime minister with the aid of the chief editor of Poltiken because Strid's dog is so depressed over our current prime minister...(sic!;))

By way of Distant Sun The Socrates Argument Clinic, the ideal Friday pastime.

Peace in a game world
dP - t i n y . s i g n s . o f . h o p e. On this website you can find small "Peace objects" to port into your Sims world so you can signal your "war resistance". Interesting initiative - wish the Sims online were online, so one could flaunt them there...

A worthy initiative! An entire bundle of articles on Internet Research Ethics, with Dag Elgesem and Amy Bruckman as some of the authors. I suspect that if you want to cover internet ethics in your teaching, making the students read these essays should pretty much cover the state of the discussion.

And another intriguing story:Lethal guinea pig kills virtual people - implementing realistic effects of a guinea pig bite apparently caused some Sims to die and made players rage against the compagny which eventually changed the pig code...

Epic wait ends for gaming heroes - a little article on how it is now somewhat easier to kill a dragon in EverQuest because its slow respawn was causing bottlenecks and very unsporting behaviour by player groups.

I hate Bugbear!
I was hit by the Bugbear aka Tanatos virus today. It managed to sneak by my virus monitor and send out dozens of mails to people in my mail address book containing bits and pieces of mails I sent months ago. As far as I know, people did not get any of the rather personal mails I store in my archives, but just the thought of people actually getting - and _reading_ stuff I never intended to send them is highly uncomfortable. Reminds you how vulnerable you are as soon as you go online :(. Am up and running again, but spent hours virus checking everything on my harddrive. Argh!

Sheep and The Politics of Publications
This morning an old friend visited me. Her life has taken a completely different direction from mine; she trained as a nursery school teacher, but have in recent years chosen to work at home on the farm she owns with her husband, raising two kids, several sheep and chickens while also growing a huge garden filled with berries, herbs and vegetables which she plants, waters, havest and sells from a stall at the wayside. This season, she confessed, she has been working from 7am till 12pm most days of the week, so if you have any romantic dreams about life as farming wife working at home, forget it.

She has known me for years and years and we have managed to stay in touch and stay friends, though our everyday lives have very little in common. She is sharp and perceptive, and has a very rationalistic and no nonsense approach to life which I value highly - I always feel better when having turned things over with her. However, today she really put me to the test when she asked me to explain what I was writing about:
"Ok, but what is the meaning with your ph.d.thesis?..I mean, it seems so narrow in its focus, will it really do anyone any good?", she asked across the coffeetable, making me shift uneasily on the chair. "Is it of use to anyone?"

I found myself struggling hard to justify my answer, as always. She is not the first, and most likely not the last, to ask this question. Trained as a literary scholar, in a trade which rarely produces anything else but theory and analyses which very few other people actually read, it is something hard to argue that what you do as a scholar will actually do any common good; that it will have any social impact or make a huge difference to a lot of people. Add to this the difficulty of explaining the usefullness of studying a very specific internet phenomena to a person who has never surfed on the internet and does not know what a link is (which is understandable, honestly, when should my friend ever find the time to do that - and playing or chatting just for fun? Forget it.).

However, this time, I did actually manage to persuade her that her old friend is not just a hopeless academic, waisting huge governmental resources on studying something so profoundly weird that no-one really wants to hear about it.

"Remember when we were taught how to analyse popular literature and commercials in secondary school?", I said. "Didn't you find that meaningful?". She nodded. "Don't you think your children should learn how to analyse and critisize also new media, like the internet and the computer? They need to be given tools in order to be able to evaluate what is good and bad in new media, what works, what doesn't and why it doesn't? I know they are never going to sit down and read my ph.d. thesis, but I will try to write articles which explains some of my findings to highschool teachers or even school teachers. In that way, maybe one day, what I discover and think about now, will actually be something your children can be taught." She acquiesced in this argument.

I was honest and perhaps I'm a little naive. But, most of the time, I really do hope that what I "produce" in terms of potential analytical tools etc, will find a use also outside of a very narrow circle of academic researchers. But it acquires that I actually sit down and write about it in a way which laymen can understand and teach in order for the tools to be put into work. I'll be happy to do that. But it really, really bugs me that this kind of writing is not giving me any academic credit. I can put it on my publication list, but when applying for an academic job, it will be disregarded, counted as too "light-weight" since it is (most likely) not going to be peer-reviewed prose. In many ways, I see "popular writing" as the most important part of being an academic; a way of stepping down from the ivory tower and engaging with people, who might actually ask you very clever questions about your work when confronted with it. But the politics of publications is making this difficult. Why spend your time writing "for the people" when it is not going to earn you any butter on the bread?

Perhaps one of my responsibilities as an academic should be to try and change this politics. To make popular publications count, also in the academic world. What do you think?

A German Site "Spielkultur" (Game Culture) spiel* plattform für computer- und videospielkultur which I never come across before, includes me on their link list :)

The Resources site on the Blogroots site (accompagnying site to the book We Blog: Publishing Online With Weblogs ) looks pretty useful. Found it via Torill, who mentions that she and Jill is in it!

Communication and community in digital entertainment services a prestudy research report by Aki Järvinen and Frans Mäyrä. The report studies gameplay and playability, casestudies are Botfighters, Castle Wolfenstein and Dark Ages of Camelot.

"Have a save journey home" - a conference reports of sorts
Yesterday I returned home after a little week in Maastricht, attending the Association of Internet Researcher's Third Conference: Net/Work/Theory. It was a quite densely packed, and at times somewhat stressful, conference, but in general I had a good time, listened to several interesting paper and met both old and new friends. For me, one of the things I had looked most forward to was going from an online to an offline relation to the A.o.I.R executive committee, most of which I only knew through the several hundreds of mail exhanged in the exec committee during the period I have been a grad stud representative on it. Everyone on the commitee was, in RL, as least as friendly as online, and quite often also somewhat younger than I had imagined ;) (I guess you imagine senior staff members also being seniors agewise, which actually I should know is not always the case; also here at ITU many senior staff members are quite young - it is quite natural in a field which is young itself).
//actually it should say a lot more here but Im having problems porting my conference notes from my Revo to the my portable pc...:() - more will be coming up when that is fixed//.
Btw, title is taking from a slide presented during the conference closing. Though it was a mispelling, I like the thought of having a "save journey" home .... does that imply a journey in which you have time to "save" all your memories and impressions of the conference? Or perhaps a journey in an ideal world in which, you like in a game, can start the journey all over, if it goes wrong the first time...?!?

The homeless blogger - an interesting article at on what you can also use a blog for. Homeless US blogger is becoming famous for writing about his life as homeless in his blog (which he updates from public libraries). A mental disorder and problems with functioning socially is one reason why he doesnt settle down - and now his blog is getting him a lot of internet attention, which is not exactly easy to deal with for a person in his condition. All comes together in the last, extremely quirky paragraph of the article:
"All this attention is really stressful. And when I feel stressed, it brings on a kind of depression," he said.

But Barbieux hasn't given in to despair quite yet. In fact, he said, he's trying to figure out a way to leverage the stature he's gained from his blog, and turn it into a book deal.

He writes, "If it means I'll have to go on the Oprah show, I'll have to be sedated."

Videogames history Leuven Uni

AFK for a while. Maastricht ahead.
I'm going to the Association of Internet Researchers conference 3.0: Net/Work/Theory at the end of this week and I am busy preparing my paper (which will be presented next Tuesday in session 7D) and sorting out other stuff.
Will be back in this space after October 17th.

For various reasons, I have moved my blog to this place (something I have planned to do for a long time). I will continue posting here as per usual, mostly URLs and thoughts related to my work as researcher at the IT University. However, the blog will no longer URL-wise be directly linked with the IT University.

Please note, that the archives are online both here and at the old site, so no need to change your perma-links, in case you have some references to old posts on your site.

American Game Warriors
From an article in on the US Military Recruitment game "America's Army":

"As it turns out, the priority placed on America's Army is due to its integral place in "transformation," a new American military doctrine that aims to fully upgrade the Army into an information-driven force. "Mr. Rumsfeld talks about it a lot," says Wardynski. Starting next year, they'll begin to implement helmet-mounted, heads-up displays [HUDS] that will provide the next iteration of infantrymen with real-time data on terrain, enemy concentrations and so on -- "and it looks a lot like a game," according to Wardynski." ....

The article also tries to make a point out of the fact that playing first-person tactical shooters did actually help the Americans fight the Taliban better...And Henry Jenkins is called upon a few times as the scientific games expert. The tide indeed seems to be turning.

Crossdisciplinary musings
I had an interesting lunch meeting today, with a media sociologist and a philosopher who are both writing a ph.d.project related to aesthetics. We discussed the history of communication models, recent interpretations of what aesthetics are, race games, redudancy and other wyrd stuff. I got a bunch of interesting litt links to check out:

Richard Shusterman has written an article on "Somaesthetics" trying to bring the sensory and bodily experiences of art into the understanding of aesthetics, emphasising "pleasure" in itself as something important. (Shusterman: Richard Shusterman "Somaesthetics: A Disciplinary Proposal" in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 57, No 3, Summer 1999). See related interview here.
On the same lines a book by Thomas Demasio called "Descartes Error" should be worthwhile looking at.
It was Stuart Hall of the Birmingham school who wrote an article simply named "Encoding/decoding" (see good intro with models here)
McQuail and Windahl has written an article simply called "Communication Models" which is better than McQuails "Mass Communication Theory" if you want a brief introduction to the history of communication models.(McQuail, D. & Windahl, S. (1993). Communication Models for the Study of Mass Communications (2nd Ed.). New York: Longman)
And the piece in which Gardamer writes about art as symbol, game and celebration and also defines what it is to play (or game??) is called "Die Aktualitet des Schönen" or in the English translation "The Relevance of Beaty". It is available as a seperate book in the German Reclam series and can also be found in book 8 of his collected works. /note that one well-read philosopher can beat Google anytime!/

We also briefly discussed Turkle and the relationship between virtual experiences and the mapping of this onto real life. To which degree can you actually map what you learn through play onto real life? I dont think there is a direct relationship as Turkle seem to indicate: that if you are socially inapt, you will become socially succesfull in real life by "playing" someone else online and being socially succesful in the virtual world. However, I do think that practising social situations through play might make you less afraid of entering into social games in real life. It struck me that here a distinction between simulation and play comes in handy. You can "play" a flight simulator and actually learn to fly by doing this, because an exact mapping of real life rules onto the virtual scenario is possible. However, "playing" socially succesful in a game, is exactly just to "play" in the way kittens play without using their claws as a way of practising grown-up behaviour. Social interaction in a virtual world always takes place through the representation of real people in the form of an avatar and you cannot, for instance, be physically hurt by engaging in physical action with avatars. The point of social interaction in virtual worlds most often is NOT to adhere to real life rules (though, obviously, one definitely adhere to both the explicit game rules and implicit social rules of the specific game world) - mock killing and the easiness by which this is done is something you definitely cannnot and do not want to map onto real life and is a good example of how exact mapping real world to virtual world and back to real world is not possible.

An interesting fact also to pay attention to, as the philosopher pointed out, is that English is a real bad language to talk about reality in. You cannot find the distinction between "virkelighed" (the experience of reality) og "realiteter" (reality as that which is bound to "real" objects and perceptions) as you have in Danish or German - there is a much closer connection to the material aspects of "reality" in the English word "reality" than in the words "virkelighed" or "wirklichheit". Neither does one in English have a distinction between "erfaring" (experience as in learnt or lived experience) and "oplevelse" (as that you experience here and now). That these distinctions do not inherently exist in the English language but needs to be explained by adjectives and definitions is a huge problem when you are dealing with a subject matter where these distinctions matter. As they do to me. So they should be properly defined (as well...)

An annoying mail virus called Bugbear or Tanatos is ravaging my mailbox these days.
Read more about it here or get a removal tool at Symantec (it is hidden somewhere on the middle of the page).

Laugh Lab -a scientific experiment (it's true!) which have now resulted in the announcement of the funniest joke in the world (approximately ;))...according to the votes of almost 2 mill. internet voters.

Win2PDF is a free-ish tool to convert windows applications files into pdf, for instance word documents. But runs on newer operating systems only and generates an extra page with each document. But it works!

I am currently participating in a ph.d.course with Marie-Laure Ryan on Narrativity, Ludology and Digital Media. Jill is here and Lars will be joining us tomorrow, so a small gathering of some of the Scandinavian Research Bloggers...Long days, some preparation and nice social events, so wont be writing in this space before end of week.


Replayability /a true story/

If I had an Xbox...I would be playing this game!

And so it happened. Today at 07:49 weblogs hit the Danish TV-screens...

David Rokeby : Texts - a nice little collection of his writings. He has written some interesting stuff on interaction, mostly related to interactive art installations, but his points have relevance for other ia- works as well.

mixed-media-gallery, an art project using Atmosphere. They have made a Salvador Dali game in a small world where you have to run around turning cubes on before you can enter the Dali Gallery. Primitive, but a good pointer to what you can do with art/gaming in this kind of environment.

Interesting! Adobe is apparently developing their own 3D virtual world player. In beta now. Cyber3d is using it to develop 3D games...(not in beta yet). Running it via the web plugin sucks, I just discovered, but you can find the Adobe Atmosphere Stand alone Player here. - another virtual world content provider. UK based, just started.

virtual galileo - a mixed reality performance, involving on site performance in a tent in Sweden, alongside a performance in a virtual world on the internet. You can download the world browser and play along.
It happens this weekend and is produced by The Interactive Institute.

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans... [supposedly John Lennon]

Adrian Miles actually wrote a very good clarification on the actual virtual issue, which I found today. Thx, Adrian!
(should read A LOT of blogs more regularly, but time, time!)

Visitors mystery
A member of the staff here at ITU informed me that this site has made it to the top 30 of most visited sites at ITU, which puzzled me a bit. Checking out the ITU stats which are available on the internet revealed that the counts they have there of this site are MUCH higher than the ones my own counter shows. So someone is obviously wrong, but who? Unfortunately the stats person isnt in today, but I look forward to having the mystery solved. I dont like the idea of "secret" visitors somehow, though I shouldn't really bother.

And, btw, the person who referred me to the stats info, saids casually: "Of course I had to check your page out, and then I found out it was just this kind of Big Brother thing!". Guess that is also one pov on blogs.

Alexa Web Search - is linked with Amazon and provides reviews and traffic rankings for various websites. You can search your blog in it and see if it got any reviews, there are also reviews of websites of a number of organisations.

Via the EdGames blog:The Big List of RPG Plots

Here are the slides for today's presentation at the University of Copenhagen, the Computer Game Research Seminar.

A busy, but exciting weekend is ahead.
Tomorrow I will be participating in - and giving a talk at a seminar on Computer Game Research at University of Copenhagen.

Sunday evening, after spending the day preparing some chapters of my thesis for a soon-to-visit guest from abroad, I will have visitors from a distance learning class in Århus in StoryMOO, my local virtual world. I will be giving them a tour of the place and talking about creating narratives in virtual environments.

Theorizing Presence, an article by David Jacobson in latest issue of Journal of Virtual Environments, which in fact deals with ...the subject of immersion in text-based worlds, by the look of it.

Inhabited Digital Spaces - contains suggestion for evaluating criteria for virtual worlds (1996).

Interacting and Designing Virtual Worlds on the Internet companion site to Bruce Damer's book on avatars. Contains virtual worlds definition of sorts.

New Media at my old institute. Incredible! Finally, the Department of Comparative Literature at University of Copenhagen is running a course on "New Media & Digital Cultures". There is still hope.

Via Jesper, another interesting article in Gamasutra:"Implementing Stories in Massively Multiplayer Games".

Comparative Classification of Multi-User Virtual Worlds by Tony Manninen & Jani Pirkula (1998).

How to Survive Your PhD - it popped up again at Jill's today. She's been having an anxiety attack about finishing her thesis and I really understand her, being much in the same situation. I keep telling myself, what I tell the students whose Master's dissertation I supervise: you do not have to invent the wheel all over again, no one expects that of you. But of course you want to.

In Denmark, these three years of ph.d. work, is actually called the "Ph.D. education". We are supposed to take courses ourself, we are supposed to learn how to do research. In some sense, we are still at school, yet everyone is expecting us to behave like grown-ups and be very responsible about our own thing. It is a strange "coming of age" time, and I for one cant wait to get it over and done with. I think I know how to do research now, I know how to teach, and there is very few courses that would actually be able to teach me something new (in my own field, that is!), and perhaps most importantly: I know what to do to get on in the academic world. Honestly, right now, the value of the Ph.D. thesis to me mostly seems to be that it earns you a piece of paper, that will make it easier for you to get a job in the academic community. But like in RL (Real Life as in outside of university), when you apply for a job, and no one reads your Masters Dissertation when they examine your credentials, no one seems to actually need to read your Ph.D. thesis when you apply for a assistant professorship etc. They want to see articles, in the end, articles are what counts and the ph.d. thesis is just the bread underneath it all. So no need to butter it all up.

Actual - virtual, comment on yesterday's theory quote (explanation of sorts)
Deleuze in Cinema 2 is immensely obscure (as always?), but I think, he is eager to point out that at a minimum level you cannot make a sharp distinction btw actual and virtual. I want to use him to think about virtual worlds:
In virtual worlds, we are dealing both with a representation of reality and something that is reality in itself, because it does not point to something outside of itself (it is not "realistic" or a documentation of the real world), in a way just like the fiction film . Yet as soon as we have image - or language - we have representation, mediated "reality". What the virtual reality points to is "the world" itself, of which it is a part - it asks us to construct a universe by combining the parts we are presented with, in fact a kind of never accomplished hermeneutic circle of interpretation. This is an example of an image whose "nature is double", it is virtual and actual at the same time. The moment we interact in this represented reality, our actions are already moving into the past at the same time as we are constructing the future. It is not us, who cannot discern between what is real and what is not. It is in the nature of things themselves; they refuse to be either or. Neither Reality, nor just a representation of it.
Deleuze refers to Robbe-Grillet and Bergson, Robbe-Grillet and his idea of a nouveau roman. RG wants to let the objects speak for themselves and not be contamined by the human emotions attached to them. What he does is write and work in a constant process of construction and erasure: he describes the objects and then he erases them through a new and slightly different description of them. Out of this comes perhaps "narrative", the story of the man who describes the world. Bergson and his notion of duree, time not as cut up into chronological and measurable seconds, but time as a "strecthed" now, a constant movement from the past into the future. As when we listen to (classical) music: we can only understand it by combining the node we hear "now" with our memory of the nodes that came before. "Music" is what we experience in an anticipation of what is coming and an interpretation of what we have already heard. Is that similar to how we live a virtual world? Our experience of "worldliness" is a combination of what we have already actualised and what is yet to come, what is about to actualised and what will make new actualisations possible.

Today's clever theory quote
“The indiscernibility of the real and the imaginary, or of the present and the past, of the actual and the virtual, is definitely not produced in the head or in the mind, it is the objective characteristic of certain existing images which are by nature double. “
- Gilles Deleuze: Cinema 2 - The Time-Image, pp 69

This article looks interesting: "Avatarculture: Narrative, power and identity in virtual world environments" by Stephen Webb in the Information, Communication and Society Journal published by Routledge.

But it costs $17 to buy it online :(, great service, but quite a lot of money for something whose quality it is difficult to judge.