blogging course

While this week is packed with seminars, events and workshops with our international guests we also do more regular HUMlab activities. This week we have two short courses: blogging and extreme makeover/Photoshop. Stephanie Hendrick taught the blogging course yesterday and tomorrow our digital artist, Linda Bergkvist, will do the Photoshop course.

Interestingly the local paper Västerbottens Folkblad picked up on the blogging course and here is a short article in Swedish

Workshop report

I’ve just attended the workshop on gender, place and space in computer games led by Helen Kennedy. Helen started out by framing her research interests within theories on play, computer games and gender. Considering the mix of backgrounds of people attending I think it was a good thing to get this kind of general introduction to this complex subject area. One of the issues which was raised during her presentation was how to find ways for female players to comfortably play games that aren’t typically considered female due to their violent characteristics (first-person shooter games, for instance), without having to be faced with the stereotypical images of women and the often stereotypical attitudes of other gamers. Based on the theoretical discussion we were given missions to solve in groups. The group in which I participated took on the task of designing a game which would “raise players’ awareness of issues such as gender exclusion, racial or sexual oppression”.

Game design is a completely new area to me, but luckily I had two game designers and a former play worker on my team, and we came up with a quite interesting online adaptation of the hot air balloon game in which you have to convince the other players that you should not be the person getting thrown overboard in order to prevent the balloon from sinking. Participants would play fictive characters partly designed by themselves with additional characteristics being assigned by the system, and would get to vote on who to throw out based on these characteristics only. The idea behind this would be to raise an awareness of the mechanisms of oppression, something which seems to be difficult to do without loosing the true interactive and pervasive qualities of the game. However, in this case I think it would be possible to introduce a moral and still keep the aspect of fun and playfulness.

Now I’m off for Jane’s event “Confessions of a Flash mob organizer”, which begins in seven minutes and will be accompanied by some snacks 🙂

seminar participation

An observation about people attending Jane’s seminar today: We had faculty and students come from Comparative Literature, the Scriptwriting Program, Modern Languages, Ethnology/anthropology, Media studies, Computing science, Informatics and Applied Physics & Electronics. Also a few people who labeled themselves as “external”. Quite a good mix! There was a lot of interest in Jane’s work and many connections to work here – I heard students, Ph.D. students and faculty discuss their work with Jane.

Here is the streamed version of the seminar (realmedia format). An mp3 version will be published in a few days.

Jane McGonigal’s talk

I am learning new things about gaming (gnome protests, skydiving gaming, generating new media, maintaining your identity). Jane’s seminar has just started. My camera died after one photo – more extensive photo documentation will have to wait.

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She is now talking about the importance of persistent worlds, affordance of space, scaling up, safe game spaces. Interesting stuff!

the cookie is still rolling…

Jane McGonigal will be speaking this week in the lab. Monday at 13.15 she will talk about Puppetmasters and performances: Pervasive gaming in practice (will put up the stream link on Monday) and on Tuesday at 17.30 she will present Confessions of a Flash Mob Organizer.

Jane with choc ball

I was able to spend some time with her today performing the next instillation of her project, the cookie is still rolling. It was a wonderful time and a fun project. Make sure to check out her progress on her blog, avant game. Also, she was wondering when someone will begin the next cookie poem…any takers? 🙂