T L Taylor on Reconsidering Emergence

I really enjoyed T L Taylor‘s Keynote Presentation on Reconsidering Emergence. I thought I would blog my notes to add to those already posted (a type of collaborative blogging).
T L described herself as practicing”qualitative sociology”. This has been recently applied to World of Warcraft. At the moment the MMORPG is running at 6.5 million inhabitants, and growing fast. T L noticed a different type of game play when she moved from the USA to live in Europe and began playing on a “European Server”. This is something that surprised her. T L said she noticed two things; avatar selection affects data and the player versus player game makes for a very different game experience. She was now on a “European English Speaking PVP Server” and noticing the difference.
“The same game can look very different based on the server”

In much of the research conducted to date ‘Emergence’ has been constructed based on the assumption that it is “nice”. T L chosen to look at it in terms of:


The observance of these is based in turn on that “social labour makes these games playable” and without such social work there would be no game.
The first point to which to consider the terms of emergence is “Multicultural Worlds?”
In WoW the community regulates and structures the game world. Looking at the use of English and how it is enforced gives us a picture of the regulation and structures of the game world as multicultural.
Farming: earning Real World Money (RWM) from value gained in game. Botters: those who use bots to farm.
Chinese Gold Farmers: based on the assumption that farmers are working out of “third world” geographic locations and are not good at English (the assumed language of the developed world). The so-called Chinese gold farmers are subjected to an English language text, those that fail are judged to b farmers and killed. Constance Steinkuehler was cited by T L as a source of inspiration (Games and Culture paper cited). The Farming the Farmers machinima was product from the game space. It showed the policing of game space by players.
Guild admissions involve filtering and ranking, further regulation of game community by itself.
Players are creating technical artefacts; they make the software.
Data mining in MMORPGs – Player profiles are rich source of information. These are catalogued and archived outside the game for public view.
Co-creative culture; player as producers and designers, beta texting and creating mods and machinima.
A modded interface from curse-gaming.com was shown here. The difference between a modded UI and unmodded one is huge.
Surveillance: “Mods watch”. Termed by T L “surveillance assemblage”
Other surveillance included the Blizzard monitoring of RAM to guard against Botters and the PlayOn project from Xerox Parc as monitoring game play.
“Coveillance”; people participate in surveillance. The line between technology and skill is an issue in mods. Are they playing the same game with radically different UI?
The UI is the “structure and grammar of the database” according to a Blizzard FAQ page quoted by T L.
T L defines emergence as “productivity” and sees the future as needing us to “quantify and rationalise the structure of gameplay”