Re: [xmca] Experience: material, ideal, real, imagined in MMOGs

From: Mike Cole (
Date: Mon Mar 06 2006 - 13:07:53 PST

Great summary of your WOW activities and observations, Linda. There sure
is a lot to talk about. And read about. And play with. And play at working
And it seems pretty obvious that a number of xmca-o-phytes are interested in
topic. I have really appreciated all the new leads.

For those who do not have Sherry Turkle's book, which is interesting for all
reasons ennumerated, there should be quick access to her article on
and reconstruction of the self" that appeared in MCA, 1994, Vol 1 no 3. A
quick, early,
precis. Gaming has come a long way since then.

I heard (on xmca?) that there is now something like an internet ethnogrpahy
society. Is that
true? How does one contact it? The journal "Information, communication, &
society" which can
be accessed online from some universities has some very relevant articles
and I sure there are
skads more.

summer reading and discussion topic? Or so pressing it pushes out other

On 3/5/06, Polin, Linda <> wrote:
> Hi Mike and X'ers,
> I am both playing in and writing about an MMOG at the moment, with a
> group of doctoral students who are no doubt lurking on this list.
> I'm playing in World of Warcraft (or World of Warcrack, as it is
> often called for good reason). I am very interested in the way in
> which the designers have shaped interaction and play, with regard to
> both the client interface for playing, and the sociocultural
> structures around tasks and interactions in the game play. [I'm also
> playing in Second Life, but that is a very different creature.]
> In WoW, I've played alongside 12 year olds and old farts like myself;
> college kids complaining about the bandwidth in the dorms, and
> mommies who periodically have to go AFK BRB (away from keyboard; be
> right back) to change a diaper. So far none offers any evidence of
> confusing what you are calling reality and fantasy, although almost
> all have remarked on one occasion or another about the immersive
> power of the world to 'wow' them (pun intended) and engage them
> deeply. Everyone who plays has a story about losing track of time in
> significant ways. That is immersion. And I think Michelle's remarks
> with regard to "flow" come the closest to describing what is going on.
> Is it material? Because there is an economic system in play, and
> objects of desire, there is real work happening, and I am NOT
> referencing only the "gold farmers" in China using game characters to
> gather game gold to be sold for real money to players who want an
> easy way to get ahead in the game but lack the time or tenacity to do
> the grind work. There are also in-game activities analogous to real
> work and real world life.
> Real work: For instance, the guildmaster of my guild is a day trader
> who spends a lot of time working the Auction House (in-game EBay kind
> of thing) to make the game money he needs to support his character's
> needs (e.g., trick out his ride, in this case a white tiger). There
> are guilds that players belong to, which function as both family and
> school in a way reminiscent of the Brazilian "Samba schools" Seymour
> Papert described. Here though, instead of preparing for Mardi Gras
> competitions with other Samba Schools and having fun, it's about
> preparing for competitions with other players and having fun.
> Real play (within play): For instance, at the recent Winter Veil
> Festival I got to drink strong ale, and after two drinks, my screen
> was a bit blurry. After three drinks, it was significantly worse and
> my mouse actions were less accurate. I was drunk, albeit virtually
> so, and my game play was impaired.
> I would propose that, within the game world, these analogous elements
> make it a KIND of real world, rather than a fantasy world. There is a
> very real, game-specific culture that players rely upon to make their
> way in that world. There are real relationships, real traditions and
> ways of being in the world, real identity markers, divisions of labor
> and opportunities for collaboration, sub-cultures, mediational
> objects with embedded histories that support new learners, etc etc
> etc. WoW is fascinating to me because it is NOT a blurring of
> reality; it is an ALTERNATE (not alternative) reality, an alternate
> real culture. By virtue of having a discernible culture, is it not real?
> There is an immense amount of material to talk about here, but this
> is an interesting turn on XMCA and I'm hoping we'll have some 'time'
> to discuss more. I'd point you to our blog on this, but it's not yet
> ready for prime time consumption.
> Why must we refer to reality as if there were only one possible? =grin=
> Lindax
> (aka Hallgrima, a level 44 Gnome Warlock)
> Linda Polin, PhD
> Davidson Professor of Education and Technology
> Director, EdD in Educational Technology
> 310-568-5641; Skype: profpolin
> On Mar 5, 2006, at 4:07 PM, Mike Cole wrote:
> >>
> >> In various situations (in particular, I am thinking of various
> >> massive
> >> multi-user games and related cyber-interactional meeting places)
> >> it appears that people can, perhaps cannot help at times,
> >> confusing what
> >> we
> >> would normally refer to as "fantasy" and "reality."
> >>
> >> There is an extensive literature on the development of this
> >> distinction in
> >> children's development, but I am seeking research on the
> >> distinction's presumed presence or absence among adults.
> >>
> >> Any and all help appreciated
> >> mike
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> xmca mailing list
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> Andy Blunden, for Victorian Peace Network
> >> Global Justice Tours:
> >>
> >>
> > _______________________________________________
> > xmca mailing list
> >
> >
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
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