Utrecht, GameFace, and LonCon3!

Ok, so I am back to Manchester… for a few days. Wow, what a summer! In this post I will try to give a rundown/post mortem of the past 3 events I have been to with plenty of pictures to dazzle the eye.

Utrecht Summer School Games and Play

Working back from the most recent event, the Utrecht Summer School was an amazing experience. Lucky students got to experience 2 weeks of keynotes, workshops, and game jams (which, by the way, had epic results) all related to games studies.

Chiptune + juice + crayons + a Choose Your Own Methodological Adventure book in my workshop.
Chiptune + juice + crayons + a Choose Your Own Methodological Adventure book in my workshop.

I think the key term of the summer school, as started by Frans Mäyrä, was ‘interdisciplinarity’. Many epistemologies, frameworks, and perspectives were represented at the school, but rather than feel overwhelming or stifling, such diversity actually brought a special type of energy. The feeling of walking into the summer school as an outsider who arrived a week late was one of community, eagerness to learn, and a willingness to share.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/127031074@N08/
Well, to share knowledge and beer, of course.

I heard whisperings that the summer school might become a yearly gig. I really hope those whispers become something, because this was a fantastic opportunity for students around the world to connect to one another, build important friendships (which really shouldn’t be underestimated), and expose themselves to other research and other ways of researching games, players, and industry.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/127031074@N08/
Let it be established from this photo that I can indeed stand and talk at the same time.

I think the variety of topics presented, as well as the variety of presenters and their styles, made for an engaging summer school. From the side of an educator and instructor, I think the diversity of keynotes was a brilliant idea which not only illustrates the diversity of games research and methodologies (see Nicolle Lamerich’s post here), but also provides a well-rounded education for students. The specialities of the faculty, along with their unique presentation styles, also meant things rarely got dull. I, for example, jokingly encouraged students to draw pictures of dragons during my presentation if they found the talk boring or too basic. I forgot just how playful game scholars are. I got so many dragon pictures tweeted to me that I began to feel like a certain Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men.

I guess students weren’t too bored though… 😉

feedback

Needless to say, I very much enjoyed my time in Utrecht and would love to be a part of next year’s summer school.

GameFace

On Sunday, 24th August, I was interviewed by GameFace (Fab International Radio) station in Manchester. Whilst most of the questions centred on problematic content in games and representations of gender, we did also have a chance to talk about Superbyte and chiptune. Eventually, you will be able to listen to the interview replayed here, but it is still being uploaded.

gameface

Also, FantomenK favourited a Tweet I was mentioned in… so I guess I can retire now. I mean, that’s pretty much the peak of my career, right? The closest I’ll ever get to being a rock star, basically.

LonCon3

Between the tube, the beer, and those fuzzbutt trousers in London summer heat, I nearly died at LonCon3. Okay. So maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But seriously, the furry trousers were fun, but so warm.

faun2
This is actually the only full-body pic I have of my cosplay. 😦 Does anyone else know of any?

I decided to cosplay as a Mr. Tumnus-style faun. Because why not? And also because Chaos Costumes started making these amazing fuzzybutt faun trousers and hooves. (I thoroughly recommend you check out her Etsy shop. Such talent, wow!)

Like a deer caught in the headlights.
Like a deer caught in the headlights.

It was super fun clomping around London dressed in such a costume. The best were the reactions from children on the tube. Parents were, by and large, surprisingly cool with their kids coming up and talking to me (despite Mr. Tumnus being infamous for drugging children, ahem). I did get some dirty looks from plenty of people, and there were one or two camera flashes without permission, but for the most part people were respectful. I was actually a bit taken aback at how much people outside of the Con seemed to stare and gawk. I thought cosplay, or fancy dress, or LARP-y type clothes had become almost mainstream by now. Hmm… Oh well. I actually gave my talk in the cosplay, so that was fun. 😀 I don’t have pictures of me speaking in cosplay, which is a bummer, but maybe someone else does? If so, I would love to see it!

Here I am moderating a panel.
Here I am moderating a panel on queerbaiting. Photo credit to Jukka Särkijärvi, who also took the ‘featured image’ at the top of this post.

It is hard to pick a favourite panel at the Con, but mine might have been on queerbaiting (above image). This is because not only was the audience super supportive and respectful, but also because I learned so much. The panelists were extraordinarily patient and articulate in both providing examples and explaining the phenomenon which I, embarrassingly, was unfamiliar with.

The Game Love Game lives!
The Game Love Game lives!

One of the other panels I was fortunate to be a part of involved playing the Game Love Game I designed a couple years ago. It was well received and I was happy so many chose to play it. It is like… a companion game for our book. If you’re interested in playing it, get in touch.

jawas
“Utinni!”

The Con wasn’t all work though. I had plenty of time to play and goof around, as evidenced above. These Jawas were super friendly despite their menacing looks. They made me cover up my Star Trek/Wars t-shirt or they wouldn’t take a photo with me, though! D:

I do not sew... my cosplay.
I do not sew… my cosplay.

And here I am trying to pull my best Eddard Stark expression on the Iron Throne with a pint of cider. I think the cider diminishes the srsns a little bit, but I didn’t have Ice handy. Cider… Ice… there’s a pun there, but I’m not going to make it.

So, I’m sharing these silly pictures for a reason. I think one of the coolest parts about being an academic who studies a beloved media with a large, passionate fan culture is that we are allowed to be fans too. Well, in my opinion at least. For those who saw my talk on qualitative methodology, subjectivity is at the heart of what I do. So… yeah, have some subjectively awesome photos, if I do say so myself.

On a less theoretical note, it is also good to not take yourself too seriously. See below:

Helsinki 2017!
Helsinki 2017!

Thank you!

In closing, I just want to thank everyone involved in Utrecht Summer School Games and Play, GameFace, and LonCon3 for giving me amazing opportunities to travel around, goof around, and spread my research. After the whole experience I feel warm and fluffy, despite the exhaustion.

Until next time,

Ashley

 

DiGRA, LonCon, Utrecht, cosplay, travel, etc…

Soon I leave for the USA and DiGRA, then I’ll be off to London for WorldCon/LonCon3, then Utrecht to teach Summer School! Should you want to see me at any of these events, this post is to outline when/where I will be speaking… and also to give you a sneak peak at some of my talks. Prepare to be underwhelmed by feeble, but well-intentioned, attempts at creativity gone horribly awry (a gamebook to teach qualitative methodology-whaaa?).
Anyway, a-here we go!

DiGRA

3-6 August 2014
Snowbird, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
I present the day before my birthday... w00t!
I present the day before my birthday… w00t!

Should you happen to be headed to Snowbird, Utah for this year’s DiGRA, be sure to come on 5th August and see me talk about Georg Simmel’s ‘adventure’ and how this pause in identity development can be applied to erotic role play in games. For those of you who saw me speak in Tampere in 2012, this presentation/paper is a continuation of the ideas discussed there. I try to tie in adventure games, location, wilderness/beauty of the natural world, into discussions about aesthetics, identity, and player desire. Yeah. It gets messy. I recently re-read the paper and determined I achieved moderate success, but then I went to make the PowerPoint and this hot mess emerged…

What is... I don't even....
What is… I don’t even….
So, yeah, come along, tell your friends, bring your smartphone to keep occupied on Twitter, and prepare to witness what is sure to be the neutron star of my budding career!

LonCon3

14-18 August 2014
ExCeL, London Dockland, UK
LonCon is going to rock. So far I am set to moderate/ participate on the following panels. Locations are TBA, I think, but if you are lucky, you might get to see me cosplay (Scroll down for pics).

Queerbaiting (Mod)
Thursday 19:00 – 20:00
Fanlore, the wiki of “The Organization for Tranformative Works”, describes queerbaiting as “the perceived attempt by canon creators (typically of television shows) to woo queer fans by introducing a character whose sexuality seems, early on, to be coded as something other than one hundred percent heterosexual.” Coding queer characters and relationships has an ancient history in literature and art of all forms and has often been a positive and necessary means of representing queer people when censorship and conservative moral norms would deem it (practically) impossible. Today, genre shows such as Lost GirlPenny Dreadful,Orphan BlackGame of Thrones and Defiance prove that same sex relationships do not have a negative impact on genre television viewership and are readily accepted, and invariably welcomed, by the audience. With this in mind, we question the practice of hinting at characters being queer and developing queer relationships. We ask exactly where the boundary lies between fan service, ship-teasing and queerbaiting and whether queerbaiting is homophobic.
Love in Games (Mod)
Thursday 21:00 – 22:00
How do we design love in games, and what does this mean? Creating meaningful relationships in games is becoming something of a holy grail, and there are many ways of representing love in, for and around games. From the heart symbol that empties as Zelda dies, to giving Morrigan presents in Dragon Age, love is a difficult thing to understand, let alone simulate it within games themselves. Yet we ‘love’ games – sometimes too much, and this is key to our relationship with them. Here, we look at the importance of representing and expressing such a complex concept within games.
The Love Games Game
Friday 16:30 – 18:00
We’ve written a book about love in games! But during the course of it, we evolved a game about love, which talks about our love for games. What would a zombie reincarnation of the Zelda franchise be like? How about Super Streefighter II with cupcakes? Come along and play this silly mash up game where we invent some lovely games from the games we love.
Being a Fan of Problematic Things
Saturday 13:30 – 15:00
“I know the writer is a sexist, homophobic bigot but I really love this show and I can’t stop watching.” Statements like this are common refrains but it, and others like it, cause very strong reactions. It causes many fans to feel insulted that their idol or favourite television shows are being accused of some pretty harsh things, yet others feel offended that the fan is still watching despite these things. In this session we ask how it is possible to still enjoy television programmes, movies, books and the works of controversial creators when we as individuals or community groups consider the subject matter or means of representation problematic. We also ask why some fans react so badly to this criticism and if there is a way to make the bitter pill easier to swallow.
Playing with Diversity: Games and Speculative Fiction
Saturday 16:30 – 18:00
Three academics each give a 15 minute presentation followed by a joint 30 minute discussion with the audience.
  • Mika Loponen and Markus Montola, “Speculative Games: A Ludological Analysis of Fictional Games”
  • Jaakko Stenros & Tanja Sihvonen, “Out of the Dungeons, onto the Meadows: Queer Representations in Role-Playing Source Books”
  • Ashley Brown, Elves are from Venus, Dwarves are from Mars: Diverse (sexual) relationships in speculative fictional worlds
  • Diane Carr, “Weird Spheres, Bursting Bodies and Peculiar Tools: Disability, Masculinity and the Monstrous in the Dead Space Series”
Lizard Wizards in Space! Bethesda vs Bioware
Sunday 11:00 – 12:00
Panel examining the impact of Bioware and Bethesda videogames on recent gaming experiences. Baldur’s Gate, Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Skyrim have all advanced player experiences in games, providing us with rich worlds, exciting possibilties and diverse characters to play. Both companies pride themselves on allowing the player to choose their own pathway through the game, and to experience each world on their own terms. This panel investigates the strengths and weakness of these games, and looks at the ways they are influencing play.

Okay, so I plan to do a huge cosplay faux pas and re-use my DragonCon Night’s Watch outfit from last year for at least one of the days, but I promise my outfit for the Masquerade (viewing-not participating) will be so lavish you won’t even notice.
viking
I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children, have no fun, etc, etc.

Utrecht Summer School

16-31 August 2014 (I will be there from 25-27 August)
Utrecht
I am very excited to be giving a lecture about my passion- qualitative methodology. Better yet, I get to host a 3 hour workshop on the topic. Woo hoo!
I promise I'll make epistemology fun!
I promise I’ll make epistemology fun!

Unfortunately, my workshop is limited to only 15 students. That’s because I’ve made my own Choose Your Own (Methodology) Adventure gamebook. That’s right. A CYOA gamebook for qualitative methodology. By the end of the course, my goal is for students of all levels to have a working research design with solid justifications for their choice of methods. If you’re new to qualitative researching, consider this a crash course. If you have already done your fieldwork, come along for the section on the relationship between theory and analysis. Just about to hand in your thesis? No worries, come along for a last-minute tune up and make sure you have the vocabulary you need for your defence.

I hope it is as informative as it is accessible and fun. Also, dragons.

A sneak peak! Can't wait to get these printed. :>
A sneak peak! Can’t wait to get these printed. :>

There will be time during the workshop for Q&A as well as a discussion of preference, controversy, and ethics. I’m super excited for this!


I hope to see you all very soon,

Ashley

Tampere, Skövde, and Liverpool oh my!

(Apologies for the inconsistency of font regarding umlauts.)

In my last post I promised you a more in-depth account of the Critical Evaluation of Games Studies conference. Then I went to Sweden to give a guest lecture, so… Yeah. Things got a little busy.

presentation
There is always time to coordinate your outfit with your co-author, however.

So since I can’t offer you a full run-down of the Tampere conference, I can recommend some clever people who have! I thoroughly recommend that you check out Jonne Arjoranta‘s blog post which not only gives a action-by-action replay of the event, but also uses the Twitter feed to illustrate the types of discussions which happened. Here is the only Twitter screenshot I was able to find about my presentation:

twitterpopularity

Anyway, Frans Mäyrä has pulled together an overview about the bigger picture of the seminar and the current state of games studies as a field over on his blog. Both blogs are fantastic accounts and do the conference a justice I simply cannot. 

Now onto Skövde. Last week on the 14th May I was fortunate enough to be invited to give a lecture to students and a presentation to staff at the University of Skövde. I was amazed at how well the students responded to the lecture, how happy they were to approach me and their thorough engagement and curiosity. They were very keen to deepen their understanding of how sexuality might be implemented in game design and what this might mean for society/culture overall. They were also kind enough to leave me Twitter feedback. 🙂

studentevalskovde

And to wrap up this recap, an interview I did with Rami Sihvo about my research is now up and available to read in both Finnish and English over on the perliraati.fi blog. I am very humbled at being published (sorta) in a language other than English. It is really special for me to get my research out to a larger audience and I am very grateful for the opportunity to do that.

perliraati
I’m super enamoured with reading myself in Finnish… even if I can’t speak it… or read it. Ahem. Thanks, Rami for your translation work!

And now I am off to prepare for an impending trip to Liverpool to give a talk about erotic play and spatiality/location. Phew, this summer is a busy one.

Until next time,

Ashley

Images from Finland

A quick note: I was able to snap lots of photos over the past week I spent in Tampere and Helsinki which I am keen to share along with some musings over language, food, airlines. Although I was there for a conference, and thus didn’t have too much time to have a look around, I had enough time to snap a few things to think about. I will be back soon with a more ‘official’ account of the conference. In the meantime, languages fascinate me!


I was very fortunate to spend this past week in Finland- even if the last day was a bit of a surprise. This trip was a very special one. In addition to seeing a diverse group of friends I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with (because of geographical issues), I also was able to reflect on several issues- both personal and professional. There really is nothing quite like a language barrier to create a smothering feeling of difference which calls to the mind the politics of language on a very basic level.

aiport
Language is present on the front of the pack, but culture is also present.

These jelly beans are a small example. The purchaser is informed in four languages that these pink beans are Hello Kitty’s favourite flavours. Not to go full-Saussure on ya, but there is something symbolic in a fictional character having favourite flavours. Particularly when we consider the fictional Japanese character is being used to sell sweets in the United Kingdom which were manufactured in the United States by German immigrants. Furthermore, that a friend requested I bring these because she cannot source them in Finland (and Finnish is not one of the languages on the pack) brings forth several points about culture, values, capitalism/globalisation, and taste which I cannot get into here. Suffice to say, some things are lost in translation. Like reindeer sandwiches.

reindeer
My attempts to buy a tomato and mozzarella sandwich were thwarted by smoked reindeer. PS- It was delicious.

Unlike the Swedish subtitles beneath this particular sandwich, the Finnish name is incomprehensible to those only familiar with English. Sure renkött doesn’t look much like reindeer, but there is at least a resemblance in letters- a likely leftover relic from Middle English. Fascinating to trace the history of language through sandwiches. Om nom nom…

 

donkey
What is… I don’t even know…

More so than language, this little gem represents an odd way to sell sweets. I don’t quite understand why the donkey is blonde with breasts, or indeed why the sweets are the same colour as the aforementioned breasts, but hey ho. I very much doubt the package for these sweets has anything to do with Finnish culture and everything to do with a …’creative’… marketing director somewhere, but I could be wrong. Feel free to correct me in the comments. 🙂

cybershop
A nightclub called Fat Lady, along with Cybershop which, as far as I could tell, was a bit like Cyberdog. I prefer to think instead that they sell cybersex.

The problem with not being able to read the language of the country you’re in are multi-fold. Particularly as when you do find words in your language, they seem to stand out ten times more. In fact, I bet the only word native English-speaking readers will remember from the donkey sweets pack is the word ‘Lady’ because it was the only word in English.

Anyway, I laugh at the Fat Lady nightclub every time I walk down Hämeenkatu. Although I have never been, a review calls Fat Lady ‘classy and sophisticated’. Huh. As much as I hate to admit it, the interior is well designed and they have a Spotify link to their playlists- shockingly cool for such a crude name.

weinercoffee
Heh… wiener coffee…

Likewise, when you see something which is slightly rude in English, but used in a totally innocent way, it is also giggle-inducing. (I know it means Viennese coffee, but I can’t help it!)

From the set of Star Trek: TOS.
From the set of Star Trek: TOS.

As I mentioned before, a airline error meant I had to spend an extra night in Helsinki. The airline put me up in a rather modest hotel which featured the ugliest chair I have ever seen and this lift which looks like it was built in the 1960s and left to rot in its avocado glory. I have to admit, it has an aesthetic appeal, which is why I’m including it in a blog post mostly about language.

The ugliest chair ever.
The ugliest-chair-ever-and-airline-pyjamas-selfie.

I had to take a selfie with it in my airline-issued-pyjama glory. Yeah, they also lost my luggage. But no matter! Totally worth it to spend the night with early 90s chairs.

gross
Because claustrophobia of lifts is better when combined with the claustrophobia of a plane.

The interior of the lifts were a cool idea, but unfortunately freaked me out a little. Anyway, enough pictures for now. Expect a proper conference run-down soon.

Until then,

Ashley

I accidentally’d a game at Update Show and called it #selfiequest

This past Saturday Esther MacCallum-Stewart and myself gave a talk about the state of games education and research in the United Kingdom at Update Show. (There was, of course, a particular shout out to the newly formed DiGRA UK chapter.) I have been informed that the videos of the talk are being edited and will be uploaded shortly.

IMG_5320

As soon as the talks are available, I’ll be sure to link them. This post, however short it might be, is about how I accidentally made a game during the Update Show afterparty. The game, entitled #selfiequest is detailed below. I hope to see some of you playing it this summer!

The Birth of #selfiequest

There is always a strong digital presence at in-the-flesh networking events. Whether this presence takes the form of carefully printed links on business cards, Facebook posts about the event, or quickly snapped selfies, everyone is connected online as they try to establish connections offline. Especially when the bartenders offer free wifi passwords along with free drinks. After 20:00 on Saturday night, my Twitter feed started to flood with pictures like this one:

BlDBB2XIAAA-tgg
I happened to take this picture (and forgot the flash was on, ahem), so I am as guilty as everyone else.

Some folks, researchers included, are troubled by this reliance on digital media- particularly when it seems to supplant ‘normal’ or ‘traditional’ methods- such as talking to people face-to-face. My personal philosophy is that online and offline interactions are two sides of the same coin which blend together to make a cohesive social experience. Saying that, there is always the danger of the formation of cliques.

Perhaps more prevalent in-the-flesh (as people tend to pick a spot in the room and sit there the entire night), there are power structures, hierarchies, fears of rejection, awkwardness, and small talk over who sits where and when and for how long. Sometimes this works out for the best and a former group of strangers sit together, dig their roots in, and form a brand new social group. Often what happens instead, however, is that people coalesce around common contacts and the room quickly turns into a high school cafeteria. This annoys me far more than selfies ever could. So, to fix this, I made a game.

#selfiequest

The Goal

To find an anonymous Twitter user at the same event as you and take an awkward selfie with them (if they consent). Also, to make contacts in-the-flesh as well as through Twitter.

What You Need 

  • A Twitter account
  • A smart phone/tablet with camera
  • An event with 25+ people. This can be a conference, convention, concert, etc.

How to Play

  1. There are two roles: The Quester and The Tweeter. Any time someone tweets a picture of an event, they become The Tweeter (whether they realise it or not) and the game starts. So, log into Twitter and follow the event organiser and/or search relevant hashtags to find the first photo- or become The Tweeter yourself by taking the first photo!
  2. Using only the tweeted event photo, The Tweeter’s user photo/background image, The Quester must embark on an epic mission to find them in the flesh. Use strategy! Use the setting/décor found in the photo to locate the general area The Tweeter might be at or ask random people if they happen to know the user by showing them the tweet.
  3. Once found, the ritual must be completed and the magic circle closed. The Quester must take a selfie with The Tweeter (as long as they consent), and tweet it to show others playing the game that a point was just scored. If The Tweeter does not want to be in the photo, then a simple “I just met The Quester” tweet is sufficient.

The Rules

  1. At any time The Quester may ask anyone at the event for help locating The Tweeter– but The Quester must ask them one-on-one and in-the-flesh. Tweeting for help or shouting is forbidden.
  2. When The Quester asks someone for help, they must introduce themselves and explain the game. This not only widens social circles, but also spreads the game to new players. The more folks playing, the merrier!
  3. If you have played the game before and are approached by a Quester asking after someone you don’t know, you must respond (regardless of gender) “I’m sorry, but your princess is in another castle”. This indicates that you know of, and have played/are playing the game and thus don’t need it explained. Expediency is valuable in the game of tweets.
  4. Once The Quester has found The Tweeter and completed their mission, they must tweet to score points. 1 point is awarded for a confirmation tweet from The Tweeter. For example, “Quester @_____ just found me! Well done!” -OR- 1 point is awarded for a selfie which features The Quester and The Tweeter.
  5. The game ends when the event does. Scores are added by going through past tweets. The winner wins… well, the most new contacts!

Final Thoughts

This game has only been played once, so I’m sure there are a few bugs to work out, but I think the overall concept works well. I hope to see some of you playing #selfiequest during your summer conference and festival adventures. If you do decide to play, tweet me, k? I’d like to see my game-baby grow.

Until next time,

Ashley

TESO Launched! And it has the same problems it did in beta…

No, I don’t mean glitches, bugs, or crashes. I was in game for a shocking 8 hours yesterday with only 2 disconnects and 1 user interface error. I’m quite impressed. As far as launches go, this one has been smooth.

The problem I’m talking about is language-based. Just as I blogged about last month, Deutsch was a source of contention for players on the EU server. And just like last time, this occurred around 4 hours into launch. With a sufficient level of mastery achieved, and part of the new game smell faded amongst fumes of energy drink and frozen snacks, players turn to in-fighting to amuse themselves through the grind of quest after quest. Unfortunately I couldn’t stick around to see the drama fully unfold (as it was well past my bedtime) but I did manage to grab some screenies of the conflict which you will find below.

‘Zone’ or general/area chat appears below in white. This is text anyone in the vicinity can read and it is public. The interspersed green snippets are from one of my guilds, and for the purposes of this post, should be ignored. The multicoloured bars are used to protect the identities of those chatting as I took these screenies covertly. Each colour indicates an individual player- repeated colours are thus multiple comments from the same player.

Image

Now, I’m not sure anyone here was trolling, or at least that this fiasco was started for the purposes of trolling. From reading various forum posts, there seems to be an agreement amongst most EU guilds to set English as the (informal) primary, unifying language to be used in chat and communication*.As far as I can tell, this English ‘rule’ (see what I did there?) goes largely unquestioned.

Also, there are in-built chat functions in the game to provide separate channels based on language. As commenter Blue notes, /dezone is the command prompt to access the German chat channel. After Blue informs Red and Pink about this channel, the two German-speakers each insist they have a right to chat in their preferred language in general zone. Red even goes as far as citing the EULA (End User License Agreement) to defend their developer-given right to chat in German. Blue repeats their request that Deutsch be taken elsewhere, and then the conversation begins to slide off track.

Red makes reference to the US-based History Channel– infamous for its obsession with Nazis**, very little actual history, and this guy– to perhaps highlight the origin of Blue’s request. If we notice above, Yellow makes a comment in French and this is completely ignored. No one tells Yellow to go to /frzone. Hmm… Interesting that German seems to be a trigger. The conversation is already skidding along the rails when Orange body-slams it over the tipping point. Orange highlights the irony in the refusal to speak English in chat is happening in English… in chat. Surely that means Blue has won? After that, well, it got pretty chaotic.

Although the word ‘Nazi’ wasn’t used in this case, or at least not whilst I was there, the conversation brings up equally pressing and controversial issues about online gaming and society at large. Why did no one tell Yellow to go speak French elsewhere? Why is German so inflammatory? How immersed can we be if tensions and histories are so easily called forward? Is it right to have one big European server? Is English-as-universal-default-language a form of virtual world imperialism? Does it say anything of our colonial past? Is it just convenient? How do we ensure comfort and equal participation in online communities? Are alternate zone chats a form of sectioning and isolating?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I hope someone undertakes this as a research project and figures them out.

Until next time,

Ashley

 

*There are, of course, German-speaking guilds, and French-speaking guilds, and even some Spanish-speaking guilds, but (oddly?) most Scandinavian-based guilds insist on using English. Perhaps so the Finns won’t feel left out?

** There are literally 10 pages of search results for Nazi documentaries on the History Channel’s website. 10!!

Come see me speak at Update Show!

Your regularly scheduled programming has been interrupted to bring you this bit of shameless self promotion…

You, yes you, have the glorious opportunity to see me (and loads of people with actual talent) speak in-the-flesh! For FREE!

All you have to do is register for Update‘s event in Media City, Salford. Everything kicks off at 11am on Saturday, 12 April 2014 and the party keeps going till 19:00. There will be loads of developers showing off new games, software, and apps all day in addition to industry (and academic!) talks, tournaments, and networking opportunities. If you’re still standing by 19:00, there will be an afterparty.

You can check out Update’s website for a full list of exhibitors and presenters to whet your appetite and don’t forget to register!

Until next time,

Ashley