ethnographical suspense on dm6

The Camping Grounds

With the Fighternight 9 approaching I definitely should have other things on my mind. Namely, ordering the parts of my godbox so that there will be a chance of them arriving in time, and doing some deathmatching in Quake III Arena (Q3A), in spite of training trickjumping moves. But somehow I can not help going on with my strafing musings

When trying to accomplish thick participation as the core methodological approach to the field, at every stage you have to decide how deeply to immerse yourself. Apprenticeship and acquiring embodied knowledge are indespensable to a certain degree, I think. But, out of two reasons, the whole thing has to stop somewhere:

First of all the danger of going native will become virulent. You will loose the last bit of analytically and interpretative distance necessary, and in consequence cease to be an anthropologist. Your reflections on the matter won’t be reflections anymore, but heavily biased accounts of an insider. Your writings will be untterly non-understandable to outsiders as the ethnographical suspense and tension will have vanished. Good ethnography, I am perfectly convinced, relies on ethnographical suspense which, in turn, is born out of the tension between the fieldworker and ‘his tribe’. The reader has to be able to identify herself with the anthropologer, has to feel his efforts to understand, his striving to break through the cultural barrier. Reading an ethnography should be a journey lead by the author—a journey to the cultural other with the ultimate goal to make the obstacles of understanding implode.

Secondly, and that is a sound pragmatic reason, when you have crossed a certain line, the learning will eat up all the time you have at hand. That definitely is the case with trickjumping culture, and time always is the scarcest resource [at least within the caste I belong to].

I will try to illustrate this somewhat detached thoughts by what I am currently dealing with. Although it seems to be marginal and negligible, I think that with the culture of trickjumping I stumbled over something unfolding relevancy into several directions, especially the technical, intellectual, and performative appropriation of computer games; the collective reinterpretation of shooter games into something peaceful, lacking every kind of violence whatsoever; and the strange phenomenon of digital embodied knowledge, its cultural production and redistribution.

The performance side of trickjumping is a central issue, of course, but then again only one aspect of the whole, and it is integrally connected with the practice of trickjumping movies—machinima that is. The former I approached by learning certain techniques myself, strafe-jumping in particular. From the latter I shied away, because it means quite some technical stuff to learn which will be tremendously time consuming, and I deemed that I could not afford that. The other reason for my shying away is that I simply can not perform moves worth showing off in a movie. On the other hand, “in the hands of a skilled producer, even a demo of mediocre skill can be turned into a compelling movie.” Additionally, I thought, by cooking up a humorous plot and style even Teh_Lamerer—that’s me—may be able to cook up a halfway decent movie.

With the next LAN-party dreadfully looming on my agenda’s horizon, I started to deal more with Quake III Arena official maps, because on a LAN there hardly will be matches in obscure trickjumping- or DeFRag-maps. Fooling around in DM6 suddenly made me realize that I indeed can do some astounding looking things there. Appropriating the well-known out-of-the-box maps by mastership is a rewarding task, because every Quake player will recognize the environment and be delighted by watching the feats possible on familiar terrain.

Plus, this in a way also stands in the tradition of speedrunning. Deathmatch is to tricking as kumite is to kata. To the follower of the path of the empty hand, kata means a bequeathed timed sequence of prescribed martial-arts techniques, which are, quite naturally, performed using a confined amount of space. It is that space, dictated by the movements, which is at your disposal to enact your mastership. In a nutshell, two nights ago I started demo recording in Q§DM6 “The Camping Grounds.

Some hours into the night I needed a brake and went haunting the archives of own-age for tricking movies shot in DM6. FireSpit Tricks dm6 [04:29min | .avi | 85MB] is the goods. It has everything, circle- and strafejumps, rocket jumps, plasma climbs, combinations, and a load of incredible overbounces way beyond my reach, as I am a complete looser at exploiting overbounce opportunities. In the movie there is a tremendous example of a sticky overbounce, catapulting the player through almost the whole map at the speed of light.

See what I am doing here? Completely fascinated and delighted myself I am merrilly babbling away on things unseen by, and incomprehensible to the reader—in a jargon nobody is able to understand who isn’t into trickjumping. If you do not know what the hell I am talking about here, please refer to the Wikipedia entry “DeFRaG” which I created in collaboration with the Q3A trickjumping community.

Besides FireSpit’s movie I also had a look into TriCKeD [09:42min | .avi | 197MB] by [Afz]P3z, because the description said, that there were tricks in DM6 as well. Well, there are, and they are mindboggling, but the real burner is found at the end of the movie. While the credits are rolling over the screen, there’s an inlay showing a strafe-run over cos1_beta7b‘s black pads. Those are the hardest pads and they are so far apart that a whole Q3 deathmatch map seems to fit between them. The depicted player does the left one of the two rows virtuously, and then—for sheer humiliation—he does the right row, where the pads are even farther apart … and he does them facing backwards. Granted, I would really appreciate to be able to do likewise, but I definitely won’t set out to learn that.

Anyway, in the meantime watch out for the upcoming dazzling movie “Too many … Teh_Lamerer on DM6”.