public displays of play

[Abstract:] As research on virtual worlds gains increasing attention in educational, commercial, and military domains, a consideration of how player populations are ‘reassembled’ through social scientific data is a timely matter for communication scholars. This paper describes a large-scale study of virtual worlds in which participants were recruited at public gaming events, as opposed to through online means, and explores the dynamic relationships between players and contexts of play that this approach makes visible. Challenging conventional approaches to quantitatively driven virtual worlds research, which categorizes players based on their involvement in an online game at a particular point in time, … Continue reading

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games as art

John Maeda’s opinion piece ‘↑Videogames do belong in the Museum of Modern Art‘ has spawned a series of comments, among them ↑this one by Dedwrekka: Actually GTA ['↑Grand Theft Auto'] could be easily described as art.     GTA is about the breakdown of the social contract. Given an open world that responds to their actions, but has no actual effect on them, most players tend to sit down and go on long rampages in a short amount of time.     Part of what makes games art is the interaction between game and player. In that sense, a person … Continue reading

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players unleashed

Players Unleashed is a thought provoking and well-argued reconstruction of the history of digital games and the role of player modifications to such artifacts. Focusing on the wide-ranging universe of mods for the best selling game The Sims, Sihvonen presents a cogent and persuasive argument for the importance of such activities, and in doing so helps us understand the vital role that players have claimed in the development and evolution of digital games. (Mia Consalvo) SIHVONEN, TANJA. 2011. ↑Players unleashed! Modding The Sims and the culture of gaming. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. … Continue reading

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science as servant

A 1946 advertisement for the ↑Bendix Corporation, scanned and put online by Paul Malon—↑click for larger versions, in order to be able to read all of the small text, too. The slogan ‘Creative engineering makes science your obedient servant’ not only perfectly sums up the immediate post-war era stance of absolute belief in technological feasibility, but also unmistakingly voices where science’s proper place in society should be. I maintain that the understanding of said era is quintessential for understanding our contemporary world: In present day society, the term ‘science’ has great potency. Not only is ‘science’ more or less equivalent … Continue reading

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the painted smile

The fifth of November it is, and indeed we do remember … The next problem was the creation of the main character and the actual setting for the strip. Since ↑Dave [Lloyd] and I both wanted to do something that would be uniquely British rather than emulate the vast amount of American material on the market, the setting was obviously going to be England. Furthermore, since both Dave and myself share a similar brand of political pessimism, the future would be pretty grim, bleak and totalitarian thus giving us a convenient antagonist to play our hero off against. Not unnaturally, … Continue reading

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latour’s cyberpunkish world

In a review of Bruno Latour’s ‘We have never been modern’ (Latour 1993 [1991]) by Barbara Tuchanska (1995) I just found the following paragraph trying to describe the world Latour paints: The reality of our everyday life is populated by computers that transform all spheres of life, frozen embryos, cable television networks, psychotropic drugs, whales equipped with radar sounding devices, sexuality changed by AIDS, poverty and the exploitation of man, totalitarian political systems destroying ecosystems, deforestation, the ozone hole, and thousands of other monsters that are the hybrids of nature and culture. Now, if you got time, compare that to … Continue reading

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why technologies fail

Boingboing’s Maggie Koerth-Baker has written a fine column for the New York Times Magazine called ‘↑Why your car isn’t electric,’ investigating the question ↑why some technologies fail, and others succeed. For a deeper understanding of the matter at hand and and the examples used, I recommend Pinch & Bijker 1984 and Pfaffenberger 1992. PFAFFENBERGER, BRYAN. 1992. Technological Dramas. Science, Technology, & Human Values 17(3): 282-312. PINCH, TREVOR J. UND WIEBE E. BIJKER. 1984. The social construction of facts and artefacts: Or how the sociology of science and the sociology of technology might benefit each other. Social Studies of Science 14(3): … Continue reading

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technology, society, and the scope of anthropology

The ↓next biannual conference of the German Anthropological Association (↑GAA) will take place exactly one year from today, from 2nd to 5th October 2013, in Mainz, Germany. I am organizing a workshop there, called ‘Technology, society, and the scope of anthropology.’ The official call for papers will be sent out by the GAA around end of this month, but here you already have it: Technologies like—for example, but not exclusively—digital electronics in all its guises, on the one hand permeate everyday life on a global scale and at an accelerating pace. On the other hand, hardly surprising, those are omnipresent … Continue reading

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arab spring media

My friend ↑Vít Šisler just notified me via email that ↑CyberOrient 6(1) is out. Vít writes: [The new issue] aims for critical and evidence-based evaluation of the use of social media in the Arab Spring, the coverage of the Arab Spring in cyberspace and beyond, and the remediation and appropriation between social media and traditional media outlets, including satellite TVs and the press. See also ↵anthropologists on egypt, ↵irevolution in bahrain, and especially ↵heretics house tripoli and its follow-up ↵teliasonera’s black boxes. For those into computer games, check out ↑Vít’s publications, ↵computer games, Islam, and politics, and ↵tahta al-hisar—under siege. … Continue reading

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talking science studies

This comes very handy as I am right now putting the final touches to the class ‘Science and Technology Studies’ which I’ll deliver the coming semester: Thomas Lohninger, founder of, and force behind ↑Talking Anthropology, has done an interview on science studies with ↑Ulrike Felt: ↓TA43—Wissenschaftsforschung [in German | 01:55:54]. I haven’t listened to it yet, but the comprehensive description and given links do look very promising. Hopefully the two hours are suited as introductory material for the students. … Continue reading

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