teaching computergames and online-community

My job here at the university forces me to teach at least two courses every term. Here’s what I am going to publicly babble about during the upcoming summer-term (24 April to 29 July 2006):

With contemporary sociocultural anthropology’s opening-up towards modernity commodities, their consumption, appropriation, and meaning in diverse cultural milieus and contexts came into focus. Computergames are a true global commodity which not only diffuses via container-shipment, but via the Internet, too—and they are by no means manufactured and played in Europe and North-America only. The artefact computergame features a whole array of aspects which are worthwhile to be looked upon with a sociocultural anthropological gaze. For instance game- and gamercultures, social interaction (in each case on- and offline), the political and societal discourse on computergames, ideologically charged games, “non-western” games, the meaning and appropriation of computergames among diverse subgroups etc. The seminar will start with introductory topics, outlining the phenomenon computergame and its history. Afterwards above named aspects will be belaboured anthropologer-style.

The Internetinfrastructure is the basis for a whole range of sevices (like e.g. www, e-mail, IRC, IM, P2P, Usenet, ftp, etc.). This “new media”—mediators unknown before—do not only enable communication, but especially interpersonal and social interaction. If said interaction reaches a certain density, if the familiarity and mutual trust among the members of a group grows beyond a certain point, then something akin to social structure and culture begins to emerge—things anthropologists are interested in. Compared to the traditional “objects” of sociocultural anthropology and other academical disciplines dealing with culture and society, groups which are forming themselves via electronic media are a relatively young phenomenon. In the first instance the seminar intends to give an idea of online-community. Subsequently the specifical strengths of sociocultural anthropology to understand online-community will be elaborated.

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