(last updated Spring 2012)
About Terra Nova:
Terra Nova is a collaborative and interdisciplinary weblog that was established in September of 2003. In its early years, Terra Nova focused on exploring the social phenomena of "virtual worlds," including MMORPGs, MUDs, and other forms of ludic and non-ludic avatar-based social software. Our authors have included game developers, social scientists, legal scholars, journalists, and many other thoughtful individuals with an interest in the social dimensions of interactive simulations.
Today, Terra Nova has a broader focus. We generally blog about what interests us. Often that involves the intersection of simulation, play, and society. Although a few of the original contributors to the blog have moved on to new fields and new careers, and many of us have a range of interests, we all share a deep interest in the ongoing evolution of games, simulations, and virtual worlds.
Ted Castronova (co-founder) is a leading scholar in the field of online game studies and an expert on the societies of virtual worlds. Among his academic publications on these topics are two books: Synthetic Worlds (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and Exodus to the Virtual World (Palgrave, 2007). Professor Castronova teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the design of games, the game industry, and the management of virtual societies. Outside his academic work, Professor Castronova makes regular appearances in mainstream media (60 Minutes, the New York Times, and The Economist), gives keynotes at major conferences (Austin Game Conference, Digital Games Research Association Conference, Interactive Software Federation of Europe), and consults for business (McKinsey, Vivendi, Forrester).
Julian Dibbell (co-founder) is an author and technology journalist with a particular interest in social systems within online communities. His 1993 article "A Rape in Cyberspace," detailed attempts of LambdaMOO, an online community, to quantify and deal with lawbreaking in its midst. The article was later included in Dibbell's book, My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World. Additionally, Dibbell has chronicled the evolution of online worlds for Wired Magazine, and has written about his attempt to make a living playing MMORPGs in the book Play Money: or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot. Julian is a non-resident fellow of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and he previously served as George A. Miller Visiting Professor of Media at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dan Hunter (co-founder) is a Professor of Law at New York Law School. He is an expert in internet law, intellectual property, and artificial intelligence and cognitive science models of law. He joins the New York Law School faculty from the University of Melbourne Law School (Australia) and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He holds a Ph.D. from Cambridge University on the nature of legal reasoning, as well as computer science and law degrees from Monash University (Australia) and a Master in Laws from the University of Melbourne. Dan held a Chair in Law at the University of Melbourne and was a tenured faculty member at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, from 2000-2007, and where he received the Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2000, and where he still teaches as an adjunct faculty member. Prior to joining Wharton he taught on the law faculty at Cambridge University.
Greg Lastowka (co-founder a.k.a. greglas) is a Professor of Law at Rutgers University. He is the authors of Virtual Justice (Yale Press, 2010). Greg teaches and researches in the field of intellectual property. He is an expert on technology and law and his opinions have been quoted in publications such as Nature, The Economist, Scientific American, and the New York Times. He is a co-director of the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law. Greg earned his B.A. summa cum laude at Yale College in 1991. From 1994-1996, he served with the United States Peace Corps in Turkmenistan, where he was the co-author of the first Turkmen-English dictionary. He earned his J.D. from the University of Virginia in 2000. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2004, Professor Lastowka clerked for Judge Walter K. Stapleton on the Third Circuit and practiced intellectual property and technology litigation at Dechert LLP. While at Dechert, he was pro bono co-counsel for Ken Hamidi in the landmark case of Intel Corp. v. Hamidi.
Richard Bartle is a British writer and game researcher, best known for being the co-author of MUD1, the first persistent virtual world, which subsequently spawned the MUD genre. He is one of the pioneers of the MMORPG industry. Professor Bartle teaches in the Department of Computing and Electronic Systems at Essex University, supervising courses on computer game design as part of the department's degree course on computer game development. In 2003, he published Designing Virtual Worlds, a book about the history, ethics, structure, and technology of virtual worlds. Professor Bartle is also known for his studies of player personality types in MUDs. In 2005 at the Game Developers Choice Awards Richard Bartle was awarded the "First Penguin Award" (now called "The Pioneer Award") for his part in creating the first MUD.
Robert Bloomfield is a Professor of Accounting at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Professor Bloomfield has used laboratory experiments to examine the effects of financial market regulations on investor welfare, and to explore how psychological forces can alter the behavior of financial markets. Professor Bloomfield is an advocate for serious uses of virtual worlds for education and distance collaboration. He hosts the weekly Metanomics event series in Second Life, which explores business and policy aspects of new technology. Bloomfield virtual world activities have been covered extensively in the media, from BusinessWeek and The New York Times to CFO Magazine, Technology Review.
Betsy Book has participated in, managed and developed a wide range of community focused products, from text-based message boards and chat rooms to 3D virtual worlds. Over the course of her career, Betsy has developed co-branded web sites for iVillage, served as the VP of Product Development for the ecommerce site Flooz.com, and has managed large-scale moderation and reporting programs for entertainment industry clients such as AOL, MTV, The-N, Showtime, Country Music Television, and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. In 2003, Betsy launched Virtual Worlds Review, a web-based guide to social virtual worlds. She has written several papers about the roles advertising, branding, and tourism play in these spaces.
Timothy Burke is a Professor of History at Swarthmore College. His main field of specialty is modern African history, specifically southern Africa, but he has also worked on U.S. popular culture and on computer games. He teaches courses including surveys of African history, the environmental history of Africa, the social history of consumption, history of leisure and play, and a cultural history of the idea of the future. He is the author of Lifebuoy Men, Lux Women: Commodification, Consumption and Cleanliness in Modern Zimbabwe (Duke University Press, 1996) and the co-author of Saturday Morning Fever: Growing Up With Cartoon Culture (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1999). He is also the author of the popular “Easily Distracted” weblog.
Mia Consalvo is the Canada Research Chair in Game Studies and Design at Concordia University in Montreal. She is the author of Cheating: Gaining Advantage of Videogames and is currently writing a book about Japan's influence on the videogame industry and game culture. She has published her work in Critical Studies in Media Communication, Games & Culture, Game Studies, Convergence and many other journals. She has presented her work at professional as well as academic conferences including regular presentations at the Game Developers Conference. She is the President of the Association of Internet Researchers and has held positions at MIT, Ohio University, Chubu University in Japan and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Bruce Damer is a leading expert in the subject of Avatars, the representation of people in 2D and 3D graphical Cyberspace worlds. In the mid 1990s he formed the Contact Consortium, the first organization and conference dedicated to the subject and authored the first book "Avatars!". In the past several years Bruce has headed up DigitalSpace, a company which now provides NASA with 3D modeling and visualization for the future of space exploration. Bruce and his wife Galen Brandt live on a farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains where they host a hippie bus art and music studio and stage performances, raise pot bellied pigs and house a large vintage computer collection in their barn called the DigiBarn Computer Museum. More about Bruce at his homepage damer.com.
Nic Ducheneaut a is a Senior Member of the Research Staff in the Computing Science Lab at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). Nic uses a combination of methods (including data mining and social network analysis) to study and design systems to better support collaboration in online spaces, with a recent focus on 3D virtual worlds and massively multiplayer online games. He conducted the largest and longest (to date) study of social dynamics in World of Warcraft, collecting and analyzing data on the interactions between more than 500,000 characters over 2 years. Nic obtained his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Outside of work, he enjoys sailing and restoring boats, especially older designs based on the CCA rule.
Josh Fairfield is an Associate Professor of Law at Washington and Lee School of Law. He is an expert in the law and regulation of e-commerce and videogames, Prof. Fairfield’s research and scholarship explores the law and economics of online contracts and the application of standard economic models to virtual environments. In addition, Prof. Fairfield is one of the nation’s leading voices in the analysis of virtual worlds, such as the popular Second Life. He has briefed intelligence officials on terrorist activity and law enforcement within virtual worlds and has written on strategies for protecting children online.
Lisa Galarneau is a graduate of the Department of Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. As a cultural/digital/cyborg anthropologist intrigued by contemporary material cultures, kinship, learning, and social dynamics, her doctoral research focused on social learning associated with virtual worlds, and she continues to explore the promise and possibility of digital spaces. Lisa resides in Seattle, WA and has previously done research at Microsoft Games User Research, Microsoft Surface and Intel.
Elizabeth Lane Lawley is the director of the Lab for Social Computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where she is also an associate professor of Interactive Games & Media. Her current teaching and research interests focus on social computing technologies such as weblogs, wikis, virtual worlds, collaborative information retrieval, and gender imbalances in technology and education.
Thomas Malaby is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His principal research interest is in the relationships among institutions, unpredictability, and technology. Other areas of interest include social theory, modernity and institutional legitimacy, and performance theory. His first book, Gambling Life: Dealing in Contingency in a Greek City (University of Illinois Press), explored human attitudes toward risk and chance through an examination of the practice of gambling in Crete. His second book, Making Virtual Worlds: Linden Lab and Second Life (Cornell University Press, 2009), is an ethnographic examination of Linden Lab and its relationship to the virtual world it has created, Second Life.
Bob Moore works as a Senior Research Scientist at Yahoo! Research in the Internet Experiences group. He recently worked as the lead game designer for Multiverse Places. Prior to Multiverse, he worked as a researcher at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he started the PlayOn project and collaborated with Nic Ducheneaut, Eric Nickell, Nick Yee and Cabell Gathman. PlayOn examined social life in multiple virtual worlds using micro-interaction analysis, virtual ethnography and social network analysis. Bob has published several papers on the design of avatar interaction systems and virtual public spaces in academic journals and has spoken at numerous conferences on virtual worlds.
Jessica Mulligan is a 26-year veteran of the online game industry with extensive experience in producing and managing online entertainment and massively multiplayer persistent worlds. Before returning to the ranks of independent consultants, she oversaw the direction and development of Turbine’s award-winning massively-multiplayer online game franchise, Asheron’s Call, as the Executive Producer and Creative Director. Jess has been involved in the design, development or management of more than 50 online games, including a dozen massively-multiplayer games. Her most recent book, “Developing Online Games: An Insider’s Guide,” with co-author with Bridgette Patrovsky, was released in the US by New Riders in March 2003 and has since been published worldwide in several languages, including Korean and Chinese.
Eric Nickell is a software engineer at Google. Previously he was a researcher in PARC’s Computing Science Lab. His work explored how data harvested from multi-player virtual worlds could help illuminate their social nature. Since receiving a B.S. from Caltech in 1980, Eric has spent time as a video game designer, developing high-speed imaging software, and creating research software prototypes, as well as living and doing language- and culture-learning for several years in an isolated village in Southeast Asia. He also holds an M.A. from Fuller Theological Seminary.
Cory Ondrejka works at Facebook. He is a software developer and angel investor. He was the first Chief Technology Officer of Linden Lab, makers of Second Life. With Philip Rosedale, Ondrejka co-founded Second Life and played a significant role in the architecture of the product. After leaving Linden Lab, Ondrejka became Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy for the EMI Group. Ondrejka is a former US Navy officer and graduate of the US Naval Academy. He earned a joint undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Weapons and Systems Engineering, and has the distinction of being the first Annapolis graduate to do so.
Ren Reynolds is a full time consultant, part time journalist and some time philosopher based in the UK. He is co-founder of the strategic consultancy and ideas shop Size of a Planet. Ren spends his time researching and writing about the implications of technology. This ranges from strategic market plans for global companies such as Cable and Wireless and white papers for companies such as IBM, to academic papers and philosophy based articles. His primary academic interest is the ethics of technology and he now specializes in the study of computer games and virtual environments. A full list of his publications can be found at http://www.renreynolds.com/.
Bonnie Ruberg is a third-year PhD student who specializes in sexuality in both French literature and new media. Her fields of interest include surrealism, the Marquis de Sade, video games, internet culture, and the textual embodiment of perversion. Outside of grad school, she has also worked as a journalist for publications like The Village Voice and The Economist covering online sex and games. In particular she’s interested in turning the lens of academic analysis onto the “illegitimate” and non-traditional: pornography, outsider art, fan fiction, cybersex transcripts.
Mike Sellers is the CEO and Chief Alchemist at Online Alchemy. He has consulted on and designed numerous online/MMO games. His experience includes co-founding two successful online game companies prior to Online Alchemy: Archetype Interactive (acquired 1996) and The Big Network (acquired 1999). He also spent three years at Electronic Arts (Maxis, Origin). He has spoken and published numerous times in the areas of user-centered design and game development. His primary interest is in advancing the state of the art in the design, development, deployment, and ongoing service of online games.
Constance Steinkuehler is currently a Senior Policy Analyst at the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President. She advises the executive branch on national policy decisions relating to the impact of video games and also how play relates to learning. For the duration of her position with OSTP, Steinkuehler is on leave from her position as an Assistant Professor in the Digital Media program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Constance is a founding fellow of the Games+Learning+Society Initiative and chairs the annual Games, Learning & Society Conference held each summer in Madison, Wisconsin.
T.L. Taylor is an Associate Professor in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. Previously she was an Associate Professor at the Center for Computer Games Research and a founding member of the Center for Network Culture at the IT University of Copenhagen. She has been working in the field of internet and multi-user studies for over fifteen years and has published on topics such as play and experience in online worlds, values in design, intellectual property, co-creative practices, avatars and digital embodiment, gender and gaming, and e-sports. Her new book about professional computer gaming, Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming (MIT Press, 2012) has just been published. She is also the author of Play Between Worlds: Exploring Online Game Culture (MIT Press, 2006) which used her multi-year ethnography of EverQuest to explore issues related to massively multiplayer spaces. Her co-authored handbook on ethnography and virtual worlds (Princeton University Press) will be out summer 2012.
Dmitri Williams is an associate professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, where he is a part of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities (APOC). He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 2004. His research focuses on the social and economic impacts of new media, with a focus on online games. Williams was the first researcher to use online games for experiments, and to undertake longitudinal research on video games. He continues to study the psychology of online populations, with projects involving community, identity, sexuality, economics and neuroscience. His work has also been featured in several press accounts, most recently on NPR, and in publications including the Economist, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times and others. Williams has testified before the U.S. Senate on video games.
Nick Yee is an American researcher who studies self-representation and social interaction in virtual environments. Yee earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from Haverford College (with a concentration in computer science) and received his Ph.D. in communication from Stanford University in 2007. He is a research scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center in California. The Daedalus Project, his research into the psychology and sociology of MMORPGs, has collected survey data from over 40,000 game players. The research that has resulted from these interviews has been cited extensively by game scholars, game developers, and popular media. Yee's research has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, and CNN International, among other media outlets.
Unggi Yoon is a jurist living in the Republic of Korea. He received his law degree from Yonsei University Law College and his graduate degree from Yonsei Graduate School. He became a judge in Busan, Korea. His is a member of the Gamestudy group, an active legal scholar, and has translated works like Larry Lessig's "Free Culture" into Korean.