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Oct 04, 2005



Congrats Betsy Book, Ron Meiners, Nick Yee, Greg Lastowka, Dave Rickey and Larry Yaeger.

I have to say this looks like a brilliant plan!



Glad you guys had fun! Sorry I had to bail out on short notice.



Your claim that this was all "fair and square" rings hollow to this Syslander. I am assigning the top reporters of the Second Life Herald to expose the Brownies on your judges panel and follow the money in the Dibbell/Rickey conspiracy. Justice will prevail, by the Chalice of Saethryd I swear it!


Pirates! Ghosts! And augmented-rality dogs with cranial implants!

Yup - it was one of those weekends :)


My photos are up. Mostly of Julian dancing with toilet paper.


Urizenus Sklar>Your claim that this was all "fair and square" rings hollow to this Syslander.

Hey, Sysland would have won if you hadn't spent 8 crowns on the chalice!

Come to that, any group could have won if the criteria or the weights for the criteria had been different. Judging in the "freedom" category was pretty well a lottery, for example (although the judges didn't actually resort to dice).

For what it's worth (and I'm coming close to violating the sanctity of the judges' conclave here), we had a quick "who do you think should win?" vote before we added up the numbers (whereupon we found out who actually did win), and the results were 3 votes for Aroland, 1 vote each for Thalo and Koithuo. Sadly, we didn't have a "who should only win over your dead body" vote...

For the mini-maxers among you who want to know how the winners were decided "for next time", here are the actual Byzantine steps we took:

1) Each judge assigned marks however they felt most comfortable in all categories (criteria) for all teams.
2) Using their marks, each judge went through each category ordering the teams. 5 points went to the top team, 4 to the next and so on.
3) All the judges' marks were added up on a category-by-category basis. At this point, we had a set of aggregated marks for each team for each category.
4) The aggregated marks were ordered within each category and new marks assigned from 5 down to 1.
5) Weights were applied where indicated in the rules.
6) The points were added up and the final results calculated.

This mechanism had some disadvantages, for example if we all felt that one team was way in front in some category then it still only got 5 points and the second team 4 points, even if in aggregate terms it was streets ahead. However, it also had the advantage that it meant judges did not come to blows, mainly because none of us had the faintest clue which team had won until we added everything up in step 6.

There were, I think, 3 ties in the aggregate totals, which we dealt with on a case-by-case basis (bearing in mind the "every team has to win at least 2 categories" rule, which was a convenient tie-breaker).

There were some anomalies between the judges. For example, Palvi won the "most technical team" award, on the basis of their interminable discussions as to the mechanisms by which data could be considered "clean", as witnessed and endured by myself and Daniel James. However, with only 3 of the 5 judges circulating and 1 of those not taking notes concerning the hidden, "fun" categories, it turned out come the voting that Palvi scored pretty well lowest in the technical categories.

Overall, the marking was done fairly and honestly. There was some mention as to what to do about Aroland, on the grounds that their proposal didn't actually involve an avatar-mediated environment, and as to Koithuo's breaking of the magic circle by contacting universities with regards to forming joint projects, but the judges who were concerned about these matters had factored them into their marks anyway.

Any unfairness is clearly related only to the nature of the marking criteria as laid down by Ted, and therefore only he should be targeted by rogue assassins from disgruntled teams.



Some of the those photos are begging for further elucidation. Toilet paper? Dogs with cranial implants? Virtual world mavens drinking havily? Well, maybe not the last bit...


I should also mention Bridget Agabra Goldstein as the irreplaceable co-organizer of the event. My inattention to the job of thanking everyone properly - as evidenced by omitting her on the front page - is testimony to her contribution. Without her, NOTHING would have happened.

In fact, I think I better go amend the front page right now.


Richard>Any unfairness is clearly related only to the nature of the marking criteria as laid down by Ted, and therefore only he should be targeted by rogue assassins from disgruntled teams.

Aroland's proposal that did not score all that well on the double-weight categories, which involved immediacy, low-cost, and rapid start-up. Aroland scored well on Impact and Contribution to Knowledge, as it should have. But you got double points for building a game right now, that's all.

In the end, the five proposals were so close in terms of substantive judgment that the points from the previous day, the artifacts and so on, were very influential.

Also some have said that those elements of the game (which forced teams to break off from their main proposal and brainstorm ideas that would be shopped to other teams) were a distraction from the main point of the exercise. Hey! I'm the designer! (I know Richard is with me here.) I put the scoring where I want to! You paltry players don't determine what the point of the exercise is, I do! And I say, you have to spend some time coming up with ideas that you trade to others, as well as engaging in public acts (artifact use) that demonstrate where your interests and fears are! So there!

The best moment was when (I think) Raph Koster said something was wrong, and I grinned evilly and hissed 'working as intended.' Very satisfying.


In the end, although we had a solid proposal that scored second in the judging, the tactical give-and-take of the poker/artifacts game is where we won (Sysland could have beat us in three different ways, and if an overly-bold move on the last round of brain-storming/idea-trading hadn't paid off {thanks, Betsy}, we wouldn't really have had a chance). So the lessons there were: Take the Sycamore Poker seriously, and use the Artifacts judiciously. Oh, and make sure that when you make a deal, you think through *all* of the ways that the other side can defect. Julian and I conspired to make us first and them third, then he goes and double-crossed us at the last second. I mean, if you can't trust someone to help you fix a game, who can you trust?

All the proposals were solid in their own ways, it was really interesting looking at how Ted stacked the teams to ensure a wide variety of approaches. Thalo, for example, was supposed to have this collaborative, "self sustaining" philosophy, and it actually did (there was no leader in Thalo, I was the resident tactician, not the guy in charge). So we came up with an idea that would be easy to operate in a distributed, piecemeal fashion and improve in semester-sized chunks. Other teams had different philosophies, and went decidedly different (but still viable) directions.

And it was a lot of fun, more than I've enjoyed any other conference I've ever been to. Would have been better if somebody hadn't scheduled the presentations to start at 8am.... Don't you know people needed time to go out and drink? Bad professor, no cookie.


The Steward grins.

Thanks, Ted, for your words. It was a great privilege to work with such a team - academics, designers and those fine students alike. We set out to change the world, just a little, and we did set that ripple in motion. I look forward to playing a part in the structures that will grow from this event.

As noted, the scoring system was complex, and in service of many goals. Unarguably, the Sycamore Poker game did cross pollinate ideas and the text game broke the ice. All told, though, it felt as if the game aspects of points didn't give enough respect to the depth of investment of the teams in their proposals. It is a hard call, to be groundbreaking, but the overall quality of the proposals was a tremendous success. Notes were taken for Ludium 2.0.

The win scenario was apparent in another way, one of my favorite recollections of the event:

One of the participants told me how his group, almost all strangers from very different fields, struggled to find a proposal. They had various work styles and organizational expectations – decision making, planning and execution timetables are differ in corporate and university settings. They spent hours searching, discarding and debating. Finally, they reached a common vision and began to roar. The participant told me how valuable input exploded, and described the rush of creating this space with these disparate people.

How different from a room full of University people saying “If only the game companies would listen to us!” and game people saying “Academics have nothing I need”, both of which I have heard in the last year. In a day and a half, we created collaborative space that nurtured interdisciplinary respect and long lasting professional relationships, in addition to being a hell of a lot of fun.

Except for the part about being busted for playing a card game in a restaurant, illegal in Indiana, and boy are they touchy about it. I really hadn’t considered the corruptive influence before - GTA: SET in the City.

The work continues to bring this process further exposure, and provide more fuel for this fire.


How can you leave out Palvi's undisputed winning of the Mirth of the Queen??? A quick glance at the photographs will demonstrate the sophistication of our approach, and the consummate professionalism with which we went after that most coveted prize.

A tip of the traditional Tahitian headgear to my fellows: Damion, Dimitri, Fred, Jeffrey and Julian for a great group; an idea that will make millions for some astute institution of higher learning; and an extremely fun and laid back approach.

And yes, my thumb has still not healed from the scratches and burns inflicted by that damned lighter. They are truly the devil's tools.



What I mentioned to the esteemed Mr. Castranova after the event was that you get the behavior you incentivize. I'm sure part of Ludium 2.0 will be him mapping his incentivizations with his results. =)

What was really interesting to me was the diversity of the results. We had:
* A proposal to build a new MMO to do social testing.
* A proposal to do sociology testing in an existing MMO.
* A proposal to do a non-MMO geocaching-like experience.
* A proposal to fund more MMO research.
* A proposal to build a framework to make MMO testing much easier.

I don't envy the judges position, as comparing these results to each other was comparing apples to oranges to chainsaws to battleships to raw plutonium. I leave it to the participants to decide if these labels apply to any of the topics in particular.


Ack, sorry Dmitri! Damn vowel-dropping, pre-questioning, clean-testing academics...

(Excellent drummer though.)


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