« From the Desk of Eric Nickell | Main | Mind Bank får banktillstånd - Entropia it's a bank! »

Mar 24, 2009



Ooh, I WILL ATTEND this year. Yay. NYC in June. Can't wait.


Well, as a doctoral student who doesn't have the chips to throw in to get up to State of Play, I figured I'd throw out my own perspective to the stated questions here. This will go considerably over the character suggestion/limit, but as there's no discourse in this thread, I don't see it as a big problem. :)

The TL;DR is, I don't think there's anything wrong with the field and its fertility; I think it's instead the farmers.

(This comes from the perspective of someone at an institution that doesn't have champions for VW research, so I admit that limitation up front.)

A big challenge I see is that VW research is very problematic to include in research agendas because it's hard to explain the importance of it to department heads and tenure committees since it's so interdisciplinary in nature. It's basically even sprinklings of sociology, information sciences, communications and psychology, and if you're not into VWs, the blend is esoteric and, well, weird.

It's a case where, if you want to undertake VWs as your primary agenda, you've got to work twice as hard to show your qualifications for the jobs that are out there. And in an academic environment that already mandates 4+ pubs a year to just get your foot in the door, that's damn hard to do - especially when it's already hard enough to get in the top-tier journals you need for tenure.

VW research doesn't have the grant money out there to support getting in as a rainmaker, either. There's some out there, sure, but nothing like the money pouring out of foundations in (to take my discipline, journalism/electronic media for an example) researching the "new media solution". The lack of cash available for it is definitely tamping down research as the recession is putting pressure on more and more faculty to pay their own salaries in grants, as inflation goes up and salaries stay stagnant.

For the people that would otherwise be interested in the research, it's serious survival mode going on. When Second Life / EQ were big in the headlines, you could justify your research to colleagues just on the basis of their popularity - they didn't have to understand it. That's just not the case now.

Another problem is that we need -so- much foundational and, well, unsexy research in VWs. I'm incredibly cheered that Dr. Williams carries the torch for this, but it's just not enough. For quants to be able to come up with strong statements, we need cross-environment reliability studies, and on a massive scale that I just don't think there's the will to perform right now. The literature's coming out in a steady trickle, but it's not enough.

And the publishing paradigm just isn't agile enough right now to get the pubs you need and still produce relevant literature. By the time you get published, hell, the game you studied might be -dead-. When the prevailing idea is that paying thousands of dollars to publish stuff yourself is a better alternative than submitting to the houses, you know that academic publishing is screwed. :)


This movie looks great. Though I haven't gone to see it yet, if it's even half as good as the UK mini-series, audiences should be flocking to it. I mean Russell Crowe almost always delivers. The TV trailer (http://displacedbrett.wordpress.com/2009/04/21/state-of-play) shows Crowe looking commanding as always, and now that I see him in action, I can live with Ben Affleck playing this role. Also, it features a great song, "Unstoppable" by Minutes Til Midnight that does a great job of setting the mood. Anyway, I'm way excited for this film - it looks to be the last of a dying breed, the high-budget, adult drama/thriller.


Displaced Brett -- you're confused!


Yes, but he gives me a perfect opportunity to remind you to register for the conference soon. We have a full slate of speakers--actually we have more than a full slate. We're looking for a good general contractor who can work with slate to find more space--and room for only 100 more attendees. Which is nice place to be if you're the organizer. Not so great if you're someone who wants to attend and registers too late to get in...

Oh, egregious marketing-type email is appended:


Hey all

We're pushing ahead with the planning for State of Play VI: Plateau and things are going (strangely) well.

We're not big fans of marketing, but now that we're eight weeks out from the kickoff we thought that we should start telling you a little more about what we have planned so that you can be brought to your senses and realize that you really need to come join us in our new building in NYC in June. So, starting today, every Friday we'll send out a few more details about the conference. Here is our first update:

Our opening keynote is going to be given by Raph Koster, President of Metaplace. As pretty much anyone who knows anything about MMOGs knows, Raph was the lead designer on the online world ULTIMA ONLINE, which first brought online worlds to the mass market. He was also Chief Creative Officer for Sony Online Entertainment, makers of EVERQUEST, and he led the design of STAR WARS GALAXIES. He's also an amazingly vibrant and deep thinker about the nature of virtual worlds and MMOGs. We couldn't be more happy that he's going to be kicking us off.
In the next week we'll start posting details of the panel sessions, but we thought we'd tell you about one or two every week. The first one we wanted to tell you about is the panel on using virtual worlds for public diplomacy: "Opportunities and challenges when governments participate in play." This panel is all about the issues that governments face when entering virtual worlds, and the opportunities for people (developers, players, citizens) in using these spaces for civic engagement. The panel will feature Julie Germany (Director, Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet), Elizabeth Losh (author of "Virtualpolitik: An Electronic History of Government Media-Making in a Time of War, Scandal, Disaster, Miscommunication, and Mistakes"), William May (Senior Technology Advisor at the U.S. State Department), and Jean Miller (previously the head of international initiatives at Linden Lab), and will be moderated by Tori Horton (Institute for Network Culture, USC-Annenberg). Details of each of these speakers are on our website, along with the fifty-five (!!) other speakers we haven't featured yet but will talk about in the coming weeks.

Oh, one final thing. Space is filling really quickly. We only have about 100 places available at present, unless we can find some way to move the walls on the building. Don't delay registering, coz you could easily miss out.

More next week...

The comments to this entry are closed.