Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Women, computers and games

Women in Games in Dundee is being interesting, exhausting and frustrating, exactly the way a good conference should be. There is a very strong wireless network in the conference area but no way to connect to it, so no chance to blog until this morning, when I have treated myself to some hours of connectedness from the hotel. Dundee is a pretty little town, Scottish in ways I thought only belonged to television series made by BBC, but the hotel is very modern and comfortable. My sore throath was sufficiently healed by Monday that I could speak, but Tuesday I collapsed in the afternoon and just went back to rest. Travel, stress, alchohol and a lack of sleep may not be the perfect medicine.

The conference itself is the kind of eclectic and frustrating mix I have come to expect of media conferences, whether it's "new" or "old" media. You have your sharp analysts, your dedicated students, your artists with no clue but looking for a venue, your powerful professionals, your prestigous names whose mere presence is enough, and the village idiot. Who, of course, in this case is me, so stop guessing right away.

A conference with no tradition and no well-developed discipline behind it will always have moments of "Ooops, am I in the right place?" In this case what is painfully obvious is that Games is still a new "thing". It's easy to know what a book is and means, but a game? Is it a game if it's made on the computer and you can play with it, but it has none of the features of a classically defined game but the limited arena - which, frankly, is unavoidable once you use a computer. While pretty unlimited in some ways, the computer is an arena seperate from the flesh world and can be seen as a playspace in its own right. But it is not automatically a game.

So, I have a bookful of notes, and a couple of interesting business cards, and some nice people I want to meet again, and still half a day of conference to go. Tonight I will be sleeping in Aberdeen, to be close to the airport in the morning, and tomorrow I am home, and it's been real, and fun.

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