It's big news in The Post Chronicle, that Bonnie Nardi has rceived a 100 000$ grant to study the Chinese approach to playing World of Warcraft. The article focuses on the fact that she's studying WoW - from my point of view it's more stunning that she got all that money to do it!
It's going to be interesting to read her conclusions. The attempts I have heard of to penetrate the Chinese gaming culture have so far failed, and any information about what they do will be interesting. However, considering what I am writing about currently (the community practices of gamers), I really hope that she has noticed that a lot of the mods being used by her American gamers are not created solely by Americans. A lot of the modding spring out of European communities, and if she is to play the geographic differences card, it would be a good idea to remember that Europe still hasn't been taken over by the US - even if much of it is part of NATO. Is it an English language thing? Do Europeans and Australians mod their UI as much as the Americans? What about the Russian, French and Spanish servers in Europe? The Japanese?
And that before we start talking about co-use of machines. My small survey, where I suspect not a lot of Chinese are participating, shows that more than 80% of the gamers play on their own machine. I don't think that number is much smaller for US gamers, although Europeans, particularly in the Nordic countries, have a high saturation of technology. But if you play on a machine used by any number of strangers, to modify the UI can become a real source of conflict. There's nothing as annoying as taking over an interface designed for somebody else. Yep, even in the 20 minutes since I read that little piece of news, the questions are popping up like mushrooms - which is a good thing. Nardi has hit an interesting area to question.
Anyway, Mez sent me the link to the news article, and she asked if Bonnie Nardi is a gamer. What can I say but "I sincerely hope so"? It would be too bad if 100 000$ was spent on gamer scholarship ignoring the game.
PS: Of course, I forgot to congratulate Bonnie Nardi. I am such a barbarian, I forget simple things like that. I was too caught up in the topic and the possibilities. But here it is, a few days late: Congratulations!