Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Jill is in Copenhagen at Nordic Interactive, and she reports on a vodoo-doll which affects the screen of a random user when stabbed.

This sounds like Mr Bungle and his vodoo-dolls in Lambda-MOO, as Dibbell reported the incident. Interesting reference to ancient MOO history, I think.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Right now I am reading a book by Thomas J. Roberts: An Aesthetics of Junk Fiction. It has some original views, such as describing the rejection of literature of a genre you don't like as an "allergic" reaction. I wonder if such antipathy follows content or if it also applies to form? Is the reaction against MOO's among mudders, or the ice-front between those who prefer LpMUD or DikuMUD of the same nature as between those who read fantasy and those who read modern romances?

Monday, October 29, 2001

Game Research
This link is on several other blogs with games as a topic: I think it's so good that I want it here as well, to be certain I know where to find it.
This joke which Hilde sent has nothing to do with anything in particular, but it does give a hint of what it's like to be a mother and PhD student:

On One Condition

A woman was sitting at a bar enjoying an after-work cocktail with her girlfriends when an exceptionally tall, handsome, extremely sexy young man entered. He was so striking that the woman could not take her eyes away from him.

The young man noticed her overly-attentive stare and walked directly toward her. Before she could offer her apologies for being so rude, the young man said to her, "I'll do anything, absolutely anything, that you want me to do, no matter how kinky, for $20, on one condition."

Flabbergasted, the woman asked, "What is the condition?"

The young man replied, "You have to tell me what you want me to do in just three words."

The woman considered his proposition for a moment, reached into her purse and slowly counted out four $5 bills, which she pressed into the young man's hand along with her address. She looked deeply into his eyes, and slowly, meaningfully said...

"Clean my house."
OK, I found the translation here: Hauge

It's the Dream
by Olav Hauge

It's the dream we carry in secret
that something miraculous will happen
that must happen --
that time will open
that the heart will open
that springs will gush --
that the dream will open
that one morning we will glide into
some harbor we didn't know was there..

Your Way
same poem, different translation. I think I prefer this version, even if there are annoying typos in the presentation.
No Cairn
A not totally satisfactory translation of one of my favourite poems by Olav H. Hauge.
Buedikt av Olav H. Hauge []
more poems, still in Norwegian
A poem in Norwegian today. I'll try and look for a translation, or perhaps a site with other poems of this wonderful Norwegian poet: Olav H. Hauge.

Det er den draumen

Det er den draumen me ber på
at noko vedunderleg skal skje,
at det må skje -
at tidi skal opna seg
at hjarta skal opna seg
at dører skal opna seg
at berget skal opna seg
at kjeldor skal springa -
at draumen skal opna seg,
at me ein morgundstund skal glida inn
på ein våg me ikkje har visst um.

Olav H. Hauge

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

Aftenposten Interaktiv - Nett og IT - Her kommer bloggerne!
Aftenposten has discovered blogs, and interviewed Bjørn Stærk and me about it. So for the curious, there's a fairly recent picture taken by a student with the same first name as my daughter (there's a coincidence, it's not that common a name in Norway).

The article is in Norwegian, and it doesn't say much new compared to what's been said in the US news about blogs, but it does have that special angle of showing my face and linking to my blog, so I guess it's a pretty special piece after all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

A little preview for the curious: the topics for tomorrow's presentation translated from New Norwegian to English:

MUDs. What's a Good Game?

What is a Multiple User Dungeon?
What are the rules for good and bad play, and who decides them?
What's aesthetics?
How do I find the aesthetics of online role-playing games?

The presentation is a precursor to a conference on Digital Broadcasting here in Volda where I will be busy the next couple of days, thereby missing Jill and Lisbeth's smaller gathering: Cyber*.
I am supposed to talk for an hour here tomorrow.
I guess I should slink back to work and figure out what to say.
Oww, so sore...
I finished putting down cork tiles on the floor of the spare room where the kids will be reigning supreme once it's all done. There's something immensely satisfying in seeing that I am able to do things like that. My father would have laughed himself silly that I didn't manage to get the floor all even, but hey, he's dead, he can't come back and criticise, so I can have my errors in peace. That's the good thing about being an "adult".

Monday, October 22, 2001

This morning I have been avoiding to start drafting a presentation I am giving Wednesday - instead I have been playing around with blogback, making it work for my "play-blog" as well as for the not too active discussion site for the information education (in Norwegian).

But do I want it here? Do I want to have comments on what I write, or is the liberty to speak without being checked too precious for me? As some of you might have noted, I don't have my email here - that is because while I welcome emails, I have a little treshold... if people really want to get hold of me it's possible through the volda college link, or just through searching for my name on the net - but it means people have to WANT to reach me. At times I have been avoiding MUDs when I knew that I had posted something controversial, not wanting to read the replies. Still, I love feed-back, and finding that others have mentioned me is very inspiring, as is learning that others have read my blog.

I'll write a little, think, and see.... perhaps I'll be daring. Perhaps.
For Single Men Only - Helpful Hints for the Helpless
What a way to sell hair-conditioner! I am impressed, not just with the misused quotation marks (which is why I looked in there).

Friday, October 19, 2001

One Friday night in Greenwich Village, Yoko looked seriously at matthew and said: "I watched from Brooklyn, the television, I could see second plane glide into the building, and then I turn around and I could watch the smoke cloud rise. It was totally superrealistic." matthew, grumpy and tired, paused in feeding her the cherries from the sangria to growl over the word. "It's not a word. there is no such thing as super realism. It's realism or it's surrealism." I nicked the cherry on his spoon, then poured more sangria in my glass, letting Yoko share the cherries but making sure I had my fill of the drink. Pressing hands against the cool, dark slate of the tables I was holding still, aware that the stench carried by the wind up the street outside was as superrealistic as it comes, unwilling to face the stubborn denial of this man who spent his working days with the smell reinforcing the image of death and fire seared into his memory.

The cherries eaten, the sangria gone, a cup of coffee to boost us on the long subway-ride out to Brooklyn, and the superrealism was forgotten to the pain of my blisters. After I discovered that my legs don't look bad I love displaying them, wearing short skirts and high heels, suffering in a different way from the years when I hated my body, hiding it behind too large clothes and punishing myself with guilt for being inches too tall, too voluptous, too feminine in a world where power is masculine. Now I make that punishment physical, my shoes stained from the realism of broken blisters; the thought of superrealism lost.

Two weeks later, a Friday again, but Yoko is at the NYU, at 8th street, matthew is trapped in his office in Wall Street and I am slowly warming in my office in Volda, when the phone rings. I can't see who calls, but these days it's normally my mother, my husband, my kids... or matthew. And it's him, quickly, hurriedly telling me, sharing a snippet bringing up the memory of that warm, fun evening with Yoko: "I just wanted to tell you, superrealism is a word now."

Yes, you are right. And so is photorealism and hyperrealism, all of them words for that dreadful realism, the feeling of the real world being too real, overwhelmingly real, created to the point of being unreal but with every single detail of reality present. The word, the voice, the memory of Yoko's accented account of her fear and outrage carries the smell of chemicals, dust, smoke and decay all the way across the Atlantic. Yes, there is such a thing as superrealism now.
NRK - Innenriks
Kristin Krohn Devold as Minister of Defence in the new government of Norway. Well, she has always been firm and had good discipline... Looking great helps, I bet. But I have to admit I never saw her in that role, even way back when she was part of a noisy, happy high-school class in Ålesund, and knew how to make her voice heard through the din.

I have disagreed with her politically from the first discussion in that class-room, but I think she's intelligent, clear and efficient, and I'll pay a lot more attention to the Department of Defence as long as this government lasts. Way to go, Kristin!
uzinagaz naturel biologique et chimique
OK, so I tried New York Defender as well as Gonzalo's Kabul Kaboom, and while Kabul Kaboom is more of a social commentary, New York Defender is more playable (at least in my opinion) - basically because it shows a high-score list.
Jill is looking for the narratee in a game - why can't you continue using the word, Jill? While I agree that games are not narratives, I will claim that they are narrative environments with the potential of creating stories, as are our real lives. Or do you, by game-narratee not mean the person to whom the story is told, but the player the game is aiming at? In that case, I feel that I come a fair distance through distinguishing between the player and the character, and then use not the narratee but the reader-concepts of Eco to suplement the implied reader of Iser - only I change reader to player: model player, implied player, target player, actual player...

Looking at Chatman's model again: no, I think you need to distinguish between the two position of the player in the game: the In Character position being that closer to the narratee: the character or the avatar, the Out Of Character position being the one behind the game, the player.

This might not be the graceful word you are looking for, Jill, but I like the word "player" because it implies a person active in relation to the game, one capable of playing not only with the game but with the context of the game, and able to be a subversive player as well as a submissive player - all the reader- strategies and then some. This is also good because the reader, while being given the position of power inherent in being the one who realises the work into text (Barthes), does not hold the active position of the player of games, while the player is allowed to create, to make up, to add and subtract elements within the rules more on the line of a performer or an author. And with the performance aspect of "play" I feel that "player" is even more relevant.

In both reading and playing, the narratee is the one being manipulated, being told (and the reason Implied Player doesn't fit is that the implied reader and the narratee isn't the same, you know that), and so the character or the avatar are good distinctions from the player.

The more I look at this, the more I feel that player is a good and elegant word in this context. While I'd love to make up a word and have the world use it - there's a good heap of words out there which still work.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Symantec AntiVirus Response - Hoax Page
A useful resource, by way of Lisbeth.
US buys up all satellite war images
This is the article from The Guardian which the article from refers to. - Krigen mot terror
In the days of the cold war, UNESCO tried to reach an international agreement for free speach, one that might reduce the power of the American Media - a power they held through volume and financial resources. USA pulled out of the negotiations because they could not accept that USSR - where there was state-censorship of the media - should have a right to defend themselves against the attacks of American media in the same newspapers, for instance through taking in articles propogating the USSR view on a case an American Newspaper wrote about.

The documents of the McBride round-table discussions are interesting reading, and in the view of the recent war in Afghanistan of current interest. If the American Government is buying the pictures from satelites which might reveal what is really hit in their raids on Afghanistan... Well, I think somebody were talking about state-censorship?

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Beware the dangers of jumping to conclusions.
But at least that means I get to read one more Philip K. Dick Novel.

I didn't see that this page of translations from english to other languages and back had a scrambled list, and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch was not the same as The Schizos' Ball. Now I have to find and read We Can Build You.
Baudrillard on the Web
I can't help it, I like comics and I'd love to see more like Wonder Woman. Not because I particularly like her blue-red-white outfit, but because I always wanted to be the strong one, not the one who was rescued from danger all the time, and back when, she was the closest thing to a superhero I could have been... Well, as likely that I could be Wonder woman as that the boy next door could be Batman, right?
UChicago - Videogames & Cultural Policy Conference
I am home.
I don't have anthrax (that I know of), the plane wasn't hijacked (not thanks to American security, it's odd but while European overseas and domestic flights and domestic American flights had upgraded the security, the oversea flight to Copenhagen had not. Perhaps there were no arab names on the list of passengers.) nor did it drive into any small private airplanes on runways. The closest I have been to discomfort was the withdrawal symptoms from not having a computer for two weeks (my hands don't hurt any more!) and listening to three DRUNK russians in the seats behind me all the way across the Atlantic on the way home. Now I'll just fight my way through the email, and then I'll be back to business.

Friday, October 05, 2001

Why are online, text-based, multi-user games attractive, what are the qualitites of these games which make them desirable and captures the attention of the players?

What are the features which distinguish a good online, multi-user roleplaying game from other games in the fantasy genre, what is experienced by the players as pleasurable in the game, what distinguishes a good game and not the least, what distinguishes good playing?

To answer my questions about computer-games, I study the game-structure from the angle a player would experience it, I interviewed and questioned players and builders of Dragon Realms, The Infinite Point and Aarinfel, and I participated in the game, observing the game-play and the game-experience from the position of a player.

What kind of texts are text-based online computer role-playing games? How is the role-playing game distinct from other online computer games in how it relates to stories or narrativity? To what extent can I use existing theory of texts and stories to analyse role-playing MUDs?

Is role-playing in online, multi-user games the same as or comparable to theatre, improvisation or ritual?
British Legends
Gonzalo Frasca
Jesper Juul
World's End

Thursday, October 04, 2001

At the NYU, ITP, I have been out of touch for too long... I have no idea what is going on in the world, my host, matthew, is gettign all his news at work. I picked up the NEw York TImes on the way into the city, but I haven't had time to read yet.

Today I walked up Broadway (as much of it as I could), but as I had passed Wall Street, the avenue was blocked. There I for the first time identified the smell of NYC. Somehow it is very familiar. I remember this scent of chemicals and destruction, fire and dust, from fabric shops in Singapore - and even from NYC itself. But it's as if it's concentrated, almost liquid to the point that it can be tasted rather than smelled, as I walk past wall Street and up circumventing the World Trade Center.

Around me people are determinedly normal. They go on about their lives, trading, selling, buying, commuting and buying their morning coffee in a way that makes me, perhaps for the first time, truly admire something American. But perhaps that is because it's so intensely human, this will to return life to the normal, this need to carry on and continue. It's a very vulnerable strength - the strength of survivors, fragile, but impressive, at the same time.

But it comes at a price. The price is the arrogant invulnerable joy of NYC. I wonder if that will ever return, or if this is what it takes for a city to mature from teen-age into something more dignified or decadent or sombre, like London, Paris, Berlin.

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

The need to speak, even if one has nothing to say, becomes more pressing when one has nothing to say, just as the will to live becomes more urgent when life has lost its meaning. Baudrillard: The Ecstacy of Communication, page 30.

Do I have anything to say, and do I have a will to live? A dear friend works every day with the scent of the decomposing bodies of his former colleagues permeating everything. An other friend sees the smoke from her kitchen window, disabled and without the emans even to support herself she watches death like a grey fog rise from Manhattan. An I walk through the streets of Manhattan until I learn that the corner of Chambers street and Greenwich Street is the best place to see the rubble behind the streets closed by the police.

And I read Jean Baudrillard, seeking to hide in his seductive language, and come back to NYC with this:
It would not be too farfetched to say that the extermination of mankind begins with the extermination of germs. Man, with all his humors, his passions, his laugh, his genitalia, his secretions, is really nothing more than a filthy little germ disturbing the universe of transparency. Once everything will have been cleansed, once an end will have been put to all viral processes and to all social and bacillary contamination, then only the virus of sadness will remain, in this universe of deadly cleanliness and sophistication.

Did I hear somebody say The Matrix?

Friday I will be at New York University, talking about the challenge of methods to studying games - 30 minutes, and I will try to focus on the essence of games and how they need to be approached widely. But Baudrillard keeps creeping into my words, and I wonder if this need to teach means... that I have nothing to say.

Perhaps. But I also wish to live.