Friday, June 21, 2002

The Real Topic
My thesis is about a lot of different things. Today I am trying to find a title. I have three suggestions so far:
    Pleasures of the Player: Online Games and Offline Actions
    The Digital Juggler: Flow and Control in Online Games
    The Player's Game: Imagination, Control and Participation in MUDs

I think I prefer the two last ones. I am not really writing about offline actions. I like the image of the Digital Juggler, and it's been at the back of my mind ever since I started writing. But I am afraid that it's nostalgia which makes me keep it: that or inertia - that I can't see the changes in my own work. Still, the Digital Juggler is a fertile image, an image which for me points to flow and control.

The Player's Game is a nice image too: the Player as subject, active and controlling. But I have already published one fairly large report in Norwegian: Spillets leser, leserens spill - The Reader of the Game, the Game of the Reader - and this refers to and playes with pretty much the same image, and might lead to confusion, particularly when you add the report I wrote with my sister on offline role-playing games and computer games: "One of those reports on playing and reading from Mortensen something - don't remember which..."

Perhaps a mixture of two and three? The Digital Juggler: Imagination, Control and Participation in MUDs? No, I am not sure yet. And the main reason is because I need to write the conclusion. I have attempted conclusions several times. Some of them are:

Games are not stories, but can be narrative environments.
Players are not writers, readers, actors or performers. They are players - even if they commit several of the same acts.
Computer Games are not open texts, but not closed texts either. They are ergodic texts (yes, I know Espen Aarseth has already concluded this), but they don't stop at being ergodic texts. Games contain ergodic texts, just as they can contain or communicate little stories, videos or pictures.
The gaming experience can not be studied without immersion and reflexivity.
Game culture is fragile and change-oriented.
Players are smart and problem-solving oriented.
The computer is a perfect arena, and all aspects of it invites play.

I still don't really know what is the most important conclusion. I don't know which conclusions I have omitted here. I don't really know how these things connect and what they mean. I have these 250 pages, and I look at them and I ask myself: So what?

That's one of the major questions when I criticise research: so what? I had better find an answer to my own question - and write it down in somewhat accessible language. BBL.

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