Monday, December 06, 2004

Asynchronous multiplay

Ian Bogost is talking at Other Players, and I am just relieved to be back in the familiar world of a conference room: this one with wifi. Oh, the delights of continuous connection.

While listening to Ian, the post by Mark Bernstein is still spinning in my head: what happened to the Scandinavian weblog cluster? Jill replies to his question, mentioning it probably is a slight misconception that we ever were that tightly knit. I am not sure about that, but I am also not sure we are less tightly knit today. We are just moving away from that part of our academic game which was about bonding, and on our way into the part where we spread out.

To return to Ian Bogost, right now he speaks about games with a delay between reactions, where the players don't play the same game at the same time, but in a slow action/response dynamics which are related to the slow dialogue I spoke about in Vienna. As in the blogs, the asyncronous games depend on the breaks in the game flow: high scores only have a value as part of a multiplayer aspect if you take breaks and let somebody else have a chance to play and beat your high score. A blog only works as part of a conversation and a cluster if there is a response to other people's posts.

So, back to our cluster. What Mark speaks of as "social" comments are really just a part of the development of our academic lives. Lisbeth's meeting with Prince Joachim was not just a curiosity, but also a point in the game of Academia: she represented a growing department where she plays a vital role, and the symbolic value of this meeting was one of acceptance and confirmation of her position, rather than just a fun, social event. Yes, we joked about it, but at the same time we were immensely proud, because one of our cluster reached an important new level.

So, not all breaktroughs as an academic are made pondering over texts and squabbling over details in reviews. But another, technical change, has also changed the structure of the blogs. We have comments now. We no longer make a link on our own blogs pointing out things on the other blogs. We tuck it into the comments.

And one more point: we can "comment" very differently now. We are in positions where we don't have to talk through the blogs. We can invite each others for lectures and speeches, and then we can do the commenting face to face. The game goes into new and different media (oh, and sms, mms, flickr, aim is also in play, making the game of connectiveness more synchronous and more graphic).

But what we do can be summed up like Ian Bogost describes the time use in the asynchronous multiplayer games:

Reduced investment of time
More freedom to choose when to play
More fluid integration into daily life
Constraints on playtime - incentives to stop
Broader forms of implementation
Varied play from player to player
Greater interconnectedness between the game and the world.

The Scandinavian cluster still plays the game. We just play it differently, and with more players.

1 comment:

Jill said...

What a wonderful post, Torill. I agree - last night I was thinking about that, too, how we seem to have more other ways of communicating and discussing research, in part as a result of that strong bonding that was partly built through blogging together. I love how you connect it to Ian Bogost's ideas about games, because that's part of it too - yes, some of the links appear social more than being direct parts of some theoretical discussion but that's definitely part of academia and of a community as well