hey there sailor!

totally random but oh my god I’m actually starting to beat V. at candy crush saga!! I started playing at the end of summer, and fyea! I’m finally at level 75 and slowly catching up

Anyway went to Boston this weekend for the MIT gamelab symposium as well as boston indie games festival. To be honest, at the opening speech by Jenkins (not the keynote) I didn’t have a good impression of the school — a lot of it was really extended ego masterbation with really wtf phrases like: “MIT media studies is the closest to the ideal of applied humanities” and weird corporate-cultspeak like synergy !innovation! networking! platform! and some dubious phrases like “safe and sane enviroment” (do you really want to be ‘safe’?) and this questionable dialectic of differentiating ‘innovation’ vs ‘experimentation’ (what a weird, mutually exclusive mindset you have)

What I really *REALLY* liked however, was the keynote speech by Peter Molyneux (creator of Black/White; Fables etc etc) some of the phrases that caught me was how he described the power of games – ability to ‘immerse the player, take them out’ and create ‘commonality of experiences’ (I took notes, a bit paraphrasing sorry for grammar)  so that you can have ‘same experiences across devices’ since that’s what people expect nowadays…. to do so by ‘examining the idea of motivation’ in new ways,  and to really ‘make whatever you like’. He was like: ‘I love what I do, because I make games which I want to play.’ And most of all – he emphasised 3 things: ‘delightful’, ‘engaging’ and ‘simplicity’

…. and deep down I was like YESSSSS! because that was the word I was looking for! delightful! that’s exactly it! like during class, I was like: ‘I hate my prototype’ and I couldn’t explain why (I said ‘it’s not addictive’) and people threw me a bunch of terms but it wasn’t about use, or why it would matter — it’s a feeling, and that’s it – it’s a feeling of delight(!)

Later I went to look for him (more like accosted, tbh) and I asked him several questions (I’m just doing it convo style because converting all of it into paragraphs is really hard for me);
R: If, games are about immersing the player and taking them out; doesn’t that mean that the internet is the biggest game of all? so when you build games on the web, it’s a kind of meta-game?
P.M:  yes it is, but it’s a different kind of gaming since there’s no commonality since people use the web in so many ways. because it has no limits, it’s difficult to control the experience. take this game (Curiousity the cube), by creating different movements you can enact different roles — it’s an interesting question/how I feel about RPGs: whether to take on the identity of a character to play a role, or be yourself by creating roles. Most of all in games, I want to be able to be myself/express myself freely in a common experience (herding behaviour and chaining)
R: then maybe the reason why it’s so successful (Curiousity the cube) is because you remove the standard forms of commuication (because the movement is limited to tapping) and force people to think of new ways of communication to connect (by creating drawings using the tapping) and they do so by making ‘roles’ for themselves

And then afterwards I pitched to him & Dimitri (22cans code developer) like a 3sec spiel about Pathways and they really liked it and thought it was interesting.  What *I* found interesting was their reaction – they were less concerned about the anonymity issue (which my thesis class focused so much upon) but the ‘connection’ part or the ability to create and curate pathways. I managed to get both(!) their email addresses too (omg can’t believe this is too awesome people actually take it seriously!!!) Dimitri also suggested that I look into projects done before about people trying to visualise the Internet and not worry too much about the coding part either (he also suggested if I really wanted to try making ATB fields I should look into mesh networks for ad-hoc use…. but I really don’t want to do the same thesis as Jonathan!)

The next panel was about applied research and games – missed part of it cos of the interviews, but it wasn’t super-relevant to me anyway…… except for ONE person! Her name is T.L Taylor and she was doing ethnographic research on game culture especially in regards of gamespace and spectactorship (she used this really lovely neologism: ‘lifestreaming’ as in streaming your life for show) And then she talked about her front-line work in talking/interviewing game culture, and it resulted in incredible amounts of data generated the way surveys don’t (85% successful rate!)  and what she termed: ‘big data’ because it was messy and qualitative since it accounted for all differences the way statistical sets don’t…. it almost seemed like a version of archival practice??

Anyway again, I pitched to her the current pathways idea and her response was really really good (i.e. she liked it) and again, she seemed more interested in the connective aspect than the anonymity aspect although she respected and liked the additional ‘not-knowing’ layer (in other words, I should keep it but not make it the sole reason for it) What was really great was her references! One of them was to CSCW as well as AOIR, both of which I haven’t heard before. Also she suggested I look into the HCI chapter of the CHI groups as well – most awesomely, she gave me a reference to Katherine Isbister of NYU; she said I should contact her (with her reference) since she would be very good advice/to talk to giving for the project.

I also talked to a bunch of standard MIT students – not from games or media related; two Econs phds and one neuroscience phd both interested in using crowdsource to solve iteration problems (former wanted gamelike elements in markets; the latter wanted to create interactive games for people to match neurons together since it’s impossible for one group of people to do it)  what was really interested was that they didn’t seem to view the internet as technology at all – for instance, I quizzed the neuroscience guy for a bit, he didn’t participate in facebook or any kind of online community/interaction; not that he was media illiterate (far from it)  but he only went on 2-3 websites and that’s it. When I asked him if he would be interested in knowing about sites related to those i.e. where do people go after reading Arts Electronica? He was like: ‘no, I don’t really do this kind of thing’ and he was perfectly happy in being pegged and bubbled by search engines

The Econs students on the other hand, had no idea about how the internet work at all – he was writing his phd thesis on social capital, and he had never ever heard of Klout. Like, ever. (I wish he was trolling) He knew nothing about the karmic economy or producer/consumer …. things which I thought was open information (as in like, using wikipedia-level of skill) were not common knowledge after all. When I asked him further, he was like: “maybe it’s because I’m not in the arts, or humanities” which is really interesting — he echoes the neuroscientist remark on the internet as a place for “arts” even though we tend to think of it as ‘science’ due to its technological nature. The second thing is the idea of inclusiveness – the internet is supposed to be entirely inclusive (digital divide aside) and these people are definitely media literate and media consumers, so why aren’t they participating? why do they feel separated from the spectrum of users? why do they think it’s ‘liberal arts’ related only? and I wonder, is this purely an MIT/typography thing (where they have no curiousity outside their bubble) because I know other science-y people who participate online????? ….. anyway, fascinating!

Also, I met Scot Osterweil!

He’s the creator of the game, Zoombinis 😀 you know what’s amazing?? I played Zoombinis when I was in elementary/primary school, which was like.. 17 years ago? how amazing is that??? it was so cool meeting him in person! I think even without the nostalgic factor, Zoombinis is a great game… I remember bleufish DLing it last year and replaying, and still it’s difficult enough despite so many years not to be boring. I felt a bit shy/starstuck to talk too much to him (childhood idol!!) anyway he asked me where I was from, and I was like ‘er Parsons DT’ and apparently he’s friends with Colleen!! and asked me to send his regards to her (will do, when I see her :D) anyway it was really really cool and kindof a kjdskbjdsfkjgr!!!omg!!!HERO!~~~ moment

I kinda left afterwards even though there were more…. it’s more tiring than I thought and I guess I just wanted a couple of hours to just walk around. Before I left, snapped some MIT photos:

Took a nap, then decided to wander around Boston a bit. I actually like Boston itself, just not really sure about Cambridge (seriously it’s like Americanised Singapore-meets-IDK…. just being there, is like full of heeby jeebies all the way down to the motivational posters and strategically efficient architecture) Went to do the tourist stuff like wandering around Boston Commons and just walked around a lot. Went for dinner at Faenuli Hall and guess what I found (besides clam chowder & lobster roll)???

Newbury Comics! They had this awesome deal going on with buy 2 get 1 free and I was like ooooo~ cannot resist (even though I’m technically saving for comic-con

Picked up 4 books: Idyll (artbook) with lovely sketches, Homeland Directive (mystery-suspense conspiracy theorist!!); Witching Hour (on discount – bought it just for Jeph Loeb’s writing) and Fables!!!!!!!!!!! OMG I haven’t read fables in a while, its good to catch up ahhhh feels so good *___* Sneak scans:

{witching hour}


{Homeland Directive}

I didn’t bother with Fables since well, I’ve bought it before but OMGGGGG THE PLOTLINE OMGGGG!! ndsjdfjsdfdkjdfjsdn!!!! heart in my mouth the whole time, can’t believe it someone pinch me and OMG WHERE IS ISSUE #122??!?! I CAN’T WAIT. OMG. /prepare awkward convo/  I hope they release previews in comic-con because mnbshdfhfejrf!!!

Anyway this has been a really long post – will do part2 boston tomorrow!!!


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