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  • Mark 7:46 am on October 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , gaming, ,   

    The Consolations of Gaming in Digital Capitalism 

    From How The World Changed Social Media, by Danny Miller et al, loc 1203

    The stand-out figure here is from industrial China. This is probably the site where people’s working day involves the most unremitting labour in factories. It is therefore not all that surprising to note that they use gaming as a means to relax and to separate themselves from work. In fact this reflects a wider emphasis upon the use of smartphones for entertainment more generally, a feature that clearly emerges in this additional survey conducted by Wang7 on smartphone usage among 200 handset-owning respondents in her field site. These workers usually do not have the spare time, money or energy for extra social life after long hours of heavy labour. At the same time, in addition to the relaxation that such games provide, gaming is also viewed as a major way of hanging out with friends online, especially among the young men.

    Online gaming is also a very important aspect of social media (especially Facebook) in southeast Turkey. The most common games were Candy Crush Saga, Ok and Taula. Gaming is a way to socialise with new and old friends. People play these online games not only with known friends but also with strangers. There are possibilities that these strangers might also become new friends through gaming. Online gaming is also used to flirt discreetly with people of the opposite sex. For the very young (i.e. children in primary school, aged 8–11 years) gaming is probably one of the main reasons for using social media.

    What can we learn about a social order from the forms of leisure that thrive within it? The rhythms of Candy Crush, reward punctuated by denial, look extremely interesting from this point of view.

    The authors go on to suggest on loc 1296 that games can also provide status consolations, at least as evidenced in their Chinese field site: “This may be especially appealing among factory workers since even the status of having achieved a higher level in games can become important when one’s status is so low in the offline world.”

  • Mark 6:39 pm on August 16, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , gaming, mobile gaming, nerve, , ready player one, , , traders,   

    3 dystopian visions of the future of gaming (and capitalism) 

    73984df83f8ed2f9842aaf0b669dfa8f2d7711cfIn a near future America, the world is locked into an inglorious decline while the majority of its population is locked into an intoxicatingly expansive virtual world. Ecological crisis and economic ruin operate hand-in-hand to leave the 99% living in sprawling slums, consisting of endless stacks of trailer parks, around the periphery of the surviving cities within which some economic activity takes place. The game provides an escape from this, offering an endless array of worlds full of wonders in contrast to the grim reality of the singular world the players inhabit in the rest of their lives.

    On the surface, Ready Player One might seem to be an inditement of gaming, framing it as the source of widespread acquiescence to social collapse. But it has a much more nuanced approach than this. Firstly, there’s a profound nostalgia which suffuses the book, suggesting that what’s of most value in the cutting edge of gaming in this dystopian world inevitably borrows from and looks back to an older age of gaming from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Secondly, the narrative of the book hinges upon the possibility for re-enchantment that gaming offers. The global game into which the world’s population has immersed itself might be implicated in this widespread withdrawal from social concern, but it also offers a solution. The game itself opens up the possibility for heroism, for mass collective struggle to change the world, which ultimately makes itself felt back in the ‘real’ world.

    In this sense, the book offers a pessimistic vision of the future of capitalism but a qualified optimism about the future of gaming. It’s nonetheless realistic about the relationship between the two, with capitalism having facilitated the worst of what is latent with gaming but also being susceptible to being changed by the best that can be found within the craft of gamers.

    The recent film Nerve offers a more straight forwardly moralistic vision. It tells the story of an underground viral game called ‘Nerve’, which allows participants to be either ‘players’ or ‘watchers’. The former earn rewards for acting on dares offered by the latter, who are encouraged to follow the players around and live stream their daring actions. The first moral of the story rests upon the dangers of celebrity, suggesting that the combination of teenage social pressures and an anonymous crowd can create immense pressure, potentially leading anyone to do things they’ll later have reasons to regret. The second moral of the story is more interesting, with a slightly contrived plot being used to explain how some players get locked into a game which, because it relies on the block chain, can not simply be shut down. This expresses an interesting fear we’re perhaps likely to see ever more explorations of: socio-technical novelties that cannot be suppressed or switched off. The moralistic streak in the film undermined the potential power of its story telling here because the valiant and sneaky actions of the protagonists lead them to escape the game and destroy it. I can easily imagine a much bleaker and more interesting film which took the fear it raised seriously.

    Traders is a gloriously dark film set in post-crash Dublin, exploring the changing fortunes of young financiers who briefly had everything and now must come to terms with having lost it. Much like Nerve, Traders revolves around a viral game, trading, in which desperate bankers who’ve lost everything can agree to fight to the death for the remaining assets of their opponent. Succesful traders soon build up an impressive prize fund, incentivising others to match them and the ‘dark web’ game takes on a life and energy of its own. The logic of the game escapes its creator, whose desperate attempts to regain his hold on it leads to his own downfall, introducing elements into the game which accentuate the worst aspects of its own internal rationality.

    Ready Player One, Nerve and Traders are very different works. But what they have in common is a confrontation with the social reality of gaming. Rather than seeing gaming as an individual pursuit, involving a retreat from the social, all these works recognise the intrinsically social nature of contemporary gaming. Gaming is in the world, of the world and acts on the world. But it’s more than this: the liberation of gaming from relatively static hardware which encouraged, though by no means determined, fixture within the home has opened up an entirely new arena of socio-technical novelty.

    What Nerve, Traders and Ready Player One explore is gaming-as-social-structure. The most engaging scenes in Nerve are when the logic of the game override normative expectations in social situations: in this sense a game acts as social structure, in a way disruptive of existing social order but also leading to the generation of new forms of order. The prospect of mobile augmented gaming, particularly if it has the massively distributed game dynamics of something like Nerve, heralds a profoundly morphogenetic form of social structure i.e. its operation encourages change in everything it encounters, in unpredictable and often dangerous ways. If we see the massive growth of games like Pokemon Go, as well as their further development, I think this characteristic of games will be an ever more potent object of cultural expectation.

  • Mark 12:11 pm on June 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , esports, gaming,   

    The Celebrity Millionaires of Competitive Gaming 

  • Mark 6:59 pm on May 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , celebrity gaming, , , , gaming, , ,   

    The King of Kong: a documentary about celebrity gamers 

    And another documentary, via @Carwyn:

  • Mark 1:37 pm on January 17, 2016 Permalink
    Tags: , , gaming,   

    Gaming Metrics: Innovation & Surveillance in Academic Misconduct (via @claudiakincaid) 

    GamingMetricsUC Davis, February 4-5, 2016

    The event is open to the public. Please register here.

    Follow on Twitter at #GamingMetrics.

    This conference explores a recent evolution of scholarly misconduct connected to the increasing reliance of metrics in the evaluation of individual faculty, departments, and universities.  Misconduct has traditionally been tied to the pressures of “publish or perish” and, more recently, to the broadened opportunities enabled by electronic publications. The conference takes the next step and asks whether the modalities of misconduct have changed in time to adapt themselves not just to the general demands of “publish or perish” but to the specific features and techniques of the modern processes of academic evaluation variously connected to the notion of “metrics.” Have we moved from “publish or perish” to “impact or perish”? If so, are metrics of evaluation now creating new incentives for misconduct? Are metrics also helping the evolution of forms of misconduct in specific and innovative directions? And, crucially, can we reliably draw a clear separation between gaming the metrics game and engaging in misconduct?  Traditional discourses and policies of misconduct were rooted in oppositions between truth and falsehood, right and wrong, honest mistake and fabrication, but new metrics-based misconduct seem to be defined less by opposition than by degree — the amount of gaming involved.  In sum, are new metrics-based forms of misconduct asking us to rethink what misconduct means?

    DAY 1 (Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center)

    9:00-9:15 Welcoming remarks (Ralph Hexter, Provost, UC Davis)

    9:15-9:30 “FROM PUBLISH OR PERISH TO IMPACT OR PERISH” (Mario Biagioli, STS & Law, UC Davis)
    A brief discussion of the conference themes and working hypothesis concerning the relation between academic metrics and misconduct. Current scenarios exemplify a vast increase of kinds of misconduct compared to traditional definitions (fabrication, falsification, plagiarism), but also point to a shift in the very goals of misconduct.  Initially driven by “publish or perish,” misconduct has become geared toward maximizing more complex metrics of academic credit encapsulated in a new imperative: “have impact or perish.”

    This session is meant to provide a baseline for the conference’s subsequent discussions by casting a wider net on metrics-gaming well beyond the specific field academic publishing, looking at how different communities and professions construe the line between acceptable and unacceptable gaming.  Mapping a wide range of gaming scenarios will then allow us to contextualize the specific forms of academic misconduct involving metrics gaming concerning academic credit.

    • Timothy Lenoir (UC Davis, Cinema and Digital Media & Science and Technology Studies) (Chair)
    • Sally Engle Merry (NYU, Anthropology) “The Seductions of Quantification”
    • Alex Csiszar (Harvard University, History of Science) “(Gaming) Metrics Before the Game”
    • Paul Wouters (Leiden University, Science and Technology Studies) “The Mismeasurement of Quality and Impact”
    • Karen Levy (NYU, Media, Culture, and Communication) “Networks of Resistance in Trucking”

    10:45-11:00 BREAK

    As university rankings are gaining increasing importance across the globe, they have been praised as agents of democratization against traditional academic “brands” living off reputational rent, but also criticized for the substantial ranking distortions that their easy gaming allows for.  When can these practices be treated as ranking gaming, and when do they cross over into institutional misconduct?

    • Martin Kenney (UC Davis, Human Ecology) (Chair)
    • Barbara Kehm (University of Glasgow, School of Education Robert Owen Centre for Education Change) “Global University Rankings: Impacts and Applications”
    • Lior Pachter (UC Berkeley, Mathematics) “How King Abdulaziz University Became a ‘Better’ University than MIT in Mathematics”
    • Daniele Fanelli (Stanford University, METRICS) “Institutional Pressures to Publish: What effects do we see?”

    12:00-1:30 LUNCH

    One conspicuous difference from the days of “traditional” misconduct is the shift between misconduct as the work of individual scientists and scholars to scenarios in which misconduct is a more “collaborative” endeavor, as in the case of citation rings among journals to maximize their impact factors. (The production of fake alternative impact factors may be another example).  In addition to these novel conspiracies (which typically involve editors and publishers rather than traditional individual cheats like scientists and scholars), modern misconduct also involves businesses and organizations providing tools, platforms, and opportunities to academics interested in misconducting themselves.  These include so-called “predatory” journals, fake conferences, fake prizes, etc., that is, tools that enable and entice academics to meet the demands of their institutions’ evaluation metrics by gaming/cheating them.  Also, while these activities concern publications, they are not limited to the production of a fraudulent text (as “traditional” misconduct typically was), but aim at facilitating its publication.  They may be perhaps termed “postproduction” misconduct.

    • MacKenzie Smith (UC Davis, University Librarian) (Chair)
    • Finn Brunton (NYU, Media, Culture, and Communication) “Making People and Influencing Friends: Citation Networks and the Appearance of Significance”
    • Sarah de Rijcke (Leiden University, Science and Technology Studies) “System Identity: Predatory publishing as socio-technical disruption”
    • Jeffrey Beall (University of Colorado, Denver, Information Science) “Fake Impact Factors and the Abuse of Bibliometrics”
    • Dan Morgan (University of California Press, Collabra Project) “Cui Bono? Judging Intentions (and Outcomes) of Personal and Industrial Cheating”

    3:00-3:15 BREAK

    This session has a double goal.  First, to analyze the kind of gaming that involve not the manipulation of a metric but the construction or adoption of a metrics – not gaming an established game, but the gaming that goes into defining the game itself. Is the competitive market of academic metrics (from faculty performance to university rankings) a form of gaming the game itself?  And where/when/how can it become misconduct?  Second, this session aims at engaging with Goodhart’s law, which is taken to show not only that the introduction of any kind of metric creat, es a market for gaming it, but that by so doing it invalidates the significance of that metrics.  If so, one could argue that any metrics will create the possibility of misconduct, but that the articulation of forms of misconduct specific to that metric will eventually “crowd” that market, thus creating an incentive to change the metrics, which in turn will usher in the next generation of innovative misconduct.  Or can we argue, against Goodhart, that it is possible to find a metrics of academic evaluation that can break the nexus with gaming/misconduct?

    • Anupam Chander (UC Davis, Law) (Chair)
    • Johan Bollen (Indiana University, School of Informatics and Computing) “From Bibliometric Metrics to Crowd-Sourced Science Funding Systems”
    • Carl T. Bergstrom (University of Washington, Biology) “It’s All a Game: The twin fallacies of epistemic purity and a scholarly invisible hand”
    • Jennifer Lin (Crossref) “Trust through Transparency: O brave new world/ That has such data in’t!”
    • Michael Power (London School of Economics, Accounting) “Research Impact and the Logic of Auditability: Solicited testimony as a case of meta-gaming”
    • James Griesemer (UC Davis, Philosophy) “Taking Goodhart’s Law Meta: Gaming, Meta-Gaming, and Hacking Academic Performance Metrics”

    DAY 2 (Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom, King Hall)

    9:15-9:30 Welcoming Remarks (Kevin Johnson, Dean, UC Davis School of Law)

    9:30-10:30 “MISCONDUCT WATCHDOGS (I)”
    The emergence and pervasiveness of new forms of misconduct exceed the
    reach, resources, and conceptual framework of traditional governmental watchdog organizations typically connected to funding agencies like, in the US, the ORI.  This has spawned a new generation and new figures of misconduct surveillance, detection, and prosecution. Among these is a new breed of “watchdogs” — new actors who are often institutionally unaffiliated. These “watchdogs” have assumed an important role and a credible voice, often by creating new “ecologies of support” for themselves — websites, blogs, wikis, social media, etc.  Does their somewhat unique role indicate something about the specific nature of modern academic misconduct?  Does it suggest that the “battlefield” of misconduct is moving away from governmental agencies (acting according to traditional and possibly outdated definitions of misconduct) and toward journals and the watchdogs who monitor their publications?

    • Jonathan Eisen (UC Davis, Genome Center) (Chair)
    • Ivan Oransky (Retraction Watch & NYU) “Retraction Watch: What We’ve Learned Since 2010”
    • John Bohannon (Science Magazine) “Grey Hat Hacking for Science”
    • Elizabeth Wager (Sideview) “Why Do We Need a Committee on Publication Ethics and What Should It Do?”

    10:30-10:45 BREAK

    10:45-12:00 “MISCONDUCT WATCHDOGS (II)”

    • Jonathan Eisen (UC Davis, Genome Center) (Chair)
    • Darren Taichman (Executive Deputy Editor, Annals of Internal Medicine Vice President, American College of Physicians) “A False Sense of Security?”
    • Debora Weber-Wulff (University of Applied Sciences Berlin, HTW, Media and Computing & VroniPlag Wiki) “Documenting Plagiarism in Doctoral Theses: The Work of the VroniPlag Wiki Academic Community in Germany”
    • Brandon Stell (The PubPeer Foundation & CNRS) “Introducing PubPeer”
    • Emmanuel Didier and Catherine Guaspare (EPiDaPo, UCLA) “The Voinnet Affair: New Norms in High-Pressured Science”

    12:00-1:30 LUNCH

    This session looks at a specific form of fakery rooted in “brand appropriation.”  While the preceding session considers generally fake journals, conferences, etc., here we want to look more specifically at imaginary journals whose titles (as well as the look and feel of their websites) are made to resemble those of well-known and respectable journals.  One could perhaps add to this list certain “academic” conferences that take place in prestigious locations (say, Oxford) but are not actually affiliated with the university, or the appropriation of the names of respected academics that are then listed (without authorization) on editorial boards of fake journals or organizing committees of fake conferences.  Similarly, fake universities who sell degrees without any attempt at educating their students (not even online) tend to assume names with an Ivy League ring to them.  The common denominator here is an attempt at the mimicry of a “brand” rather than just the copying/pirating of a product.

    • Madhavi Sunder (UC Davis, Law) (Chair)
    • Marie-Andree Jacob (Keele University, Law) “Template, Creativity and Publication Ethics”
    • Alessandro Delfanti (University of Toronto, Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology) “ArXiv or viXra? Physics and the quest for the true archive”
    • Sergio Sismondo (Queen’s University, Philosophy) “Leveraging Academic Value in the Pharmaceutical Industry”

    While misconduct “watchdogs” (discussed in a previous session) expose through public communication and denunciation, this session focuses on other actors who reveal misconduct and poor oversight through a carnivalesque approach.  Humor and absurdity—submitting profane papers and computer-generated gibberish articles that “sound” academic, or whistleblowers using clever anagrams as aliases–become a mode of critique and unmasking. Neither clearly “predatory” journals, “fake” conferences nor “legitimate” journals are immune to being the subject of a joke–a joke that, in some cases, may be more powerful than punishment. In a way, carnivalesque responses to misconduct continue the logic of an older history of art forgery-as-prank in which the forgery reveals through a kind of satire.  Are these cases telling us, perhaps, that satire is the best approach to both metrics and the gaming they elicit?

    • Alexandra Lippman (UC Davis, Innovating Communication in Scholarship Project) (Chair)
    • Cyril Labbé (Joseph Fourier University – Grenoble I) “Ike Antkare, His Publications and Those of His Disciples”
    • Burkhard Morgenstern (Universität Göttingen, Bioinformatics) “Virtual Editors Can Significantly Improve the Visibility of Junk Journals – A case study”
    • Paul Brookes (University of Rochester, Medicine) “Crossing the Line – Pseudonyms & Snark in Post-Pub Peer Review”


    LOCATION: Please note that the conference will be held at two different locations on the UC Davis campus.  On Thursday, February 4 we will convene at the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center.  On Friday, February 5 our proceedings will take place in the Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom at King Hall (UC Davis Law School) (located here).

    CAMPUS MAP: Can be found at http://campusmap.ucdavis.edu/

    ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Please email Alexandra Lippman (alippman at ucdavis dot edu)


  • Mark 4:49 pm on November 29, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , game studies, gaming   

    Call for papers: digital gaming (cc @TGJBrock) 

    e invite you to submit your paper on digital gaming, Game Studies or
    related disciplines focusing on digital game and gaming in all its
    theoretical dimensions and emerging applications. Digital technologies
    promote a transformation in the practice of gaming and the role it plays in
    contemporary society. From a broader perspective, the monograph aims to
    accommodate the widest possible set of approaches and scope of interest
    around the phenomenon of digital game taking into account primarily but not
    exclusively the following topics:

    • Digital game industry
    • Digital gaming and ideology
    • Relations between gaming and the cultural ecosystem: film, television,

    comics and literature.

    • Emerging genres like e-sports
    • Gamers and Youtube
    • Gayming
    • Gamergate
    • Music and video games: game music and sound play
    • Game literacy: Ludoliteracy
    • Ludofictional worlds in video games: semiotics, narrative and


    • Representation of the player and diversity
    • Advergaming or newsgame
    • Game Cultures: forms of social and recreational experiences
    • Productive relationships between players and devices (prosumers,

    mashups, modding)

    • Social perceptions about the digital game in today’s society by

    players and/or no players

    • Treatment of digital game in the media (potentialities, fear, moral

    panics, technological optimism …)

    The original can be presented in Catalan, Spanish or English before January
    15th. Publication is scheduled for June-July 2016.


    Dani Aranda @darandaj

    Jordi Sánchez-Navarro @jordisn

    Antonio José Planells @antonplanells

    Víctor Navarro-Remesal @VtheWanderer

  • Mark 9:01 am on November 25, 2015 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , gaming   

    “world of warcraft is the new golf” 

    From Untangling The Web, by Aleks Krotoski, pg 53-54:

    Joi Ito is the head of the Media Lab, a powerful thinktank based at MIT, one of the most respected academic institutions in the US. The Media Lab has been one of the most influential research laboratories for developing cutting edge technology. It’s also been in the pole position for describing human behaviour online. Before he took the helm at MIT, Ito was an eagle-eyed investor behind some of the world’s biggest start-ups, including Twitter, photo-sharing site Flickr and music recommendation site Last.fm, and he belongs to a virtual community that’s just as powerful as the Fortune 500 companies, or the Bildeberg Group. Ito and his virtual buddies are in charge of the modern world. 

    Less than a decade ago, he began playing World of Warcraft. Now, WOW may not be many people’s idea of the kind of environment where high-flying CEOs and other business and government movers and shakers get together and broker deals, but this fantasy world –populated by flying monsters, spells and elves –is an important place in the networking landscape for people like Ito and his contemporaries. 

    In his own words, “World of Warcraft is the new golf.” Ito and others –“at least 10 have the letter ‘C’ in their job titles,” reported technology site cNet in 2006 –formed a guild, or a group who spent their downtime working together (in virtual costume) to beat dungeon masters and other bad guys. They gave themselves a suitably conspiracy theory-inspired name, “WeKnow”, and spent their downtime not on the fairway, but in the virtual country Azeroth collecting gold coins, drinking virtual mead, defeating enemies and discussing the relative merits of one virtual sword over another.

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