Thursday, January 31, 2008

academic foot steps

Great news! The PCA/ACA people are willing to let me make a video of my paper on race and narrative in World of Warcraft, so I can still present as part of the MMORPGs and Narrative Panel at the SW/TX region conference. I am super excited about this (almost as much as if I were actually going, but doing it this way will save me almost $900, so I really can't complain). The downside? I need to get cracking on writing the actual paper. Good thing I have Sean to motivate me.

I've also been asked to take part in NipissingYou's speaker series, so I think I will rework the paper to fit that format, as well.

Having lived under a rock for the now 12 years that I've been a frequent and habitual users of the interwebs, I only discoveredthe blogging awesomeness of Terra Nova. A recent topic of discussion has been the upcoming Virtual Worlds and New Realities stuff that's going to be happening at Emory University in a couple of weeks, and the kind folks there are seeking answers to some questions to promote discussion for their panel. Here are my thoughts:

1. QUESTIONS THAT MATTER: What research questions or inquiries are important with regard to studying virtual worlds in the next several years (think 2008-2015)?

*Do synthetic worlds (sorry, my Castronova is showing) support, subvert, or reinscribe dominant ideologies?
*In the case of heavily male-centric MMORPG worlds like that of Azeroth, what are the critical and social implications for women who choose to participate in those worlds?
*What opportunities do synthetic worlds provide for transgression?
*How do sythetic worlds function as liminal spaces?
*What is the ceiling for growth?

2. METHODS: What research methods and approaches are valuable in the study of, and study in, virtual worlds?

I believe that an under utilized approach is that of literary/cultural studies. I use that term to cover a multitude of theoretical approaches, from feminist and postcolonial studies, to phenomenological (sp?) approaches and beyond. I think this type of research is particularly for MMORPGs, because of the way that narrative is integrated into the synethic world.

3. COLLABORATIVE INITIATIVES: What might be some ways to effectively establish more multi-university and multi-institutional research, both with regard to studying virtual worlds as well as using virtual worlds to facilitate research collaborations?

I think that establishing networks of interested parties could potentially be quite useful. For example, one of my current interests is in queer identities in MMORPGs. If I could find similarly minded people, we could construct a plan to create queer identities in game, and then collectively share and analyze the data collected from our experiences.

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