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September 12, 2005

Playing Ethnography:


Studying Social Emergence in MMOGs

"Abstract: One of the interesting properties of mmogs is that of emergent social behavior. This sort of behavior can be characterized as activities that evolve outside of the main purpose of the game. For the past 16 months, I have been conducting an ethnographic study, using methods of particiant observation, interviewing and visual anthropology (in- game screen shots) of inter-game immigration patterns. In particular, I have been looking at the Uru diaspora, a group of players who were made refugees when the Myst-based mmog Uru closed in February of 2004. Uru refugees migrated into other game worlds, creating 'ethnic' neighborhoods, bringing the culture, play patterns, and aesthetic of Uru with them. They created Uru-derived artifacts, and over time, began to create original objects inspired by Uru but integrated into the new worlds they were inhabiting. In this talk, my avatar Artemesia will take us on a tour of some of the areas created by members of the Uru diaspora in different virtual worlds, and discuss their relationship to game design. We may also have the opportunity to talk to some Uru refugees during this live 'in-world' demonstration." From Playing Ethnography: Studying Social Emergence in MMOGs by Celia Pearce. [via]

Time: Wednesday, September 14, 6-8pm
Location: USC's Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 201 Zemeckis Media Lab (ZML)
3131 South Figueroa Blvd./2nd Floor

Bio: Celia Pearce is an award-winning game designer, artist, researcher, teacher and author of The Interactive Book: A Guide to the Interactive Revolution (Macmillan, 1997), and other writings on game design and culture. She has been affiliated with the University of California, Irvine since 2001, where is currently Senior Research Associate at UC Irvine's Game Culture & Technology Lab, through a research appointment at the Institute for Software Research. She is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Cinema-Television's
Interactive Media Division at University of Southern California, where she held previous positions as a visiting researcher and adjunct professor. Ms. Pearce's 20-plus year career as an interactive media and attractions designer includes: Creative Director for Iwerks and Evans & Sutherland's award-winning 24-player attraction Virtual Adventures: The Loch Ness Expedition, and Purple Moon Friendship Adventure Cards for Girls. Clients have included: Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Parks, BBH Exhibits, Lego Toys, and the Jerde Partnership. Recent curatorial projects include: Mapping the Unfindable (Winter 2004), a retrospective exhibition on the work of Norman Klein, and ALT+CTRL (Fall 2004), a festival of independent an alternative games, both at UCI's Beall Center for Art & Technology. She is currently developing an environmental game with the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

Posted by jo at September 12, 2005 05:17 PM