Saturday, April 26, 2008

Home Has No Atmosphere

It's true that there may be a glut of World of Warcraft research being done in academia right now, despite the fact that it is the most heavily populated virtual world on the planet and one in which an actual academic conference is scheduled to take place, but UC Irvine Ph.D. candidate Silvia Lindtner's talk brought some fresh perspective to the subject, based on her field work in China that looked at "mixed realities," "hybrid reality spaces," and "assemblies" at work in the public places where people play computer games with the aid of cellular telephones, ubiquitous computing devices, and other channels for live chat and interaction. She also emphasized the importance of design issues that give users choice and attention to subtle forms of political repression that can be manifested in the regulation of games, such as the removal of skeletons from World of Warcraft in the interest of promoting the dominant ideology of "harmony."

I met Lindtner at a CalIT2 workshop for graduate students on interdisciplinarity. The title comes from a statement by one of her informants.

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