TL Taylor – Contemporary Play: How MMOGs Can Inform Game Studies

Everquest info recap, for the three people in the audience who were not familiar with EQ (the advantage of game conferences).

The act of play includes play with indeterminate rules; malleable gameplay
EQ as “boundary objects” – Bowker & Star, Sorting Things Out (1999) – “objects that both inhabit several commuities of practice and satisfy the informational requirements of each of them… plastic enough to adapt to local needs and constraints of parties employing them, yet robust enough to remain a common identity across sites.” Example EQ communities of practice: designers, players, legal departments, marketing, customer services, etc

One is not born an Everquest player, one becomes one (riff on De Beauvoir) – unpack how people become players:
Formal rules of the game

Layers that we learn play (what makes up how we play beyond the formal rules):
Technological: interfaces & controllers, system requirements & use knowledge, avatars, communication structures, open/closed architectures
We configure systems, systems configure us back. Science-Technology studies.
Value notions implied in each of these (e.g., avatars as gendered value notions).

Institutional: EULAs & TOS, “essence of the game,” game management & customer service, dispute handling/protest, subscription & distribution models, IP law
WOW: Warrior Protest – when the protest occurred, a system wide message from admins: “Attention: Gathering on a realm with intent to hinder gameplay is considered griefing and will not be tolerated.”

Communities: play styles and strategies, reputation & social capital, group affiliations, distributed & collective intelligence, player identity, ? of legitimate out-game “intrusions”
Train – pulling a ton of monsters; no mention in the manual but player community create rules or norms [JR: or ethics?]; make sense of trains only through community; as points of humor, memory, and community feeling
Guilds and social organization: social labor; reference EQ + Sopranos paper (trust, responsibility, and reputation)
Argue that it is crucial to the play of the game
The Collective Intelligence (Jenkins?) of EQ (3rd party websites, etc.) Alakazam website.
TL argues that the game is unplayable without 3rd party sites. High-end play heavily relies on these kinds of sites. Change of game rules proper in response: e.g., maps now present in EQ.

Heterogeneity of play:
Powergamers v. casual, family and friends, play histories and competencies, technical resources and skills.

Fundamentally different ways to play even among ‘power’ players.

Socio-technical artifact – encoding not only forms of play, but player subjectivity itself
Boundary object – game is constructed and enacted among multiple actors

[see post on Notes on Notes]


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