February 28, 2006

Tom Wolfe : Jefferson Lecture

Tom Wolfe will be giving the 2006 Jefferson Lecture, an honor sponsored by the NEH. The lecture will be held at the Warner Theatre on Wednesday, May 10, 2006, at 7 p.m. If you want (free) tickets, see the bottom of the press release for the contact information.

I didn't go last year, but two years ago Helen Vendler gave a nice talk at the DC Convention Center, followed by some tasty vittles.

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February 27, 2006

Review: VGTR

My review of The Video Game Theory Reader, with brief responses from the editors, was posted at the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies. RCCS is a great resource for the study of all things cyberculture, especially if you are looking to build either a bibliography (see Book Reviews) or a syllabus (see Courses).

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February 21, 2006

Ballet Mécanique Plans

For those interested, I'm planning a Wordherder outing to the Ballet mécanique (see details here) and Dada exhibit at the National Gallery on March 18. If you are interested in participating (friends of the Herd are always welcome, which includes out-of-town bloggers who might be in town), please leave a comment below or send me an email. There are two options here, which I'll outline below the jump:

Option 1: We meet at 12:30 so that we can catch the 1 pm cacophony, then go see the Dadaist exhibit for a certain length of time (which we would agree upon beforehand - probably no more than an hour, maybe two), with a late lunch / early dinner at a restaurant of our choice.

Option 2: People go through the Dada exhibit on their own before we all meet at 1pm, at which point we watch the show and then go get lunch at a restaurant of our choice. This adds flexibility for those who might want to see the show, but have little interest in the Dada exhibit.

For food, we'll probably do something in either Adam's Morgan or Chinatown, since the area around National Gallery is pretty devoid of restaurants unless we want to go somewhere like the Capitol Grille (I sure don't). A best bet would include a good place for a group-feast (Ethiopian, Chinese, Indian, etc.) and/or something relatively inexpensive (hopefully, both). I haven't checked prices at
Fasika's lately, but that might be a good option. I'm open to others, however.

Include your preference of either option 1 or 2 in your comment please.

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I stuck!

There are times when phrases that our daughter uses pop into my head when writing. All to frequently recently, the phrase is "I stuck!," as in "I stuck Daddy!" when she's trying to get out of her high chair, or when she can't quite get her shirt over her head.

And it's always useful, when I'm staring at a screen full of broken prose (quite literally broken, as I tend to write sentences, break them up, and scatter them across the screen waiting reassembly) and I'm not quite sure how to clarify an important point, and I keep hearing that voice repeating "I stuck, I stuck" in my head, to remember that in every single instance, our daughter has, in fact, managed to become "unstuck" and continued merrily on her way.

Sometimes, it just takes a little effort, or a few seconds breather, or a friendly hand. Or for me, occasionally, a quiet jot of writing in another forum, before turning back to the task at hand.

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February 15, 2006


For the curious-minded who happen to be strolling by the Reagan building at 12th and Penn, the movie trucks around are for the film Breach. If you see Laura Linney, tell her my daugher loves her work on the Philadelphia Chickens CD.

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A Window into My Soul (but only the nice parts)

I'm a follower. A sheep. All the cool kids are doing Johari Windows.

My Window.

Notice how "weak," "miser," "selfish," "cruel," "bad speller," and "hateful" don't make it in the list of adjectives? I wonder how different these things would be if they did...

How many people describe themselves as "ingenious"? Combine that with "relaxed," "observant," "intelligent," "complex," and "adaptable" and you've probably got a good profile for a serial killer.

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February 14, 2006

Ballet mécanique

The infamous Ballet mécanique is coming to Washington, DC, but not in any way it's been heard before. And it's not going to be for just one performance...it's going to be played over 30 times.

George Antheil's 1925 masterwork, which was never heard in its original version (for 10 percussionists, two pianists, three airplane propellers, electric bells, siren, and 16 player pianos) until 75 years after its composition, will be presented on the mezzanine of the National Gallery of Art's East Wing every day for over two weeks, starting on March 12. Performing it will be 16 computer-controlled player grand pianos and an orchestra played entirely by robots. This means it will be the fastest, most maniacal, and--thanks to the cavernous acoustics of the giant building--the loudest Ballet mécanique ever performed.

In conjunction with a huge exhibit on Dadaist art, which runs from now through May, the Music department of the National Gallery has commissioned a Ballet mécanique installation, which will be on display and performing from March 12 through March 29. The all-mechanical orchestra will be located on the mezzanine, next to the entrance to the Dada exhibit hall. At 1:00 pm (every day) and 4:00 pm (weekdays only), the orchestra will roar into action and play a 10-minute version of the piece.

Sounds like a field trip is in order. Maybe even a wordherder gathering, if enough people are interested.

[via Jerz]

UPDATE: There are three weekends in the time frame. According to the above, the orchestra plays at 1pm during the weekends (no 4pm show), so assuming that we go on a Saturday or Sunday, we could meet at around 12:30, see the orchestra, spend an hour or so at the exhibit, and then grab a late lunch/early dinner (or just drinks).

So, if you are interested, include in your comment which date(s) would be good for you:
Sunday, 12 March
Saturday, 18 March
Sunday, 19 March
Saturday, 25 March
Sunday, 26 March

We can also talk weekdays (maybe the 4 pm orchestra, an hour at the exhibit, and an early dinner) if that is better for those interested. I can take a few hours off from work early if that's the case. Try to include what's best for you in the comments.

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February 7, 2006

Statistics are Funny Things

(CBS) Worldwide sales of video game consoles and software are expected to reach $35 billion this year – that’s more than twice the revenue of the NFL, the NBA, and Major League Baseball combined.

Why not compare to sports... worldwide? Or sales in North America (since NFL, NBA, and MLB are North American franchises)?

I also had no idea that CBS now has a whole section dedicated to games: GameCore

Also, since we're talking statistics: BBC Report on UK Gamers [via Wonderland]

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The Ethics of E-Games

FYI. One can never complain about free journal articles.

E-Games: Far more complex than simple "good / bad" dualities the popular press suggest

The latest Issue of the “International Review of Information Ethics“ focuses on E-Games. Guest Editors Elizabeth Buchanan and Charles Ess have compiled an issue that builds up a collection of philosophically and empirically robust articles and is now available free of charge at www.i-r-i-e.net.

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CFP Reminders

A few CFPs worth considering. Full descriptions after the jump:
"HCI Issues in Computer Games"


*CFP : Videogames and the Alien / Other*
Second Annual University of Florida Game Studies Conference


International and Interdisciplinary Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers. Brisbane, Australia, 28-30 September 2006


Sandbox: an ACM Video Game Symposium
Collocated with SIGGRAPH 06
29 July & 30 July, 2006, Boston, MA, USA


Special Issue of Interacting with Computers on
"HCI Issues in Computer Games"

Guest Editors
Panayiotis Zaphiris & CS Ang, Centre for HCI Design,
City University London

Introduction to special issue topic
Computer Games are at the forefront of technological innovation and
their popularity in research is also increasing. Their wide presence and
use makes Computer Games a major factor affecting the way people
socialize, learn and possibly work. Computer Games are also beginning to
attract the attention of educators and education technologists.

With this special issue of Interacting with Computers we wish to explore
the relationship between Computer Games and Human-Computer Interaction
(HCI). Are current HCI techniques and methodologies appropriate for
designing Computer Games? Do we need new Computer Game focused HCI
methods, theories and paradigms? What are the new challenges when it
comes to evaluating Computer Games?

This special issue of Interacting with Computers is inviting
contributions from both the academic community and industry. It will
focus on issues surrounding the analysis, design, development and
evaluation of Computer Games and the issues surrounding them. Potential
topics include (but are not limited to) the following:

* Design approaches and techniques suitable for Computer Games
* Usability studies regarding Computer Games
* Theoretical and/or pedagogical foundations for analysing Computer Games
* Within-game and/or out-game activities and their HCI analysis
* Computer Games and Online Communities
* Social and Cultural Issues and Computer Games
* Accessibility of Computer Games
* Transfer of gaming metaphors to business applications

"Interacting with Computers" is an interdisciplinary journal of
Human-Computer Interaction, published by Elsevier. More information
about this journal can be found at:


IwC special issues contain only 5 - 6 papers, each of no more than
10,000 words (so acceptance will be fairly selective).

Papers should be submitted through the manuscript management system at
http://ees.elsevier.com/iwc/ by the 10th of April 2006. The style
standard is that of the American Psychological Association (APA), more
details about which can be obtained from:

Important dates:
Full paper submission: 10th April 2006 (Monday)
Response to authors: 8th May 2006 (Monday)
Final version of papers: 5th June 2006 (Monday)
Planned publication: September 2006

*CFP : Videogames and the Alien / Other* Second Annual University of Florida Game Studies Conference Gainesville, FL April 7-8, 2006


The University of Florida's Game Studies Group, College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences and Digital Worlds Institute are pleased to announce
the 2006 UF Game StudiesConference: "Video Games and the Alien/Other,"
which will be held in Gainesville,Florida, on April 7-8 2006.

*Guest Speaker*
Lee Sheldon, author of Character Development and Storytelling for
Games whose writing credits include Agatha Christie: And then there
were none [The Adventure Company], Uru: Ages beyond Myst [Cyan], The
Riddle of Master Lu, and Dark Side of the Moon.

This conference explores the figure of the Alien and the Other and the
various functions it serves within video games. Since the original
Space Invaders, video games have incorporated representations of
difference in a variety of ways--specifically, the figure of the Alien
features prominently as an enemy or source of conflict. This
interdisciplinary conference invites both critical and practical works
that engage the implications of this theme of alterity in video games
and related electronic media.

We invite presentations that explore the theme of difference in video
games either through theoretical examinations of particular works or
new media creations which represent the Alien artistically,
programmatically and/or digitally.

Accordingly, we offer two tracks for submissions:

Theory: Academic papers critically analyzing a specific function of
video games or new media in the context of the Alien.

Praxis: Performances, installations, or demonstrations which
communicate an idea related to the topic through the creation of
digital media artifacts. These presentations should also be
accompanied by a short oral explication of the central ideas and
intellectual context. Submissions should include a sample of the work
(e.g. a screenshot) if possible.

Presenters should focus their submissions on one of several key themes:

* Player-Characters and the function of the outsider
* Gaming cultures and subcultures
* Portraying gender, race, religion and the avatar
* Monstrosity, bodies and avatars
* Otherness and online societies (e.g. MMORPG's)
* Xenophobia and alterity in representations of "enemies."
* Designing the Alien/Other through AI and NPCs
* Video game villains and anti-heroes

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

* The Other and the industry -- the role of independent game developers.
* Localization and the alleged erasure of cultural difference
through video games.
* Marketing and approaching new demographics.
* Becoming the Other in online role-playing communities.
* Colonialism and Orientalism within historical simulations.
* The representation (or lack) of religious pluralism in video games.
* Representations of race, gender, and/or sexual preference in games.
* The Evolution of the Alien/Other in games.
* Becoming Other -- choosing a moral path in KOTOR or Black and White.
* Subversive game play.
* Psychoanalysis, video games and the other/Other.
* Becoming Alien/Other in online games.
* Alien/Other and the differences inherent in console or interface
* Close studies of specific Alien/Others and tropes of Alien/Otherness.

Abstract submissions should be approximately 250-500 words in length.
Presentations will be 15 minutes with 5 minutes of question and
answer. The deadline for abstract submissions is Wednesday, March 1,
2006. We accept abstracts in electronic form (preferred) or print.

If possible, please submit proposals through our online system:

Internet Research 7.0, Brisbane 28-30 September 2006


International and Interdisciplinary Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers

Brisbane, Australia
28-30 September 2006

Pre-Conference Workshops: 27 September 2006


The Internet works as an arena of convergence. Physically dispersed and marginalized people (re)find themselves online for the sake of sustaining and extending community. International and interdisciplinary teams now collaborate in new ways. Diverse cultures engage one another via CMC. These technologies relocate and refocus capital, labor and immigration, and they open up new possibilities for political, potentially democratizing, forms of discourse. Moreover, these technologies themselves converge in multiple ways, e.g. in Internet-enabled mobile phones, in Internet-based telephony, and in computers themselves as "digital appliances" that conjoin communication and multiple media forms. These technologies also facilitate fragmentations with greater disparities between the information-haves and have-nots, between winners and losers in the shifting labor and capital markets, and between individuals and communities. Additionally these technologies facilitate information filtering that reinforces, rather than dialogically challenges, narrow and extreme views.


Our conference theme invites papers and presentations based on empirical research, theoretical analysis and everything in between that explore the multiple ways the Internet acts in both converging and fragmenting ways - physical, cultural, technological, political, social - on local, regional, and global scales.

Without limiting possible proposals, topics of interest include:

- Theoretical and practical models of the Internet
- Internet convergence, divergence and fragmentation
- Networked flows of information, capital, labor, etc.
- Migrations and diasporas online
- Identity, community and global communication
- Regulation and control (national and global)
- Internet-based development and other economic issues
- Digital art and aesthetics
- Games and gaming on the Internet
- The Net generation
- E-Sectors, e.g. e-health, e-education, e-business

We call for papers, panel proposals, and presentations from any discipline, methodology, and community that address the theme of Internet Convergence. We particularly call for innovative, exciting, and unexpected takes on and interrogations of the conference theme. However, we always welcome submissions on any topics that address social, cultural, political, economic, and/or aesthetic aspects of the Internet and related Internet technologies. We are equally interested in interdisciplinary proposals as well as proposals from within specific disciplines.


We seek proposals for several different kinds of contributions. We welcome proposals for traditional academic conference papers, but we also encourage proposals for creative or aesthetic presentations that are distinct from a traditional written 'paper'. We welcome proposals for roundtable sessions that will focus on discussion and interaction among conference delegates, and we also welcome organized panel proposals that present a coherent group of papers on a single theme.

This year AoIR will also be using an alternative presentation format in which a dozen or so participants who wish to present a very short overview of their work to stimulate debate will gather together in a plenary session involving short presentations (no more than 5 minutes) and extended discussion. All papers and presentations in this session will be reviewed in the normal manner. Further information will be available via the conference submission website.

- PAPERS (individual or multi-author) - submit abstract of 500-750 words

- SHORT PRESENTATIONS - submit abstract of 500-700 words

- CREATIVE OR AESTHETIC PRESENTATIONS - submit abstract of 500-700 words

- PANELS - submit a 250-500 word description of the panel theme and abstracts of the distinct papers or presentations

- ROUNDTABLE PROPOSALS - submit a statement indicating the nature of the roundtable discussion and interaction.

Papers, presentations and panels will be selected from the submitted proposals on the basis of multiple blind peer review, coordinated and overseen by the Program Chair. Each person is invited to submit a proposal for 1 paper or 1 presentation. People may also propose a panel of papers or presentations, of which their personal paper or presentation must be a part. You may submit an additional paper/ presentation of which you are the co-author as long as you are not presenting twice. You may submit a roundtable proposal as well.

Detailed information about submission and review is available at the conference submission website http://conferences.aoir.org. All proposals must be submitted electronically through this site.


All papers presented at the conference are eligible for publication in the Internet Research Annual, on the basis of competitive selection and review of full papers. Additionally, several publishing opportunities are expected to be available through journals, again based on peer-review of full papers. Details on the website.


Graduate students are strongly encouraged to submit proposals. Any student paper is eligible for consideration for the AoIR graduate student award. Students wishing to be a candidate for the Student Award must also send a final paper by 31 July 2006.


The IR7.0 Doctoral Colloquium offers PhD students working in Internet research or a related field a special forum on 27 September 2006 where they will have a chance to present their research plans and discuss them with peers and established senior researchers.

Interested students should prepare a 2 page summary of their research. This should provide a context for the research, describe the methods being used, the progress to date and expectations and hopes from the colloquium. Please submit your 2 page application by 1 April 2006 to Marcus Foth at m.foth@qut.edu.au

Applicants will be notified of acceptance by 1 June 2006. Successful applicants will be asked to prepare an 8 page paper on their research by 1 August 2006.

Doctoral Colloquium Host and Sponsor: Creative Industries Faculty Queensland University of Technology


Prior to the conference, there will be a limited number of pre- conference workshops which will provide participants with in-depth, hands-on and/or creative opportunities. We invite proposals for these pre-conference workshops. Local presenters are encouraged to propose workshops that will invite visiting researchers into their labs or studios or locales. Proposals should be no more than 1000 words, and should clearly outline the purpose, methodology, structure, costs, equipment and minimal attendance required, as well as explaining its relevance to the conference as a whole. Proposals will be accepted if they demonstrate that the workshop will add significantly to the overall program in terms of thematic depth, hands on experience, or local opportunities for scholarly or artistic connections. These proposals and all inquires regarding pre-conference proposals should be submitted as soon as possible to the Conference Chair and no later than 31 March 2006.


Final date for proposal submission: 21 February 2006

Presenter notification: 21 March 2006

Final workshop submission deadline: 31 March 2006

Submission for publication/student award: 31 July 2006

Submission for conference archive: 30 September 2006


Program Chair: Dr Fay Sudweeks, Murdoch University, Australia, f.sudweeks@murdoch.edu.au

Conference Chair: Dr Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology, Australia, a.bruns@qut.edu.au

President of AoIR: Dr Matthew Allen, Curtin University of Technology, Australia m.allen@curtin.edu.au

Association Website: http://www.aoir.org

Conference Website: http://conferences.aoir.org

Sandbox: an ACM Video Game Symposium
Collocated with SIGGRAPH 06
29 July & 30 July, 2006, Boston, MA, USA

ACM is hosting a two-day video game symposium on 29 July and 30 July in 2006, co-located with SIGGRAPH 06 in Boston, MA, USA. The symposium will consist of keynotes, panels and papers. In addition, a "Hot Games" session will preview unreleased titles from major game companies and indie developers.

Video games are a singular technological medium, comparable in cultural impact to the telephone, television or the Internet. How can we advance the state of technology while ensuring that the medium flourishes? What role do Indie developers play in maintaining diversity and creativity in this medium? What are the impacts of the medium on society and on individuals?

The symposium seeks papers that describe research and ideas that are original and innovative. Technical papers should contain an empirical evaluation and an explicit description of the advantages of the proposed technique. Other papers should meet the standards of their respective disciplines (e.g. economics or media studies) and will be peer-reviewed. Selected papers will be those that are judged to have the greatest potential for either immediate or long-term impact on the field of game development

Developers and researchers from all related disciplines are invited to participate in this event and to exchange ideas, theories and experiences regarding the state of the field. We seek contributions from the technical, creative, independent and academic communities that design and develop video games and related technology, and also from observers of video games and their impact on society and on individuals.


Topics should center on critical and analytical approaches to video games. The focus is threefold: (1) industry and scholarly perspectives on how video games are designed and developed; (2) analysis of the experience and pleasures of game play; (3) critical articles on the value and significance of video games as cultural artifacts. Throughout, topics should focus on close readings and critical analysis of the design and development aspects of creating unique game experiences. While MMOs, Serious Games, simulations, and pervasive/mobile games are well researched, the committee also invites submissions that explore games from the wide range of popular console and PC titles. Studies of major games with significant player bases are encouraged. The committee welcomes interdisciplinary and comparative approaches to video game criticism, as well as those from the technical, social sciences and the humanities. We invite work across game platforms and titles, on games and literature, games and film, economics, media studies, communication, sociology, games and art, and games and other digital media.

Examples of some topic areas that are of interest include, but are not limited to:

Real-time animation and computer graphics for video games
Distributed simulation and communication in multi-player games
Game console hardware and software
Psychophysics and user interfaces
Artificial intelligence in games
Interactive physics
Uses of GPU for non-graphical algorithms in games
Multi-processor techniques for games
Speech and vision processing as user input techniques
Development tools and techniques
Procedural art
Sound Design and music in games
Mathematical Game Theory applied to video games
Cinematography in games
Game design and game genres
Story structure (setting, plot, character, theme) in games
Games (Casual, Serious, Mobile, Networked, Alternative Reality, Ubiquitous, Pervasive, etc.)
Legal, political, and societal impacts
Women and diversity in games
Gamer culture and community; such as modding communities, LAN parties, creative gamer content and machinima
Independent game developers
Economics and business of the game industry
Game production and labor
Negotiating intellectual property issues in development
Trade offs between creativity and branding in design and production
Alternative distribution models

Please submit full papers, not abstracts. Accepted formats:
-Long Paper (max. 10 pages)
-Short paper (max. 4 pages)
All papers will be reviewed by an independent review committee, which will provide written feedback on each paper. ACM will publish the proceedings and papers will be archived in the ACM Digital Library.

Submission of full paper (long or short): 1 May 2006
Submission of camera-ready papers: 1 July 2006
Submission of Hot Game demo: 1 July 06 *

Conference Chair: Drew Davidson (drew AT waxebb DOT com)
Program Chair: Alan Heirich (alan.heirich AT playstation.sony.com)
Program Chair: Doug Thomas (douglast AT usc DOT edu)

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