The last few posts I’ve put up have been a bit lengthy. Hopefully a shorter post, along with a relevant video, will help round-out the type of content this blog offers…
The Raid is a documentary that observes raiding in World of Warcraft. A shorter version of the film was previewed at Blizzcon 2010 and the full film premiered on Gamebreaker.TV in August of 2011. Embedded below is a full video of the premier night. The documentary starts at 26:08.
The following is an adaptation of a paper I wrote at the request of my advisor. This paper is an overview of attention and mass communication research. As such, findings from cognitive science and neuroscience literature are discussed as a means for coming up with meaningful media research questions. Accordingly, much of this post is actually a brief review of literature and methods. A shorter section is devoted to research opportunities (expect more of this in upcoming posts).
Attention is one of the oldest and most studied areas within the behavioral sciences (D. Anderson & Kirkorian, 2006). While modern inquiry dates back to the mid 1800s, attention can be traced back to Aristotle and Lucretius (D. Anderson & Kirkorian, 2006; Potter & Bolls, 2011). Accordingly, one might reasonably expect that there is a universally shared definition of what exactly attention is. As early as 1890 it was assumed that “everyone knows what attention is” (James, 1890, p. 403). However, this simplistic characterization does little to further our understanding of attention.
Decades of inquiry have yielded multiple, and sometimes competing, conceptions of attention. This paper will contemplate modern attention research, considering why the study of attention is important, both generally, and within the field of communication. Common methods utilized to study attention will be considered, as well as ways in which attention is typically operationalized. Finally, this paper will discuss new directions for interactive media research.
Some long-form thoughts on Need for Closure and credibility. Nothing submission worthy, but something I’ve been thinking about (read as, these ideas need further development, and considerable improvement).
The Internet is often regarded as a tool for widespread information distribution. A popular perspective suggests that individuals access the Internet to seek and share novel information. Accordingly, some scholars have considered the important role the Internet plays in facilitating everything from cultural production to personal and political freedom (Benkler, 2006; Jenkins, 2006; Lessig, 2000, 2004, 2006). But this idea is not universally accepted. Scholarship challenging this viewpoint worries that individuals selectively expose themselves to information, utilizing the Internet to confirm existing beliefs while filtering out dissenting information (Anderson, 2006; Johnson, Bichard, & Zhang, 2009; Sunstein, 2007).
In an attempt better understand the extent to which these conflicting perspectives are actually occurring, this paper considers the impact of need for closure (Kruglanski & Webster, 1996) on motivations to assess credibility (Metzger, 2007). The resulting hypotheses suggest that information seeking on the Internet is dependant on individual motivation. At times, individuals seek novel information, while other times opting to seek confirmatory information. Finally, implications and opportunities for future research are discussed.
The latest edition of The Economist published a special report on video games. The piece considers industry growth, fears of violence and game addiction, use of casual games, and games for education and training. Briefly summarized, the article suggests that the games industry has matured to the point that it is difficult to ignore. For those who pay attention to games, this information is likely not all that surprising. Still the video embedded above, and this brief summary of the the special report provide interesting datapoints about the games industry.
A week ago, Ralph Koster linked to a 4-part video series on the history of the MMO genera. Koster’s post does a good job outlining some of the video’s weaknesses including: technical inaccuracies and the strange omission of kids focused MMOs like Club Penguin and other forms of virtual worlds like Second Life. Tobold also has some interesting criticism, even if it is more about a frustration with the genera than the video itself. Personally, I am a bit disappointed by how much the series focus on business models and subscriber bases. I understand both are critical a game’s success, but so is the social capital developed among players. The video considers game success almost in the same way as one would talk about how videos go viral on YouTube. Reasons for play are far more complex. It would have been nice for the video to take a harder look at why players engage these games.
Still, the video series (linked after the fold) is worth a watch. Enjoy!
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a guest lecture by Dmitri Williams. For roughly an hour, Dr. Williams discussed the arc of his research agenda as well as some particularly interesting research findings. His research focuses on MMOs and how these worlds “map” (or serve as a surrogate) for the real world. To answer these questions, Williams combines real data from MMOs with survey data and ethnographic research. The resulting findings are strikingly descriptive of what is actually happening within MMOs – the above video is absolutely worth a watch.
In two days, World of Warcraft turns seven. Yesterday I canceled my account. The two events are unrelated (I do not have a bad case of the seven year itch). I left WoW once before as I was finishing my undergraduate education and focused on starting my career. Once life settled in, I found time to play. Things are different now. WoW is different now. I am busier than ever and the game is no longer enjoyable. In fact, I have not really enjoyed WoW since The Burning Crusade.
Rather than work with a transmission model of communication, in which performers or others attempt to send a message to their audience, [their] events tried to take advantage of what Gerd Stern called ‘the environmental circumstance.’ That is, [they] constructed all-encompassing technological environments, theatrical ecologies in which the audience was simply one species among many… [T]hey built artistic worlds just like ‘God created the universe.’
Here, Turner describes the artistic techniques of the 1960s and 1970s art and media collective USCO. Within this description, it is difficult not to see parallels with today’s virtual world designers. The most obvious similarity is the reference to constructing “all-encompasing technical environments.” USCO events were described as “be-ins” as the audience was to “inhabit and not simply observe the work.” These environments were participatory in nature. The authors created a space for directed thinking, but did not explicitly tell the audience what to think. Fifty years ago, USCO did this through the use of slide projectors, stereo speakers, and strobe lights. Today, these environments are mediated by computer componentry: mice, keyboards, GPUs, and software: World of Warcraft, Second Life, Everquest.
I met Moldycheese back in BC. She was the main holy priest for my guild at the time, Organized Confusion (RIP). Moldycheese and I became good friends, and maintained that friendship even after the guild disbanded. Excitingly, the both of us are going to Blizzcon this year so we can finally meet in person. Moldycheese is also making a cosplay costume of her Troll priest in level 264 tier gear. She has been blogging about the process at Holy Moldy, check it out! Also, Moldycheese was kind enough to answer a few interview questions about the process of making a cosplay outfit, and about her experiences as a WoW player.