All posts by markdangerchen

Mark Chen is an independent researcher of gaming culture and spare-time game designer. He is the author of Leet Noobs: The Life and Death of an Expert Player Group in World of Warcraft. Currently, he is looking into experimental and artistic games to promote exploration of moral dilemmas and human nature, researching DIY subcultures of Board Game Geek users, and generally investigating esoteric gaming practices. Mark also holds appointments at Pepperdine University, University of Washington, and University of Ontario Institute of Technology, teaching a variety of online and offline courses on game studies, game design, and games for learning. He earned a PhD in Learning Sciences/Educational Technology from the University of Washington and a BA in Studio Art from Reed College.

Live action MMOG?

I was playing around with the idea of working for my former employer, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. My old manager (who I thought was horrible at managing) isn’t there anymore and the head of the department we were in (who I also thought was a horrible manager) is also no longer there. I daydream about what the workplace could be like, but in the back of my head I know a lot of things won’t change. If I were to get there, any grand designs I have for their website and education programs and incorporating games into education would be put on the back-burner while the day-to-day crap would overwhelm me.

But still… I was thinking this morning. What if we created a mini web-based MMOG which featured science learning as quests? Would kids be into that? Completing an activity/quest could give players an equipable item for their paper doll inventory… I dunno… The details could probably be worked out, but it would require money which a non-profit does not have.

Then I thought… hmm… what if it were a live-action MMOG which took place in the museum itself? That might work. Kids would complete quests by demonstrating knowledge which they can get from certain exhibits. Upon completion they get a reward of some sort which allows them access to other areas… hmmmm…

I dunno… Just a thought.

Here comes Dr. Tran

OMG… Don’t know how I missed this… someone asked me today about the Danger in my name, whether I was dangerous to Chens or a dangerous Chen. When I replied neither, he asked, “so you’re like Dr. Tran?”

Check it out.. I am kinda… I mean, I don’t really have anything to do with danger…

Comaraderie an important part of effective teamwork?

Last week we had some loot drama during one of our MC runs. I noticed that during the evening people weren’t joking around with each other like we usually do. I think several of us were feeling under the weather or dealing with stress from “real life” issues. It all came together and resulted in a funky raid, which simmered throughout the night, finally reaching a boiling point by manifesting itself as loot drama.

Part of my looking at coordination and cooperation was to include the usual stuff like negotiating roles, effective communication, situational awareness, group stuff… you know…

But this thing… this funky feeling. I think it might be important. If it happens again, is all that is needed to fix it some joking around? And if it does happen again, do I sit back and let it to see if it IS a pattern or do I break the silence and try to lighten things up because I’m a gamer who wants a good experience? Interesting.

[Edit June 24] I ended up writing a paper on comaraderie and teamwork in WoW!

Delirium dreams

You know how sometimes when you are sick your head feels really heavy and you can’t move it very fast? Maybe you have a fever and sore throat and stuffy sinuses. And when you sleep it’s sort of a groggy delirium? Well, I’ve been sick for the past 4 days and just woke up from a stupor this morning which I will probably fall back into in a couple of hours… (it’s why I haven’t posted anything recently.)

I was dreaming about soccer, specifically about kicking the ball as hard as I could to get it out of our defense. And when I kicked it, it curved a bit to the right and was beautiful. Slow motion… Everything else–the players, the field–was indistinct. Just my foot and the ball’s arc.

I haven’t played soccer in any serious way for like 18 years. But now I feel like playing again… 😛 Problem is, if I start playing again, I’ll remember how much I sucked.

You are the WoW to me…

things to do

Here’s my list of things to do:

1. write about ethnography in an online game.. and get really nitty gritty

2. post my writings about adventure games

3. put up an annotated transcript from MC or Onyx so people can see how complex things are

4. write an article about games and coordination in games FOR gamers

I’m going to let go of my fears, instilled by academics, that I shouldn’t publish anything other than finished stuff. If you take one of these ideas and do it, that’s great! My version will be different than yours and we can share data.

Even though buses (or more to the point, people on buses) smell, there’s something to be said about the time to reflect.

I was thinking about AERA today… the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting is in San Francisco this year. I’m not there. Just like I didn’t attend / won’t be attending the Games, Learning, Society conference, the Education Arcade conference, and GDC this year and last… I just can’t afford it. My parents live in Sunnyvale and my brother lives in San Francisco, too, so even though I would save a bundle on not having to stay in hotels, I still can’t afford it. And I got really pissed off. (Coincidentally, I was thinking about this while waiting for the bus. Someone ought to make a movie about how much thinking happens on or around buses or subways…) I mean, part of the way to get your name out there is through networking. The most valuable thing about conferences is the face time you get with colleagues. But people who are not funded and cannot afford the fees on their own are shit out of luck. We have to work that much harder through other means. While I could just buckle down and be a good boy and work with the system… I dunno… It just seems unfair.

Wow… I have an audience!

Amazingly, someone besides me has read my blog! And I’m proud to say that David Silver himself has commented on what I wrote about regarding academia which was spurred by meeting him on the bus earlier this week… Scroll down to that post and read his comments!

musical selection

Last night Robin asked why I keep playing old stuff from the 80s and early 90s when I listen to music at home. My answer was that I felt nostalgic and that the modern rock / alternative music is melancholy at heart with tons of wondering what the hell is wrong with the world and why is love so difficult… Anyway… I dunno. I mostly listen to music just for something to have in the background while working and when I want something to not pay attention to in the background it either has to be electronica with no lyrics or music that I’ve pre-screened. And since I am so out of touch with music nowadays, I basically have to pick stuff I’m familiar with… Last night I was listening to The Cure, INXS, and New Order.

Lots of new stuff

I think this initial wave of postings will die down in a week or so… I’ve been saving up a bunch of stuff to post. I have to dig up a short thing I wrote up about adventure games during the Summer-O-Adventure-Games last year and post that, too.

I just added the GaSWorks wiki page to my links. I’ve never quite felt comfortable in that group since they emphasize the simulation part of “games and simulation.” I always felt like we just couldn’t communicate very well since I’m focusing on non-design work… qualitative in nature even!

It’s a shame that the group I felt most comfortable in is in hiatus these past two quarters. We had such grand designs for a UW website, too. ah well…