Category Archives: Academia

Academics do a horrible job of supporting each other

Well, that’s a generalization, but it seems pretty clear that words of encouragement from our peers in the academe doesn’t happen often enough. I mean, there’s a dichotomy between wanting to make a name for ourselves and at the same time being really, really happy and proud of other people when they succeed. When we are really, really happy for others, we aren’t letting them know well enough, which translates to when it is our turn to be proud of our achievements, we don’t get enough encouragement from our peers.

Kurt Squire, professor at UWisc Madison, and a driving force in the new wave of video game studies, recently posted a comment about how Bill had a positive influence on his life when he was going through graduate studies and again as a new professional. I wonder if he ever told Bill that, and it makes me have to relook at myself and wonder if I’ve been letting others know how much influence they have on me. Come to think of it… Kurt, we hardly know each other but you’ve always been very helpful whenever I sought advice. Thank you.

The former dean of engineering at UW and more recently the chancellor at UCSC, Denise Denton , recently committed suicide. No one has formally said this, but it is generally understood that Bill also committed suicide. What is it about this profession? I think part of it is that we aren’t letting each other know we appreciate each other as people and as academics.

It also has been a minor shock to my world view. For some reason I had always assumed acts of suicide were typical of angsty teens or 20-somethings going through deep depression. To see two people who were nearing the end of their successful careers… I dunno… shock. Makes me wonder about what success means.

Hitman coaching

So, a friend from high school, Grey, was here during the crazy week of papers, professor deaths, and emotional turmoil. My apologies to him for not being able to devote as much time as I had hoped to gaming.

We and another high school friend of ours who also lives in Seattle did, however, get to make it to a monthly boardgame fest held by a couple who work for Wizards of the Coast (well, at least one of them does I think). Anyway, they have a lot of games. We played Killer Bunnies, some color-matching card game, Cartejena, Witch Trial, some ship moving collect and sell resources at ports game, and that archeological dig game with the tokens… Sheesh.. I need to remember the names of these games better.

We also played Hitman Blood Money on my PC. I had played the previous Hitman games and also played a bit of Blood Money before Grey showed up. He played a little on his own at night but one morning we were playing together. One would watch while the other played and we would switch off whenever someone failed. It was pretty clear that I knew the levels and the patterns of people walking around and what events were happening more than he did for any given level/mission. So when he was playing and I watching, I had to think about how much information should I give Grey and how much should I just let him explore on his own.

Actually, it felt a lot like how I felt when I was looking over TEP students' shoulders while they were working on their websites or blogs. Just thought I should write that feeling down before I lost it… What was similar about both was that I could feel the students and I could feel Grey wishing I would just tell them what to do. But in a game, part of the fun is exploration and discovery. I think that should be part of learning, too, and believe strongly that the best way to learn something is to just mess around with it for a while with a goal in mind. Am I wrong?

I don’t fit in sometimes…

A couple of guys from MS are coming as guests to a GaSworks meeting. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really feel comfortable in the GaSworks group. The problem is that my view of the world is very different than theirs. I feel like there’s no room for me there. And even if they say my opinions are valued, what does that give me? Are they really valued? Truly? All I usually get are blank stares. I don’t think there’s comprehension. (This whole thing reeks of the general feelings some minorities in our college feel, and the futility of trying to explain what that feeling is…)

That along with the fact that I have a conflicting overlapping meeting on the same day led me to tell the organizer that I couldn’t make it. She’s good at guilt-tripping though and cajoled me into going for the first bit of the meeting at least. Is it just me or is it crazy to expect gamers to meet at 8:30 in the morning? (Something about gaming culture vs. engineering culture maybe can go here… which is pretty much the problem.. that they are so focused on creating educational systems. I’m just not convinced they can speak to gamers instead of just emulating game-like things… similar analogy here between ethnography and mimicking ethnographic methods?) But maybe the guys at MS who are coming DO get where I’m coming from, so I should probably go.

Part of my reluctance is the other meeting I have is the last one for the TEP TAs this year which is basically the last time I will see a lot of new friends I made this year.

On top of that, it is off-campus. You know the concept of “white privilege?” Well, in the US, an analogy could probably be made to “car privilege.” I’ve also stated before that to get ahead in academia requires a good amount of money so you can attend conferences. It is soooo against introverts and the disabled. And the poor… which unfortunately in the US also means ethnic minorities and women. but now I’m just rambling.

Games for Change Conference. June 27th and 28th, 2006. New York, NY

Games for Change Conference. June 27th and 28th, 2006. New York, NY

Wow.. I wish I had money.

I feel dirty…

I just shotgunned friend requests on myspace to a bunch of people in COE… Some of them prob have no idea who the request is from.

Dr. Mike’s Blog » Blog Archive » FAQ for Uploading a Picture to Your Space and Adding it to a Post

Dr. Mike’s Blog » Blog Archive » FAQ for Uploading a Picture to Your Space and Adding it to a Post


David Silver again!?

Wow, I gotta say… the bus definitely has its moments. Today, David Silver and I happened to meet up on the bus again! this time on the way home.

Here’s something cool. My initial inclination was to say that the conversation was one-sided, in that all we seemed to talk about was my current research, but you know what? David is a terrific person to talk to and bounce ideas off of… Normally when I find myself talking about what I’m doing, I’m doing most of the talking, but this time there was so much back and forth with David continually pressing me to clarify… it was great! So, we did sort of just talk about my research but the dialog was so very organic that it didn’t feel one-sided.
Anyway, I just also have to say that it is totally awesome to talk to someone who actually finds what you do interesting. How validating!

Parallel papers on my research

I am writing two papers this quarter on my ethnographic research in World of Warcraft which focuses on how people (learn to) communicate and cooperate in a high-end instance. Here's the catch: while one paper will be written as a regular academic paper suitable for publication in a journal, the other version will be for gamers and published on this blog. We'll see how it goes…

Becker on writing

I recently read Becker's book Writing for Social Scientists. Wow. It addresses several reasons why people sometimes feel paralyzed when tasked with writing about their research. It is simple yet very inspiring, letting me see that I am not alone with some of the feelings I have about how unnatural the writing process is… I would highly recommend it for anyone who wants to write about research… actually, anyone who wants to write in general.

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…