Tag Archives: tabula rasa

Absurdity and the mundane

Here’s a bunch of stuff that’s happened/been happening/going to happen:

I’m revising that paper on visualization of chat logs in WoW raiding to map onto expertise development today and tomorrow. One comment is that the section on how I made the charts should be put into an appendix and the paper should focus on the actual argument rather than be a methods paper. That’s spot on, but I needed Constance to confirm it for me. One problem, however, is that some of my lit review is relatively sparse, but I can beef them up a bit, drawing from the excellent expertise work being done by my fellows (ESTG) at the LIFE Center.  Another problem, though, is my analysis isn’t as robust as it could be given that I haven’t had time to chart out all the raiding nights nor go into detail on specific nights to get a clear sense of exactly what is going on. But I guess I’ll have to do as much as I can in the next three days and hope it’s good/interesting/valid enough.

I played a lot of WoW over the holiday break, getting to level 80, getting pretty much the best gear I can get without raiding, etc. Now that classes have started and I’ve hit 80, I’ll probably cut back my WoW time significantly. My subscription is set to end in Feb… I don’t know at this point if I’ll be resubbing (again…).

In related news, I also tried out Tabula Rasa for a week or so. It would be much better with a regular group of people in a LAN party. As it is, it’s visceral and adrenalin pumping, but ultimately it feels like a grind and got too repetitive. It’s a free game right now until the servers shut down in Feb, so if you want to check it out (Windows only), let me know and I can play with for a bit…

I’m taking 4 courses this quarter rather than just working on my dissertation. All of these haven’t been offered during my stay here at UW before.

  • Phil Bell and Suzanne Reeve (one of his students and one of my cohorts since I’m also one of his students) are coteaching a Learning Across Settings class, drawing from a lot of what LIFE does… specifically the “I” in LIFE (Learning in Informal and Formal Environments), internally known as Strand 2 of LIFE.
  • Reed Stevens is teaching a Technology in Contexts class that will focus on Activity Theory, Actor Network Theory, and Distributed Cognition. These three theories are pretty much the ones I need to focus on in my diss, so this class seemed like a no brainer, especially since I get most of my learning from classes, meetings, face-to-face interactions, and conferences, not being a good independent reader and all…  too many games.
  • Terry Schenold, a grad student in English, and Tim Welsh (who I haven’t met yet–our first class starts in half an hour) are leading another seminar on gaming this quarter as part of the Critical Gaming Project here at UW. This one is called Pandora’s Wake and is essentially visions of dystopic futures and hope as portrayed by Children of Men (film), Fallout 2 (computer game), and The Road (novel). Awesome. I installed Fallout 2 on my mini netbook this morning. Turns out there’s a few mods out there that fix bugs the original developers never fixed, add new areas and quests, and make it playable at higher resolutions. Due to compatibility issues (as in you can’t install all of the mods that are out there at the same time), I opted to go with the consensus as found on the No Mutants Allowed forums (killap’s Restoration Project and the Resolution Patch).
  • And finally, I’m going to attend a seminar onthe college of ed’s common book, Lipsitz’s The Possessive Investment of Whiteness. Issues of social justice have been gaining prominence in what I’m thinking about, though, it hasn’t really surfaced in my research. This class hopefully will help me think through some things, as past classes, discussions with others, and involvement with the grad student group Educators for Social Justice has.

Anyway, all this work and new activity with the new quarter just starting up seems like complete bullshit against the backdrop of world events and the civilian deaths in Gaza. On the Red Square today were two protest groups standing at odds with each other on either side of the square, one group holding up signs like “Israel has a right to defend itself” and the other with signs like “As a Jew, I’m against Israel’s attacks against Gaza.” And meanwhile, we’re just walking through like this is completely normal. WTF is wrong with us?

A bunch of short game reviews

I took a week break after finishing a paper for submission to E-Learning.

(That sounds more impressive than it is, I think… Constance S. is guest editing a games issue to come out next Spring and invited me to submit something, but what I submitted was completely out of left field, focusing on data visualization and going into some detail on how one could do the same–including SQL statements and shit like that–so I have no idea if it’ll get accepted.)

Anyway, for the past week (and honestly, while writing that paper, so more like for the past 3 weeks), I’ve been playing a lot. Actually, I think there might be a relationship to my productivity and how much I play… not inverse as would be assumed… I think when I play a lot, I write a lot… maybe… I would have to start tracking it to see if that is true. Or maybe it’s that I play many games rather than sticking with one game… restlessness or something.

But, again, anyway, for the past bit I’ve played many different games, so thought I’d post real quick impressions for some of them:

  • Fallout 3 – excellent, of course, but it could have been better. As I mentioned a month ago, some of the humor is gone, as are cool random encounters, but the world is amazingly realized and depressing. The ending sucked ass. First, it heavy-handedly forced me to sacrifice myself or another human to save the wasteland, which didn’t make any sense at all given how much Rad-X and Rad-Away I had on me, not to mention that I had a Supermutant buddy with me who is immune to radiation sickness. Then after I died, the game ended with a really lame narration without any nuance (or, actually, way too subtle a nuance) instead of detailed narration of the different factions I impacted (like in Fallout 1 and Fallout 2).
  • Tomb Raider: Underworld – For some reason I liked Legend but not Anniversary. I liked Underworld, too. Maybe too much combat in Anniversary? The Crystal Dynamics version of Lara generally moves and feels spot on.

  • Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir – the second expansion is significantly different. Mask of the Betrayer had some really good writing and dialog/narrative that started to echo Planescape good. Storm of Zehir, on the other hand, is more of an old-school, wander around an overhead map type of game. That part of it was actually pretty cool and it sort of filled my desire for that kind of game that Fallout 3 didn’t have. On top of that, the ending narration and how it dynamically changed based on my impact to the world was exactly what was missing from Fallout 3.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 user modules:
    • Harp & Crysanthemum – Amazing. Just part one is done, unfortunately, but quite well done.
    • Subtlety of Thay – Also amazing, maybe a little less so, but way, way longer, but buggy as hell with the new 1.21 version of NWN2. Wait a bit for the author to fix it. I couldn’t finish chapter 2 due to game stopping bugs. But beforehand, I was imagining this module as a TV series. It’s easily on par with any of the official campaigns.

I also just started playing Tabula Rasa, which will be free to play starting Jan 10 since they are closing the servers in Feb. 🙁 It’s pretty good so far. I like FPS combat in a MMOG. Also, I found a quest that makes you have to decide whether to be greedy/shady or lawful. Nice. A step in the right direction.

I just got Left4Dead and Wrath of the Lich King, too. Xmas break will be fun.

But I also have to finish, finally, my dissertation proposal draft, which I’m hoping will be done by the end of the month.