Internet Spaceships Are
Serious Business Ready for Pre-Order
At the FDG conference in Raleigh, NC, I met two other PhD students: Marcus Carter and Darryl Woodford. We were all writing about EVE Online, but up until that point in time had not ever met anyone else working on this particular MMOG. On a lunch break we first hatched our plan to write a book. First, we hosted a workshop at the FDG in Greece, then another at DiGRA Atlanta. So many other EVE scholars came forward and we realized that many people had a lot to things to say about internet spaceships. We wrote a book proposal. Sitting in a brewery in Salt Lake City before heading up the mountain for DiGRA Snowbird, I got the email from University of Minnesota Press that the reviews were positive and they wanted to move forward with publication. And now here we are, with a March 2016 expected release date. This book has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited that it is almost here.
I’m happy to announce that the CFP for the 2016 meeting of the Canadian Game Studies Association is now live: http://gamestudies.ca/conference/
This time around we will be meeting at the University of Calgary from June 1-3 2016 — Go Dinos! I’m excited to be back at the institution where I completed my MA and am looking forward to another great year of exciting Canadian games scholarship.
It has been a very busy September!
I already shared the news on twitter, but I am now Dr. Bergstrom. The dissertation is done and defended. In the end I only had to fight a very small snake and I’ve already stepped into my new role as a post doc in the PlayCES Lab.
In other news, I recently saw the cover art for Internet Spaceships are Serious Business and it is beautiful. It is hard to believe that the book that started as a conversation around the table at FGD in Raleigh, NC is just about ready to be published. We are doing final copyedits and are on track for a Spring 2016 publication. Exciting news!
My co-authors and I just sent off the final version of “EVE is Real” to this year’s DiGRA organizers. This collaborative piece takes a look at EVE from four different perspectives to unpack the colloquial phrase “EVE is Real”. If you’ve read my other work about EVE, it should be no surprise that my contribution is the section “are some parts of EVE more real than others?”
Eventually it will make its way into the DiGRA Digital Library, but you can read an advance copy of this paper online here. I am not attending this year’s conference as it cuts a bit too close to CGSA, but I will be looking forward to reading the proceedings and seeing the lively discussions on the hashtag!
Carter, M., Bergstrom, K., Webber, N. & Milik, O. (in press). “EVE is Real”. In Proceedings of DiGRA 2015 Conference: Diversity of play: Games – Cultures – Identities. 1-17.
EVE is Real
Used in a wide variety of contexts, a common colloquialism among EVE Online players is the phrase ‘EVE is real’. In this paper, we examine the various ways in which EVE is considered ‘real’ by its players, identifying a nuanced and powerful concept that goes significantly beyond real/virtual distinctions that have already been critiqued in game studies literature. We argue that, as a form of paratext, colloquialisms like this play an enormous role in shaping EVE Online’s informal rules (in particular towards treachery), constructing the identity of EVE Online players, communicating the seriousness of EVE Online play while in other cases, emphasizing the gameness of the MMOG
It seems like the only time I update this blog is to make an announcement about a new publication 🙂
I am happy to announce that ‘The keys to success’ is now in print. This is a revised version of the paper presented at ICA 2014 (where we won first place in the Game Studies best paper award category). As with all of my work, if you don’t have access to this paper please send me a note and I am happy to share an author’s copy.
Kelly Bergstrom, Jennifer Jenson, Richard Hydomako, and Suzanne de Castell. The keys to success: Supplemental measures of player expertise in Massively Multiplayer Online Games. Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds. 7(1) pp. 101-121. DOI: 10.1386/jgvw.7.1.101_1
The keys to success: Supplemental measures of player expertise in Massively Multiplayer Online Games
In this article we describe an investigation of player expertise deployed as part of a mixed-methods longitudinal, multi-site study that examined whether and how players’ offline characteristics are recognizable in their online interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs). After detailing our methodology and analytical toolkit, we narrow our focus to a case study that examines three players with previous experience in First-Person Shooter (FPS) games playing Rift (Trion Worlds 2011) (a fantasy-themed MMOG) for the very first time. This case study illuminates how interpretation of data can be inadvertently influenced by the researcher’s choice of technologies and methods employed in their study design. In particular, we demonstrate that initial research assessments of a player’s level of skill may be inaccurate and how the use of multiple data sources acts as a means for triangulating observations and analyses providing a richer – yet more complicated – view of player expertise.
If you don’t have access to Convergence please send me a note! Otherwise it is available online here.
Kelly Bergstrom, Stephanie Fisher, and Jennifer Jenson. Disavowing ‘That Guy’: Identity construction and massively multiplayer online game players. Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. first published on December 8, 2014 doi:10.1177/1354856514560314
Disavowing ‘That Guy’: Identity construction and massively multiplayer online game players
Using Goffman’s ‘keys and frames’ as an analytical framework, this article explores depictions of massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) players in newspaper coverage, popular media (South Park and The Big Bang Theory), and Web-based productions (The Guild and Pure Pwnage) and player reactions to these largely stereotypical portrayals. Following this discussion, we present data from a longitudinal study of MMOG players, focusing on our study’s unintentional provoking of participants to react to (and ultimately reject) these stereotypes in their survey responses. We argue this is of particular interest to researchers studying MMOG players or members of other heavily satirized communities, as these stereotypes influence the ways study participants practice identity management and frame their own gaming practices, even in the context of an academic study that was explicitly not about addiction or the negative effects of digital game play.
I recently got word that I have another paper that has been accepted for publication. This one was co-authored with Nick Taylor, Jen Jenson, and Suzanne de Castell. My contribution comes right out of my dissertation so think of this paper as a sneak-peek of chapter 3 (where I argue that only a very narrow type of play practices make up the majority of public conversations about EVE).
We are only just entering the copyediting phase so it will be a while before it appears in online before print, so for now here is the abstract:
Alienated Playbour: Relations of Production in EVE Online
This paper explores the play practices of EVE Online industrialists: those primarily responsible for generating the materials and equipment that drive the game’s robust economy. Applying the concept of “immaterial labour” to this under-attended aspect of the EVE community, we consider the range of communicative and informational artifacts and activities industrialists enact in support of their involvement in the game – work that happens both in-game and, crucially outside of it. Moving past the increasingly anachronistic distinctions between digitally-mediated labour and leisure, in-game and out-of-game, we examine the relations of production in which these players are situated: to other EVE players, in-game corporations, the game’s developer, and the broader digital economy. Seen from this perspective, we consider the extent to which EVE both ideologically and economically supports the extension of capital into increasing aspects of our everyday lives – a ‘game’ in which many play, but few win.
This paper is a collaboration with Stephanie Fisher and Jennifer Jenson. It began as a conference presentation in July 2011, went through a few rewrites, and now I’m pretty happy where we ended up.
Disavowing ‘That Guy’: Identity Construction and Massively Multiplayer Online Game Players
Abstract: Using Goffman’s ‘keys and frames’ as an analytical framework, this paper explores depictions of Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) players in newspaper coverage, popular media (South Park, The Big Bang Theory), and web-based productions (The Guild, Pure Pwnage), and player reactions to these largely stereotypical portrayals. Following this discussion, we present data from a longitudinal study of MMOG players, focusing on our study’s unintentional provoking of participants to react to (and ultimately reject) these stereotypes in their survey responses. We argue this is of particular interest to researchers studying MMOG players or members of other heavily satirized communities, as these stereotypes influence the ways study participants practice identity management and frame their own gaming practices, even in the context of an academic study that was explicitly not about addiction or the negative effects of digital game play.
The abstract provides an overview of the paper, but I think the take home message is best illustrated in the last two lines of the conclusion:
While game studies has matured into a field that can look past these stereotypes and position MMOGs as a venue for positive social interaction, it is hoped that this paper has drawn attention to the fact that this hospitality is not necessarily present in the lived realities of the gamers we study. It may well be that paying insufficient attention to the wider contexts of participants lives, as researchers we may inadvertently blinding ourselves to the stories our participants are attempting to share about their negotiations and renegotiations between stereotypical media portrayals, and their own everyday lived realities as MMOG gamers.
Once I get the final proofs back from the editors, I’ll update this post to include an author’s copy of the entire paper.
I woke up this morning to 300 comments awaiting moderation. It seems like WordPress is facing an uptick of spammers, so for the foreseeable future I’ve deleted the comment feature for the entire site.
If you need to reach me, please drop me a line via kellybergstrom at gmail.
I’m putting the final touches on a new article that investigates what I’m calling “survey fatigue” on the official World of Warcraft forums. This comes directly out of my experiences doing data collection for my dissertation and is a result of me trying to figure out why posting to an EVE forum netted so many responses that my server crashed, while the WoW forums was lukewarm at best. In this paper I argue that the WoW forums are over-utilized when it comes to survey recruitment, and the bad behaviour of some researchers (no informed consent documents, arguing with the players on the forums, etc) is a significant problem that needs to be addressed.
The abstract that I just uploaded to the DiGRA conference site can also be read here and stay tuned for the full paper!