Sunday, June 01, 2008
Virtual Economies! Ludocapitalism! Bullets! (A Q2 FY'08 Update)
It's been a busy few months, not that you'd know it from the pace of updates around here.
Or maybe you would. I suppose, after all, that if the Internet has left standing even one detectable difference between the professional writer and the "amateur," it's that the professional writers' blogs reliably go dead when they actually have work to do -- procrastination being the mother of 99 percent of blog writing, and more writing being typically the working writer's least favorite form of procrastination.
But I digress, which is also typical, and also partly why I'm loath to check in here when the workload gets heavy. I mean, one minute I'm logged into Blogger bent on dashing off a quick, three-line announcement of my latest low-profit side project, and next thing you know I've spent an even lower-profit week unwinding the four-year narrative behind said project.
Perhaps the lesson is that there'd be more profit all around if I were to save the narratives for paying gigs and approach this blog thing here as more of a never-ending bullet list. In which spirit I present herewith, and without apology the accumulated bullet points of my fiscal year to date:
- Published, in the February issue of Wired, Mutilated Furries, Flying Phalluses: Put the Blame on Griefers, the Sociopaths of the Virtual World, an article admired by some and reviled by others, which given the subject, sort of figures
- Gave a talk on virtual economies and ludocapitalism, March 12, at The Game Is Up! arts festival in Ghent, Belgium, where I also hobnobbed with such notables as Christophe Bruno, Régine Debatty, and the Reverend Billy, and made my debut as a professional artist, selling three copies of a handbound, limited, contractually unreadable edition of Play Money to the festival organizers for 500 euros
- Made my debut as a professional artist on March 13, more precisely, when after two all-nighters in a Belgian hotel room completing the aforementioned handbound copies of Play Money, I handed them over to the organizers to be marketed alongside other art objects in the festival's "Art for Sale" vending-machine exhibition
- Made my debut as a professional artist, just in case that wasn't clear
- I'm digressing, aren't I? Sorry!
- Vacationed March 19-25 in Costa Rica, home of Latin America's least remarkable national culture and most adorable local fauna (may I recommend the squirrel monkeys?)
- Gave another talk on virtual economies and ludocapitalism, April 2, at Rochester Institute of Technology, invited there by the awesome Elizabeth Lane Lawley
- Gave another talk, yes, but not just yet another talk, no, this talk was the 2008 Harry J. Skornia Distinguished Lecture in Public Broadcasting, delivered by me to the assembled bright minds of the University of Illinois's fifth annual Communication Collaboration Conference, April 11, on the subject of, um, virtual economies and ludocapitalism
- Gave a talk, April 19, in Gijón, Spain, at Homo Ludens Ludens, "an international exhibition and conference examining play as a principal element of today's world," which was a lot more interesting than it sounds, and yes, the talk was about virtual economies and ludocapitalism, except I changed it up this time with a daring and perhaps deranged consideration of possible connections between the rooms in China where gold farmers work live and the Chinese room invented by John Searle as a thought experiment in the philosophy of artificial intelligence, about which more later, I expect
- Sat on a panel on Relationships between WoW and the "Real World", May 10, at Day 2 of Convergence of the Real and the Virtual -- "The First Scientific Conference in World of Warcraft," at which, curiously enough, I said very little about virtual economies, ludocapitalism, or anything else, it being just about all I could do to sort out who among the chatty throng of blood elves, Taurens, trolls, and orcs assembled for the event in the sewers of Undercity were my co-panelists
- Attended an NSF-sponsored workshop on Productive Play, May 16-18, at UC Irvine, California, where I expected to spend the weekend talking about virtual economies and ludocapitalism but instead embarked on a stimulating tour of every subject you'd imagine coming up with Thomas Malaby, Tom Boellstorff, T. L. Taylor, David Shaffner, Randy Farmer and Chip Morningstar, Pavel Curtis (!), and similarly insightful veterans of online games' long march to academic respectability packed into a room together with bottomless free coffee for two days
- Wrote sundry short items, throughout April and May, for the UK daily Telegraph, on topics ranging from sex with robots to the future of the Internet to the rise of the brickfilm auteur because, it turns out, there actually are other things to talk about besides, well, you know