klastrup AT it-c.dk

This is the research diary of Lisbeth Klastrup. Here I share some of my thoughts on life, universe, virtual worlds, interactive stories and internet oddities with you.

I'm a ph.d. scholar at DIAC at the IT University at Copenhagen (ITU). I also host & work in a world called StoryMOO. At this ITU homepage you can read more about my research project and miscellaneus activities. List of publications is here.

Current month

Fellow researchers
Jesper Juul
Susana Tosca
Troels Degn Johansson
Estrid Soerensen
Lars Konzack
Kenneth Hansen
Gabriel Hansen
Joergen Callesen
Soeren Pold

Jill Walker's blog
Torill Mortensen's blog
Ragnhild Tronstad
Hilde Corneliussen's blog
Carsten Jopp's blog
Anders Fagerjord's blog

Anna Gunder
Jenny Sunden
Mikael Jacobsson

Aki Jarvinen
Markku Eskelinen
Raine Koskimaa

-The World
Gonzalo Frasca's blog (URU, US)
Anja Rau's blog (DE)
Elin Sjursen's blog (NO, US)
Frank Schaap's blog (NL)
Adrian Miles' Vog blog (AUSTR.)
Mark Bernstein's blog (US.)

Related Reads
Dust from a Distant Sun (DK)
Cykelkokken (DK, in Danish)
Two Years in Denmark (DK,US)
Future Dr. Karlsbjerg (DK)
Laurel.blog (US)
Texturl (US)

©Lisbeth Klastrup 2002

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Go SoA! I have started to subscribe to Jubii Games newsletter, which actally turns out to be pretty good. Includes reviews, breaking news etc. In this day's issue they have a thorough description and discussion of each of the players on the Danish Counter-Strike team Spirit of Amiga (SoA) who is going to represent Denmark in the Counter-Strike World Championship in Texas next week. Pretty much like the description of every other sportsteam - we are just talking "cybersports" here! - and this team actually dreams about becoming professionals - apparently there is already lots of money involved in this sport (championship boasts cash prices of $150,000). Will serious team gameplaying actually become the next big spectator sport? There is an article about this phenomena in BBC online, which Espen pointed me to some time ago. Check out Jubii Games and sign up for newsletter here

Posting style reflections...As some of you faithful readers may have noticed, I have moved some of my recent longer posts to another place, so they are now a click away and sitting somewhere else on this server. I like both to read and write long posts occasionally, but when I look at my own site and just see a lot of text, and think: would I feel encouraged to read this if I was new to this site? I know I wouldn't. Certainly also a question of how I have set up the site in general, but I am kind of comfortable with the way it looks now, so will try with the linking to local pages with much text for a while and see how it works and contemplate whether it is too much work to do it that way. Wish Bernstein would make a PC-version of Ceres, could be fun to test...

GameDex!, resource site.

Choriambics -- I, poem by Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) - from Experiments (1908-1911)
Ah! not now, when desire burns, and the wind calls, and
the suns of spring
Light-foot dance in the woods, whisper of life, woo me
to wayfaring;
[read more]

Weekly stats of most visited Danish websites at FDIM - Foreningen af Danske Internet Medier (The Society of Danish Internet Media).

Arghh! Did other people than me experience problems with Blogger yesterday? I tried posting most of the day (you will NOW se yesterday's posts below) and Blogger kept telling me that transfer was succesful. It just never happened - and if I waited long enough, the ftplog would tell me that there was a problem with the "control connection" (whereever that resides??). Well, looks like we are up and running now, but a damn pain nevertheless. I want my tools to work!

Lars Konzacks other blogg (in Danish): Økologisk Moderne Kunst (Modern Ecological Art). Via this list of Danish Webloggs: Armarium.

Women and Computer Science resource site. Wish I could look that good holding my 21" pc screen....

What I am currently working on: an under-construction list of interaction - interactivity definitions in chronological order. If you know of others, please let me know!

Borgesian enterprise on the net: the Cyberatlas actual size US map - if you look carefully and follow the links, you will end up in San Anselmo...

"How long can you be happy with someone who is never there?" asks technology-reflectivist Peter de Jager in a Danish article on the effects of the e-mail and mobile phone on people's (working) lives. The fact that you can always be reached by your work via e-mail or mobile phone means that you are never off-work.He says: what happens to family life if mum spends little Otto's birthday checking e-mails or Sunday morning driving dad to work because he has been summoned there via mobile? What has gone wrong when people feel it is ok to asnwer the mobile in the middle of an important conversation - or in the cinema? - Clearly I can see de Jagers point and I think it might be a good idea, as he suggests, to enforce a compagny culture in which there is, in fact, a clear division between when people is at work and off-work. He himself got rid of his mobile phone 3 years ago and refuses be available via phone or email when he is out traveling. But when that is said, I must admit, that I like the flexibility of life which the mobile phone and e-mail have provided me with. I like the fact that I can sit here in Norway and feel secure knowing that my family can always and immediately reach me via the mobile if my mum is taken ill. That my friends in Denmark can send me encouraging sms's on a Sunday when I'm feeling low. That though I have spent several months away from Denmark, via e-mail I am up-to-date with the most important events in the lives of my friends and family - and also aware of all the political decisions which have been made on my workplace and communicated to the employers via e-mail continously. Let us not forget that it is not technology in itself that is inherently bad, it is the way we use it and the cultures we build around it that changes our lives.
- See also my post about the conference on mobile cultures in Finland.

Many useful links to online worlds and sources at T.L. Taylor's Internet Resource Page. Including link to WomanGamers.com.

Screen take-over!! DO NOT LOOK AT ANY OF THESE SITES: http://images.bonzi.com/advertising/bonzibuddyfree.asp or bonzi.com. Ok, so when surfing before at Salon.com, I clicked on this commercial site for a virual companion called BonziBuddy. And bookmarked page about it for my virtual character section, since for research reasons I like to keep track of versions of those. But now found out that they have set up the site so that it automatically overwrites your "Home"-button URL and replaces it with the bonzi.com portal instead. Nowhere was I asked if I wanted this, though now I see that if I am "lucky", they ask me when leaving the site in a pop-up window if I want it as my home, so perhaps a bug but it doesn't matter. Definitely effective as commercial gimmick, but I am not sure it has the intended effected. Frankly, I am pretty pissed off by this, to me it borders on infringement of privacy, but there is not much I can do about it. Perhaps another good argument why I should no longer use Internet Explorer?

A little treat for those of you who didn't get tickets for the Harry Potter-movie this weekend (yours truly included). British actor reads an extract from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone . The film got a raving review in Politiken, so looking forward to watching it. It is a comfort that I have long time since got tickets for the premier day of Lord of the Rings, going for that on December 19th when back in Denmark, with my 13-year-old nephew as compagny and looking much forward to it (doing a little dance of joy here, I am).

At Edgames Blogg, there is a interesting post about the number and gender of people playing Quake and Doom in a group of 200 highschool (?) kids.The poster did an unofficial poll in his classes and it turned out that 2/3s of them had in fact played Quake, Doom or the like. Several girls too, who would team up with other girls to play. Any females outthere wanna play Quake with me?

I have not done it before (at least not here), so today might be the perfect opportunity to quote the honourable Danish philosopher Søren Kirkegaard- on becoming a minister of state and i.e. the current affairs of Danish politics (apologies to the non-Danish readers amongst the audience, but this quote is too hard to translate):

Statskløgten i de moderne Stater er ikke: hvorledes man skal bære sig ad med at være Minister; men: hvorledes man skal bære sig ad for at blive Minister; mere veed man ikke, saa man egentlig forbruger sin Viisdom i et Slags Indlednings-Videnskab til det at blive Minister. Paa den Maade maa Staterne opløses; thi der bliver egentlig ikke regjeret eller styret. I en ældre Tid, da der var mere Ro i Tilværelsen, vare der kun Faae, som kunde gjøre sig Haab om at blive Ministre, de fik saa Tid til at danne sig til at være det. Nu er Muligheden aabnet for Enhver, Trængselen om at blive det saa stor, at en heel Kunst er fornøden for om muligt at trænge igjennem til at blive det. Hertil danne de sig saa, forbruge deres Tid og Flid i dette Studium - og saa bliver En Minister, men veed ikke mere. Naivt kunde han sige: jeg har ikke dannet mig til at være men til at blive Minister; og i denne Henseende har jeg jo viist, at jeg var ferm.

By way of the Political Humorsite, The Banana Boat song (featuring Powell and Bush) and The Taliban on Broadway. It just never stops, does it?

Well, not that I personally see very much "political humor" in the fact that the Danes has just elected the most conservative government in several decades, forcing the Centrum-Right party to rely entirely on "Dansk Folkeparti" (The Danish Peoples Party) to stay in power. Dansk Folkeparti are known for their belief in that Denmark should be for Danes only and other "enlightened humanistic views" (*shivers*). Well, if they want to be consequent, I wonder whether I in the future will be allowed to organise any international conferences in Denmark. After all, that includes letting "foreigners" into the country too....

ZOO Tycoon. Since I liked the croc game, I suppose I'd like this too ;) (run a zoo, make animals happy kinda thing).

The Trygroup at www.willing-to-try.com has as a little puzzling animated "game" which tries to teach us how we can approach things from many different perspectivs. They develop software for teaching.

I was interviewed long time ago for the Danish webmag Forum which focuses on issues of gender, feminism and female researchers. The interview is finally, after additional discussions with the journalist, online in their november issue:
Troldkvinden fra MOOs ("The Wizardess from the MOOs", in Danish only).
It has been a very interesting experience working with the journalist, who knew very little about this field of research. This is not meant in any down-putting way, rather it has been a fruitful challenge to try to describe my research ideas and problems to a layman. I think she has done a good job trying to convey her understanding to her readers.

To readers who have landed here by way of the link on the Forum page: velkommen til min blogg :)

Techno-femme rules, OK!

New kid on the Blogg. Shouldn't forget to mention that Anja Rau has started a blogg too! Flickwerk, fuelled by recent discussions of her review of a piece of digital literature (These Waves of Girls by Caitlin Fisher). Nice to have a discussion going and still amazing to me, that such a relatively low-tech tool as the blogg can prove so valuable to the research community - my sense of it, at least :))

"Which from them became, we are probably never experienced" so "Which for a history! Absurdly and ridiculously, not truely?", some of the marvelous one-liners in a German article translated into English by Google on the interesting subject "Of salad cucumbers, asparagus and radishes" (Von Salatgurken, Spargel und Radieschen). Mind you, it is _not_ about vegetables ;).

Women in gaming.
Things are happening in Sweden. In connection with the Interactive Institute, they are setting up a game research studio, and Emma Westcott, who was the woman behind Douglas Adam's Starship Titanic is joining them. She is working with Alex Mayhew (who did Ceremony of Innoncence which I "played" recently and really liked, not as a game but for the beautiful interactive graphic postcards and the good voice-acting) on a project called Dreamer, a "serialised interactive fiction" whose premise is that you, in the shape of raw energy try to help a male char who are trapped in his dreams, to get rid of his demons by inhabiting various characters he meets in the dream (including wasps!!!). Sounds as an interesting concept.

Anyway, The Game and game development studio, which also hosts Craig Lindley, opened in Gotborg, Visby on November 7th according to the blurpon the interactive institutes site (in swedish only).

And now back to the reason of the title of this post: all this came by way of a look into the archives of The Woman in Game Development Committee at IGDA - The International Game Developers Association.

By way of IGDA I found a series/site called Chicks who make games at The Gamediva-section at US comp Thrustmaster where they interview woman game developers on their work. First one is Megan Gaiser of Her Interactive which produces Nancy Drew Mystery Games (have to check out those) - she has this interesting answer to one of the questions posed to her:

Q: Do you think the video game industry is directed more at men then women? Do you see that trend continuing or do you see it changing?

A: Most of the games on the shelf are designed by men for men, because of the prevailing industry myth that girls/women don’t play games. I’m not saying that guys like one kind of game, and girls like another, and I don’t advocate the creation of “girl games” in pink boxes.

I do think there can be more types of games to choose from, including games that rely more on storyline and characters and less on action. Our research shows that this type of game appeals to girls more than the shooters do - they’re the chick flicks of the gaming world. Women also make up a big percentage of The Sims installed base.

As more choices appear that appeal to a broader spectrum of women and girls, we believe the girls game market will grow in the same way that girls college sports did after Title IX. There was a time when the standard belief was that "girls don’t like sports." As soon as girls’ sports received equal emphasis and funding, boom-it turns out that girls LOVE sports, and female sports has become a huge industry. This kind of segmentation is part of any maturing industry.

Telemarketers vs Taliban - I believe in this secret weapon ;)

The story of the misuse of the word interactive continues. Here are the nominees for "The Best of European Interactive Content". There are 3 categories: Newssites, "Best European Interactive content" and Jury's Special price. The Danish news sitePolitiken.dk is among the news site nominees, the Norwegian news site Aftenposten.no is nominated for best interactive content.. Under categories they post these criteria for interaction:

- Is interaction between users and the site stimulated? Are message boards, email forms available?
- Can a user contact the staff of the site directly? Is there a possibility to phone/fax?
- Can users interact with other users? Via message boards and/or mailing lists?
- Does the site provide newsletters? Can users react to these newsletters? Are these reactions published?

Seems to me like they are here rather talking about communication than interaction?

More Political Games...Flash games has hit the Danish Election it appears. Socialistisk Folkeparti (Socialist Peoples Party) Youth section online started with Mudderkast (Mud Throw), Socialdemokratisk Ungdom (Social Democrats Youth Party aka SDU) contributed with Borgerlig Buster (Bourgeois Buster) and Venstre (Left - which is actually quite right of the middle of politics) answered with TerminAtor (A is the letter that denotes the Social Democrats on the voting lists). De Radikale (The Radical Party - which is pretty much in the middle of Danish Politics) has not made a game, but has put our Minister of Finance's purse on a webauction! And the DSUs strikes again with VenstreVision, a moch Venstre page with a fake 404. Wonder if all these efforts will actually result in more young Danes getting up from the computers and making it down to the election sites?
P.S. (for Danes mostly): Check out if your povs actually still fit with the party you are voting for at http://www.jp.dk/valg/2001/kompas.htm

EdGames - collaborative blogg on Games and Learning. Here the colloborative postings seem to function well, the blogg has been running since August 2000 and I count more than 10 contributors.

Anja Rau has written a critique of Caitlin Fisher's ELO award winner These waves of girls. Bernstein and Jill comments on it too. Definitely Anja's review which has many good points raises important questions as to what the criteria with which we judge a piece of digital literature should be. Is the writer a bad writer, because he or she is a bad programmer or designer? And if she is a natural born bad programmer should the writer then one way or the other feel morally obliged to hire staff which can do the slick Flash graphics and the eloquent java scripts? Should we read the webs produced by writers with the same critic eyes as the webcritic which makes a living of improving and designing commercial websites?

I personally am not quite sure: I do not come to a book expecting it to have the same happy graphic aesthetics or mode of layout as the shop ads which were just delivered to my mailbox. Nor do I expect my book to look like an information leaflet nor my web literature to cater to the latest web design trends. Sometimes it appears to me that people falls in the trap of judging web fiction with the eyes of a Jacob Nielsen or other more recent webdesign critics. They want sites to be easy downloadable and naviagable, user friendly, bugless etc. And sure, I would like to see some consistency of navigation paradigms and correction of easy-correctable bugs like the missing title of the documents in Caitlin Fisher's work too - and definitely she should have fixed the sound-bites which doesn't work and the plug-ins needed should have been stated etc. But - and it is difficult not to - to make another comparison to print fiction, I quite often come across good novels which starts excruciatingly slowly and builds up their characters, the novel world, the plot etc in such a laidback pace that I am constantly on the verge of putting down the book for pure boredom. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't and I am awarded with what in the last end turns out to be a very good read. That is to say the overall experience of it's contents almost obliterates what I find faulty in the parts of its specific form (yes, you may well acuse me of being a good old-fashioned hermeneutic). Obviously the question is whether it is as easy to seperate form and content when you look at a webliterary work. If download is slow and the pages "doesn't look good", does it then disturb and distort my understanding of what the writer is trying to relate? Personally, and here we are perhaps stranded with a judgement based on taste rather than formal critism, minor bugs does not "bug" me, when I read for instance These waves of girls. I have not read that many lesbian biographies before and to me the stories she tells are interesting and seem to fit well with the media, she has chosen. Yes, she is still struggling with the materiality of the medium she has chosen and with trying to make it fit her needs, but I haven't actually seen that many webliteary works with near perfect technial perfection yet. Should they have waited with presenting the ELO award till the flawless work came into being? (yes, they could have chosen other more innovative works like Moultrup's for sure, but that is another issue...). One thing is not to like the subject and the style of presentation of Caitlin Fishers, but I do not think it is fair to attack her for not being a good programmer. What the web writers need are better tools, not necessarily more people to work with them or hard core programming courses. Give them web editing programs which can link text, sound and images together on the writer's behalf without forcing them to learn java programming in order to do anything which looks smooth.

Quote from an interview with Jessica Mulligan a year ago at rpgvault about the future of online persistent world gaming:

Jonric: Do you believe the audience for online worlds will grow quickly enough to support all the games that are being developed?

Jessica Mulligan: The reason there are only about 700,000 paid subscribers today is the hardcore nature of the games offered. There is already a much larger market for persistent worlds than those subscriber numbers would indicate. Based on my experience over the last 14 years, of the number of people in the total subscriber base who will play a persistent world, there are at least six million potential subscribers worldwide today. Over the next ten years, I suspect the number of potential persistent world gamers will rise to about 60 million; at today's $10 per month pricing, that's a potential of over $7 billion annually in subscriber fees alone.

Jonric: What are the major factors that will drive market expansion to the kinds of numbers you just noted?

Jessica Mulligan: The main factors that will drive more people to trying and sticking with persistent worlds will be ease of use, more persistent worlds actually designed with the player in mind and that don't require a 20 hour a week commitment to play, opening persistent world game design to be more inclusive of the casual and mass market gamer and taking full advantage of emerging technologies in voice communications and the wireless connection. (my emphasis)

Gamer's nationality and gaming. An interesting little interview with Jake Song, principal creator of Lineage - The Bloodpledge, in which he talks about the difference between US and Korean games and gamers.

Torill wisely suggested that the reason why this site have been visited by us.gov and us.mil might have been because I have been registered in the us.gov september11.archive.orgwhich now holds more than 114.000 webpages. I just went there to look, tried checking my URL, my Blogg title, various keywords from the blogg posts in which I commented on September 11th happenings. No results or referrals to this page came up, so I do not think I am listed there. - Well, whatever the exact reason why these particular domains have visited my homepage, I am more puzzled than real paranoid about it...I think. The fact remains, that by uploading my words to a public domain server, I have willingly subjected them to the scrutiny of whomever in the world happens to visit this site, may they like what I write or not. At the end of the day: as long as my visitors and I in principle remain mutually visible to each other, who can tell precisely who is watching who...

For my Danish and other out-of-Norway readers. Bergen in snow, temp +1c, wind -5 c

From cam on Fløyen, one of the mountains overlooking Bergen city

Bergen Airport at Flesland, not so far from Fyllingsdalen where I live

Conference follow-up II.
Gonzalo Frasca is writing about May Payne, the game, these days. It reminds me of the most absurd experience I had while at Finnish conference. They had an computerised practices exhibition, where 2 guys were presenting May Payne - in Finnish. Their presentation was translated on the spot into sign language by a sign language interpreter, and what she did made perfect sense I guess (could I but have understood sign language at least!) until they played the Max Payne game trailer and she apparently started "translating" all the gun noises and explosions accompanying the trailer into sign language too. Wonder if it makes any sense (in the "fun" way) to play a game like this if you are completely deaf? I guess it does in some ways, but the experience made me speculate on exactly how important sound is to the experience of games like that. And how completely unable you are to make sense of the world, if you do not understand any of the languages that surround you, be it verbal or visual.

Mobile Denmark. As if aware of my previous post on mobile culture, Politiken informs me that if development continues as expected, there will be more Danes with a mobile phone than an physical address phone subscription on December 7th this year. Which is 3,91 mill Danes out of the 5.330.020 mill people (2000) which lives in Denmark...or something like 73%.

Big Brother watching me? Something completely different - and also a little bit scary. I am keeping track of the visitors to my blogg and their domaine origins etc through the use of a service called TheCounter.com. Since September 11th (and I know for sure it is after this date), this page has been visited 6 times by the US Government (.gov) and 3 times by the US Department of Defense (.mil). Being a bit paranoid, it is easy to imagine that these institutions actually have employed both humans and machines to check out all websites containing various "suspicious" keywords. Wonder what on this page counts as such....Have you checked who visited _your_ site recently?

Conference follow-up.
OK, finally back from Finland and the conference Interactive Man and His Future. And it's snowing in Bergen - the scenery is breathtaking beautiful and clean and stands out even more intruiging to my Danish city-scape accustomed eyes. I never get to watch this pure white landscape in traffic-infected Copenhagen....

I had expected to be able to blogg from the conference, but it turned out that they had only one computer onsite with a functioning internet connection - somewhere in a corner of a cafe in the same building as the conference. And I did not find it before late on the day the conference ended. - Obviously one asks oneself why an conference like this does not provide it's users with internet access? Well, in this case, the answer is simple: it is not because of bad planning, but because almost all attendees were Finnish and hence had a Nokia Communicator ;). They simply dont need clumsy, old, stationary computers to access the internet anymore...and it was striking to take a look over the conference audience: there were dozens of PDAs, mobile phones and Communicator owners amongst them and people had no qualms as to use them to communicate with people outside the conference, if the paper presented was boring.

Also the conference itself turned out to be very much themed around mobile phones and devices. Mobile phone use, mobile phone culture (example: "Mobile phone in social urban life"), mobile phones and children, and not the least, the latest buzzwood (e- is soo dead!) : mobile learning (soon to be known as m-learning?). So I now know that more than 80% of the Finnish population owns a mobile phone and that children down to the age of 4-5 years are given one, too - though they hardly know how to use it and are known to mistake if for a toy:). Teenage girls from Germany send 7 sms's a day, but boys only 5, etc etc.-

A presenter from Sonera, the national tele communications compagny, had one very interesting point on the Finnish "mobile culture": he thought that this widespread use of mobile phones were actually supporting the Finnish culture of silence! For instance, people dont have to talk to each other on the phone, they can just sms and they can see who is calling and just refuse to talk to them by pretending they cannot get to the mobile phone. And of course, mobile phones are switched to the silent mode most of the time, so you wont disturb any other people with the noise from the phones. Instead you will just see the odd Finn pulling out his mobile phone from his jacket ever so often to see if he got any messages...(last thing my own observation, I have been spending the last 5 days with an addict like that!). Furthermore, I personally think that this widespread use of mobile phones is also creating a somewhat anti-social culture: being in the physical compagny of some Finns, you will often find that they spend time sms'ing with friends or reading messages on their phone, disregarding the on-site social situation they are in fact part of in that very moment. I dont think this "anti-social" behaviour is restricted to Finns only (Im guilty of it myself sometimes, I admit), but it seems to me that "communicating out-of-social-context" is more socially acceptable than in other more "talkative" countries, where not taking part in the current communication is seen as a social flaw. While is my impression, it need not necessarily be so in Finland.

In general, it will be interesting to see how our mobile culture further develops. Will all the mobile phone using countries end up being inhabited by people who never concentrate on the people they are with in the now, but rather focus on the communication with people (and information) "elsewhere"? Will we actually be speaking less with each other "on site" and more with each other from a long distance? Will this mobile culture, as one speaker hinted, in the end render os more im-mobile due to the constant presents of gadgets, which makes us always be "at home", available to everybody and with the "homely" information always present at the tips of your fingers? What will happen if we can always find precise information about the place we are at? Will that mean that all the world becomes "familiar" to us and the use of imagination simply disappears?

Tomorrow I am leaving for Finland to participate in the conference Interactive Man and his future, part of the Mindtrek festival in Tampere. I hope to be blogging from there Wednesday and Thursday. If I cant find a computer, you might have to wait till next monday, before the blogg is updated...

OK, so what has Animal Planet to do with my research project? Or perhaps, rather, how can I legitimize spending time watching tv, since my subject area is stuff on the internet and since it is seems absolutely non-comme-il-faut to some members of the cybertext establishment to look at old media to understand the new? (well, last one is a teaser, as I believe none of us sees things this black-and-whitish in practice...).
Well, most Animal Planet documentaries often tell a story about a certain animal or a certain environment in which various animals live. So rather than having the traditional protagonist - antagonist story (if, it is a subnarrative), these stories are themed around the happenings in a micro-world or a certain species or member of this species. In this sense, they are not that different from "stories" about virtual environments, focusing either on the environment as such or certain "races" (monsters, humans, elves) or types of gamers within them...
But how do you tell an interesting story about a world, where in fact, nothing much, happens? Or at least, dramatic things, happen infrequently (most people just get a pet, live happily ever after, and then it dies). What strikes me as one solution, is the abundant use of the "parallel narratives" editing. You will start one small story (eagle is ill but of what), cut to another small story (whale is being saved), a third (horse in operating theatre) and then back and forth, so suspension last all way through, and all the endings comes in "part 2" of the programme. Another trick is the stricking visuals. You will have a programme on for instance the coral reef and it will be filled with very small stories about amazingly patterned fish and other weird-looking creatures that lives in on the reef - all in breathtaking under-water technicolor. A third device is the antropomorphic framing. The narrator will cue you into imaging that animal z (the wolf) has emotions like a human and you will interpret the pictures you see in this framework (wolf is happy, wolf is scared, wolf cunningly avoids capture by smart thinking etc) and therefore be more engaged in the story, because you project human feelings onto the "human-like" antagonist. A fourth device is the "The passage of time" itself; it seems to be an narrative overlay in several stories. Life at a creek from spring till spring, the coming of age of the lion cubs etc.
I wonder if you can use the Animal Planet techniques as a "story technique" in a virtual world or if some are already using them? Would one be able to construct something akin to a "scenes on a turning wheel" so you as a visitor would be transported back and forth between, say, 4-5 places in the world where micro-events took place. And then (unlike tv) at some point you could decide to take part in one of them and the cycle would stop? Obviously, game world designers already makes stories about races and makes that the part of the overall "world legend" and perhaps enforcing people to explore their own "race" history and to develop it could engage them even more sometimes? Could you imagine a world in which time was designed so as to pass so fast that in one visit you would be able to live a life from beginning to death - or at least, youth, adulthood, old age in big leaps? Could you design a world experience which was not as much about causal chains of events but more about experiencing the world as a "stunning visual", with you being prompted to follow the movements of one of the creatures inhabiting it - or becoming one yourself and communicating with others through shifts in shapes and colours? Or could you imagine, giving people "interpretative glasses" which would make them see all events in a world as being supernatural? evil? wolfish?? Sometime there are lots of inspiration to get from "old media" when thinking about "new world" design - perhaps even more, if we look other places than the traditional. Forget about Hamlet, go watch some documentaries ;)

I have been watching a lot of Animal Planet TV this weekend courtesy of Hilde's cable tv. I have developed this morbid fascination with the ways the people which creates programmes for Animal Planet seem to be able to make narratives and little stories out of miniscule happenings, absolutely anything in the animal world, like a kitten that has broken its leg etc. I want to write more about this, but honestly I am too tired. Because what happened was I took a look at their homepage and came across the flash game Crocgame and I have been playing it ever since...

Another political game? The Danish Political Party SF (Socialistic People Party) has designed a "political" game for their young users online, in connection with the upcoming election. Basic idea is to throw mud and eggs at other politicians and duck for their shots. Your character is a pig ("den indre svinehund"??). Game as real life?

A list of the BAFTA price winners - the games and websites categories. Black & White wins the price for "best interactitivity". Their motivation goes like this:
Lionhead have created a maddeningly obsessive experience which achieves intellectual and emotional immersion by seamlessly entwining sophisticated gameplay with a narrative laced with a characteristically wicked sense of humour.
- which as far as I can see, comes no way near actually defining what good interactivity is. Is it that is enables immersion? Or combines gameplay and narrative? How exactly does the specific "interactivity" of B&W do that? Could have been interesting with a longer explanation.

May Payne was elected as the best PC game. The Finns beat the Danes in the end! (i.e.Max Payne vs Hitman) perhaps because Hitman had no Hong-Kong movie slow-mo features.