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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Replayability /a true story/

If I had an Xbox...I would be playing this game!

And so it happened. Today at 07:49 weblogs hit the Danish TV-screens...

David Rokeby : Texts - a nice little collection of his writings. He has written some interesting stuff on interaction, mostly related to interactive art installations, but his points have relevance for other ia- works as well.

mixed-media-gallery, an art project using Atmosphere. They have made a Salvador Dali game in a small world where you have to run around turning cubes on before you can enter the Dali Gallery. Primitive, but a good pointer to what you can do with art/gaming in this kind of environment.

Interesting! Adobe is apparently developing their own 3D virtual world player. In beta now. Cyber3d is using it to develop 3D games...(not in beta yet). Running it via the web plugin sucks, I just discovered, but you can find the Adobe Atmosphere Stand alone Player here.

www.cyber3d.info - another virtual world content provider. UK based, just started.

virtual galileo - a mixed reality performance, involving on site performance in a tent in Sweden, alongside a performance in a virtual world on the internet. You can download the world browser and play along.
It happens this weekend and is produced by The Interactive Institute.

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans... [supposedly John Lennon]

Adrian Miles actually wrote a very good clarification on the actual virtual issue, which I found today. Thx, Adrian!
(should read A LOT of blogs more regularly, but time, time!)

Visitors mystery
A member of the staff here at ITU informed me that this site has made it to the top 30 of most visited sites at ITU, which puzzled me a bit. Checking out the ITU stats which are available on the internet revealed that the counts they have there of this site are MUCH higher than the ones my own counter shows. So someone is obviously wrong, but who? Unfortunately the stats person isnt in today, but I look forward to having the mystery solved. I dont like the idea of "secret" visitors somehow, though I shouldn't really bother.

And, btw, the person who referred me to the stats info, saids casually: "Of course I had to check your page out, and then I found out it was just this kind of Big Brother thing!". Guess that is also one pov on blogs.

Alexa Web Search - is linked with Amazon and provides reviews and traffic rankings for various websites. You can search your blog in it and see if it got any reviews, there are also reviews of websites of a number of organisations.

Via the EdGames blog:The Big List of RPG Plots

Here are the slides for today's presentation at the University of Copenhagen, the Computer Game Research Seminar.

A busy, but exciting weekend is ahead.
Tomorrow I will be participating in - and giving a talk at a seminar on Computer Game Research at University of Copenhagen.

Sunday evening, after spending the day preparing some chapters of my thesis for a soon-to-visit guest from abroad, I will have visitors from a distance learning class in Århus in StoryMOO, my local virtual world. I will be giving them a tour of the place and talking about creating narratives in virtual environments.

Theorizing Presence, an article by David Jacobson in latest issue of Journal of Virtual Environments, which in fact deals with ...the subject of immersion in text-based worlds, by the look of it.

Inhabited Digital Spaces - contains suggestion for evaluating criteria for virtual worlds (1996).

Interacting and Designing Virtual Worlds on the Internet companion site to Bruce Damer's book on avatars. Contains virtual worlds definition of sorts.

New Media at my old institute. Incredible! Finally, the Department of Comparative Literature at University of Copenhagen is running a course on "New Media & Digital Cultures". There is still hope.

Via Jesper, another interesting article in Gamasutra:"Implementing Stories in Massively Multiplayer Games".

Comparative Classification of Multi-User Virtual Worlds by Tony Manninen & Jani Pirkula (1998).

How to Survive Your PhD - it popped up again at Jill's today. She's been having an anxiety attack about finishing her thesis and I really understand her, being much in the same situation. I keep telling myself, what I tell the students whose Master's dissertation I supervise: you do not have to invent the wheel all over again, no one expects that of you. But of course you want to.

In Denmark, these three years of ph.d. work, is actually called the "Ph.D. education". We are supposed to take courses ourself, we are supposed to learn how to do research. In some sense, we are still at school, yet everyone is expecting us to behave like grown-ups and be very responsible about our own thing. It is a strange "coming of age" time, and I for one cant wait to get it over and done with. I think I know how to do research now, I know how to teach, and there is very few courses that would actually be able to teach me something new (in my own field, that is!), and perhaps most importantly: I know what to do to get on in the academic world. Honestly, right now, the value of the Ph.D. thesis to me mostly seems to be that it earns you a piece of paper, that will make it easier for you to get a job in the academic community. But like in RL (Real Life as in outside of university), when you apply for a job, and no one reads your Masters Dissertation when they examine your credentials, no one seems to actually need to read your Ph.D. thesis when you apply for a assistant professorship etc. They want to see articles, in the end, articles are what counts and the ph.d. thesis is just the bread underneath it all. So no need to butter it all up.

Actual - virtual, comment on yesterday's theory quote (explanation of sorts)
Deleuze in Cinema 2 is immensely obscure (as always?), but I think, he is eager to point out that at a minimum level you cannot make a sharp distinction btw actual and virtual. I want to use him to think about virtual worlds:
In virtual worlds, we are dealing both with a representation of reality and something that is reality in itself, because it does not point to something outside of itself (it is not "realistic" or a documentation of the real world), in a way just like the fiction film . Yet as soon as we have image - or language - we have representation, mediated "reality". What the virtual reality points to is "the world" itself, of which it is a part - it asks us to construct a universe by combining the parts we are presented with, in fact a kind of never accomplished hermeneutic circle of interpretation. This is an example of an image whose "nature is double", it is virtual and actual at the same time. The moment we interact in this represented reality, our actions are already moving into the past at the same time as we are constructing the future. It is not us, who cannot discern between what is real and what is not. It is in the nature of things themselves; they refuse to be either or. Neither Reality, nor just a representation of it.
Deleuze refers to Robbe-Grillet and Bergson, Robbe-Grillet and his idea of a nouveau roman. RG wants to let the objects speak for themselves and not be contamined by the human emotions attached to them. What he does is write and work in a constant process of construction and erasure: he describes the objects and then he erases them through a new and slightly different description of them. Out of this comes perhaps "narrative", the story of the man who describes the world. Bergson and his notion of duree, time not as cut up into chronological and measurable seconds, but time as a "strecthed" now, a constant movement from the past into the future. As when we listen to (classical) music: we can only understand it by combining the node we hear "now" with our memory of the nodes that came before. "Music" is what we experience in an anticipation of what is coming and an interpretation of what we have already heard. Is that similar to how we live a virtual world? Our experience of "worldliness" is a combination of what we have already actualised and what is yet to come, what is about to actualised and what will make new actualisations possible.

Today's clever theory quote
“The indiscernibility of the real and the imaginary, or of the present and the past, of the actual and the virtual, is definitely not produced in the head or in the mind, it is the objective characteristic of certain existing images which are by nature double. “
- Gilles Deleuze: Cinema 2 - The Time-Image, pp 69

This article looks interesting: "Avatarculture: Narrative, power and identity in virtual world environments" by Stephen Webb in the Information, Communication and Society Journal published by Routledge.

But it costs $17 to buy it online :(, great service, but quite a lot of money for something whose quality it is difficult to judge.

Some virtual world definitions:
A simulated environment that appears to have the characteristics of some other environment, and in which participants perceive themselves as interactive parts.
at http://www.atis.org/tg2k/_virtual_world.html (American National Standard for Telecommunications - Telecom Glossary 2000)

This is an area created on the computer which can be explored in three dimensions. The user navigates their way around with the use of the keyboard or mouse.
This found at Webwise, "The Internet made simple by BBC".

As Kalawsky93 explained, virtual environments (VE), also known as virtual reality, is a computer system that generates a three-dimensional graphical ambient known as virtual world, where the user experiences an effect called immersion (the sense of presence within the VE world), and he/she navigates through the virtual world and interacts with the graphical objects that reside within it, using special input/output devices.
This definition by someone working in the School of Cognitive and Computer Sciences.

Virtual reality: An artificial environment created with computer hardware and software and presented to the user in such a way that it appears and feels like a real environment. To "enter" a virtual reality, a user dons special gloves, earphones, and goggles, all of which receive their input from the computer system. In this way, at least three of the five senses are controlled by the computer. In addition to feeding sensory input to the user, the devices also monitor the user's actions. The goggles, for example, track how the eyes move and respond accordingly by sending new video input.
To date, virtual reality systems require extremely expensive hardware and software and are confined mostly to research laboratories.
The term virtual reality is sometimes used more generally to refer to any virtual world represented in a computer, even if it's just a text-based or graphical representation.

says the Internetnews.com Webopedia

Certain things are shared in common among all of the many inheritors of MUD1, and these things make up the core of what a mud is—and therefore, what a virtual world is today. These are:
1. A spatial representation of the virtual world

2. Avatar representation within the space

3. A sandbox to play in that offers persistence for some amount of the data represented within the virtual world

Anything that meets these criteria can profitably be called a mud for the sake of examining it and comparing features in the design to things that aren’t ashamed to use the term. And later
A mud is a spatially based depiction of a somewhat persistent virtual environment, which can be experienced by numerous participants at once, who are represented within the space by avatars.
This is found in the lexia "A Somewhat Strict Definition" at Raph Koster's website.

The software embodiment of the pseudo-collective object is a mediation tool based on a virtual world. This virtual world shares many of the defining characteristics of
Multiple User Domains (“MUDs,” Curtis 1992, Curtis & Nichols 1994), namely, that it is an interactive, multi-user, text-based virtual reality. The interactions among the users and the stable (or more-slowly-changing) organization of the surrounding environment create the “worldness” of the virtual world. The mediation tool differs from most other virtual worlds in a critical way, however. The typical virtual world is a simulated environment in which participants interact virtually, and independently of the external world. A simulation, that is, starts with seed values from the outside, and progresses of its own accord, executing its own internal logic. After some elapsed time, the observer can (if desired) compare the state of the simulation to possible states of the external world, and determine whether the simulation is an accurate model of the world. In the current case, however, the design of the virtual world (Zager 1999) is not a simulation. It is autopoietic (Maturana & Varela 1973) in nature, meaning that the virtual world stays structurally coupled to the world external to it, and hence the virtual world reflects changes to the state of the external world with commensurate changes to its own state.

as said by David Zager, Ph.D. in the article "Collaboration as an Activity - Coordinating with Pseudo-Collective Objects"

A nice metaphoric definition of virtual. And here you can search on virtual art projects.

I should not forget to link to Mark Bernstein's10 Tips on Writing the Living Web available at A List Apart.

Girls Just Want to Have Games, an article about the rise and fall of girl games. It discusses Her Interactive's Nancy Drew series at some length. I have tried playing one of their games, and liked it. "The Final Scene" is a well-made, pretty regular mystery adventure game with very little violence, which included the option of Nancy calling some of her girlfriends on the phone to get moral support, which to me was the most "girl-like" feature of the entire game. As the article points out in the end, perhaps girl games are not that different from boy games, in that it is the quality rather than the gender-bent theme of the plot which make you play them.

Alternate Realities Webzine. Hmmh. It is not about being high on drugs, but about alternative worlds. Looks mainly like a fiction site.

Douglas Rushkoff writer of both novels and literature on new media has a blog too. (Should have posted this long ago, but some of the many mails I got on blogs by professional writers were by mistake deleted) :(

overstated - is the blog of Cameron Marlow, a MIT Ph.D. student studying blogs. Creator of Blogdex, I think. And linking to Jill :). Cool.

Please note! Deadline for submissions for the Digital Arts and Culture::2003::Streaming Wor(l)ds conference is tomorrow, Sunday the 15th of September.

Now listening to:Duran Duran: The Chauffeur

Today, John Cayley, writer of programmable media, is visiting the IT University. He gave a very interesting talk on the relationship between code and text, making the point that in an abstract sense text has always been code in that we have to mentally process it, before we understand it. This understanding has to be re-applied to programmable code, which is intrinsically time-based (not spatial!), in that is takes time to process and uses time in its generating processes. Hence, we need a poetics of code (or an aesthetics of the machine), which looks at it, not as text or part of the text, but as something else, something we want, but dont want to get at or see, as something able to override the reading principles we ourselves bring to the text. - In a rough summary.

Some of my friends are....nerdy-ish sometimes. Here is a CFP from one of them to prove that you can perceive all forms of activities from an academic viewpoint, if you want to ;)


The Umpteenth Conference in a Copenhagen Swimming Pool
(UCCSP '02)

13-14. September 2002
Copenhagen Swimming Pool


The conference should give the participants an opportunity to relax their
intellectual resources through physical aquatic exercises, with an aim to
bring their minds to a higher level of swimming harmony.


Swimming gear, preferably including goggles, towel, shampoo (optional).


1: Arrival
2: Registration (location: ticket counter)
3: Clothes-stripping event (location: gender-specific changing-rooms)
4: Sanitizary workshop I (location: gender-specific under showers)
5: Main swimming conference (location: pool)
6: Sanitizary workshop II (location: under gender-specific showers)
7: Optional conference banquet (location: local café)
8: Conference closing remarks and departure


Spam-mail of the day:
Sender: Audible books
Subject: Your computer can READ

....I dont want to open it lest I be disappointed. I'm currently dreaming of asking my computer to read all the books and articles, I need to (re)look at the next couple of months.

Celebrity blog?
Even music icons have started to write a online diary. Read Moby who dreams of garlic rice.


Word doesn't work because the network printer doesn't!
It was the FAQ below that pointed me to the problem. Apparently, word always checks for the default printer as one of the first things, when it opens a document. If it cannot find the printer - or the driver for the printer locally - it crashes. I just tried removing the printer, and voila presto, had no problems opening my word files. But it's like opening a can of worms, it is not fun working with documents, when you cannot print them....The story continues. BRB.

Microsoft Word MVP FAQ....still havent fixed the problem.

How can you write a thesis, if your Word programme doesn't function?
Word 2000 Tips & Tricks looks like it has some neat tips for saving time, once you get the programme up and running, that is...

Gary Alan Fine (1989):. Mobilizing Fun: Provisioning Resources in Leisure Worlds.

Erving Goffman: A Bibliography. Did you know he actually wrote an essay called "Fun in Games"?

My Alter Ego with pants:
Meet Milagros, the character I am currently playing in EverQuest. One of the not so great design details of this world is that human-like female characters start out wearing hardly any clothes at all. So for several levels, I had to run around in the world displaying more or less all of my cute little butt to all players in site...I tried buying clothes pants (because they are cheap), but they turned out not to show visually on your character. Then I got a kind dwarf blacksmith to forge me some leggings, but they only covered the legs and behind partly. But, finally, now I just completed a class (Paladin) quest for pants which finally gave the visual representation of Milagros the appearance of a warrior, rather than that of a virtual version of Pamela Anderson as Baywatcher. Need I say it is much easier for me to get into a fighting group now?

Ducklover's Guide to Moving to Denmark, a new blog by a non-Dane living in Denmark and in that respect sibling blog to Two Years in Denmark and Dutch in Denmark. It's really fun to read about Danish culture with an newcomers eyes, all those things you take for granted as "natural", but which turns out to be very cultural indeed.
Which reminds me: did I ever tell about the time I went with a Spanish friend to a Danish theatre? It was the person's first experience with a live Danish performance, and she almost had a heartattack when after the play, people started clapping - in unison! For her it was another proof of the almost too well-regulated communal Danish behaviour, very different from the more random behaviour of a Spanish audience. Almost no need to say that I have been thinking twice about changing my clapping habits after this...

In her blog thinking with my fingers, Torill has some good links to Role-playing game history today.

Games as films
Last week, by chance, I came across and purchased a video called "Dungeons & Dragons", which claimed to based on the Dungeons and Dragons game (sic). I have yet to see it (though according to role-playing filmbuff friend it sucks). I have always been interested in adaptations, the transferral of a story in one media to another media, so I'm trying to collate a list of "games made into films" for a future article on the subject. What is it you actually adapt, when you make a game-film? It cant really be the plot or the story (since games are not narratives, huh), so rather it must be the universe - or virtual world...- or characters; problem being that finite game characters are usually quite flat and the game universe not really that interesting if you cant interact with it yourself. So the films made so far are not very good, IMHO, perhaps for this reason. But could one imagine an interesting game-film concept? I am sure there is bound to be more of them around as games become a more and more intrinsic part of everyday popular culture.

Here is the list, I have so far: do you know of any others?

List of film made from games:
Dungeons & Dragons, 2000 (game: Dungeons & Dragons series?)
Resident Evil, 2002 (Game: Resident Evil)
Tombraider, 2001 (Game: The Tombraider Series)
Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within, 2001 (Game: The Final Fantasy Series, 1-10??)
Tron (1982) (which according to this source is "the first fusion of game and movie, an arcade hit based on a film that was based on the video game phenomenon"). Tron 2.0 should be coming out in 2003!
Street Fighter, 1995 (based on arcade game)
Super Marios Bros., 1993 (based on the original gameboy ? games)

And State of Emergency, based on the PS2 should be in the making, according to some rumours.

There is a discussion about games to film here.

Living in the Blog-osphere - one of the more thorough, recent articles on bloggin. Via Frank.

McCoy's Guide to Theatre and Performance Studies - looks like a thorough guide to web resources in this area.

Tolkien computer games

A new and better version of the Danish Electrionic Research LibraryDEF is now online.

TheDigital Games Research Association DIGRA has now found a name and erected a website.
You can sign up on the mailinglist at the site too.

How to find geopgraphical location of a host, given its IP address

DNS Report

A new country...
Ladonia, proud, free and interactive! and situated between Denmark and Sweden, run by State Secretary Lars Vilks. Looks much like the other imaginary countries I have been looking at earlier.