Monday, September 29, 2008

Experiment Proposal

So I'm taking a class on Digital Game Studies, we dont have a syllabus but we do have a cool prof and the ability to do whatever experiments we want.

So here's the idea as I submitted it:

"I propose we pool our resources and assign a portion of the class (those interested in addiction, gamer sociology/demographics or escapism) to play an MMORPG together. This needs to be refined, but here are the main steps:

1. Form a team in an online game (Warhammer Online/Age of Conan) made up of class members and potentially other Dartmouth gamers.
a. Develop and test team dynamics through interaction (as suggested by Linden)
b. Hold various experiments in-game:
i. Anti-WAR protests or demonstrations
ii. Player vs. player raids
iii. Provide support for MMO Addiction in-game
iv. Gain contacts and profile them
v. Add to the game narrative
vi. Suggest improvements to publisher…

c. Record what happens (voice, audio, statistics, screen capture, digital video) and edit into either a:
i. Report with a message for the gaming community at large.
ii. Entertaining narrative (machinima perhaps, as Thomas suggested)
iii. Documentary analyzing what happens to the team as they become more and more involved with the game. Health deteriorating? Social changes? Addiction?
iv. All three, hosted on a website.

2. Questions/Goals
a. Do massively multiplayer online role-playing games have a negative impact on the individual over the long run? Is moderation attainable? What happens when people live in two realities at once?
b. Possible End Goal --> Propose an alternative, non-addictive digital experience, or suggest modifications to the existing ones.
c. (Far-flung) Perhaps report our findings to the group that is creating a game, help them create a psychologically beneficial experience

- We would need a room, and hardware. I think both are attainable. I also think corporate sponsorship/support a possibility, and could provide us with much-needed information (statistics)
- I have Age of Conan accounts (5 or 6 around level 60) that we could use, but the game is slowing down and hard to run on most computers. That said, studying the death of a digital world would be interesting. We don’t necessarily have to limit ourselves to one game."

So yea, if this happens, things are going to get pretty interesting. STAY TUNED TRUE BELIEVERS!

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