This weekend I’m finally going to learn some DV video editing. I suppose some skills are just required media literacy, this day, and/or future. Don’t know, really. Desire to know is a curious thing. We have discussed a lot “personality types” and “motivations” lately, and I just realised that I’m that sort of person who wants to see the bitrate while seeing a movie, or what was the aperture while looking at photos…
This was a curious day, November 30th. We had a deadline of a book project focusing on children’s view and experience of media and information society very early in the morning (and we came in an hour early with Laura for that, sigh…) There will be two book chapters on games research from us there, I am part of the editorial board also. Then there were an overlapping period of project meetings, I was told that someone had stolen the videoconferencing equipment and data projector from our meeting room, and I was trying to sort out some of the submissions going into the DiGRA 2005 conference from our GameLab. On the way home, I dropped in to the post office to pick up a copy of the hefty tome of “Encyclopedia of Play” (Leikin Pikkujattilainen, WSOY), which contains my brief piece on digital play, games and game studies. Nice quality, as a physical object, that book; even if the contents are somewhat heterogeneous, to say the least.
Now it is well past the midnight, the last submissions are all in, I hope. Sipping some Casillero del Diablo (Syrah), I feel this weird mixture of gratification and uneasiness, that seems to be the spirit of our time, if there is such thing. It is like you can reach almost anything if you work hard enough for that, the stars are there, almost touching your outreaching fingertips. And simultaneously, there is the broken window, door that cannot be locked, the tower that is eternally under construction in that castle of achievement. No crown, only the public servant in a grey suit asking for an addendum into the annex of an application form that relates to some obscure process somewhere in the future past of this bureaucratic desert of the (un)real… Should be sleeping already, obviously. Cheers.
I have been mostly working lately; with c. 6 meetings, lectures or other items in the calendar per day it is hard to do anything else. But with the remaining little time, I have been thinking about fantasy. What it is? Why we need it? How is it related with what or who we are?
The little psychology, philosophy and neurology I’ve read seems to point to some possible answers. It might be that we are not actually inhabiting the world as it is, but rather as we dream it is. There is the 17th century play “Life Is a Dream” by the Spanish playwright Calderon: like Segismund, we are dreamers in our towers, doomed to find something durable among the multitudes of different perceptions and evaluations of our realities.
In my dreams there are elements like flying without wings, interplaying or mixing of identities, and dramas of stone, steel, sexuality and death, all staged in alternative, possible (or impossible) times, cultures, planets, or galaxies far, far away, as the saying goes. Playing the current generation of fantasy games, in contrast, rarely takes you into decidedly consistent fantasy universe of its own. There is the old game Planescape: Torment (Black Isle, 1999), and the world of new Half-Life 2 (Valve, 2004) is actually quite compelling, but I have not played it enough to say anything about the game itself.
This weekend’s free time is used up by the hundreds of short stories that I have to go through in order to find the annual winner of the Portti science fiction award. It is clear that fantasy is also much about the capability to balance the alien with the familiar, and about the skills of communicating one’s vision.
Last days have been busy but fun while starting new course, grading the old ones, meetings with all our projects, and building the new GameLab facilities. Pretty tired every night, when I finally fall into the bed.
At last I got the order fixed in my Japan-Korea travel photo folder: [see this link]. — The JAlbum that I use for building the album UI did not behave as it used, after I updated my systems into the XP Service Pack 2, but then again, it seems to be perfectly normal after that update.
One of the biggest sources of enjoyment last days, btw, has been the Walkie Talkie album by Air, that I have been listening while driving. I is really the soundtrack of Tokyo (cf. Lost in Translation). But it is also so much more. Less is more, really. Made me remember the days when I enjoyed Philip Glass.
Our Lab released the first course series to pilot game studies as online learning today. The phone has been ringing, and I have been busy (with my croaking voice, still in that summer flu) explaining various media people that yes, games are indeed researched, and that yes, there is need for education at this field, too. Later, while I was reading Jessica Mulligan’s Biting the Hand column series (1997-2003), I came across Raph Koster answering Jessica’s pro-entertainment piece with “The Case for Art“. There are other columns and discussions either openly or indirectly referring and linking in, and – rather than going to the debate itself – it got me thinking about the nature of column writing. This kind of blogs can be used, or perceived, as columns, too, but they can also be many other things. I enjoy reading several columns from traditional printed magazines, as well, but there is not similar kind of hypertextual openness in that medium. Some day, some way, I would like to be able to try and create a hybrid, a vehicle for truly polyphonic expression.
Today we finally delivered the PeTo project report to our university’s electronic library. There were some usual last minute troubles, though. PDF is a curious format with the double function of being designed primarily for screen use with its links and search functions, and yet almost everyone first prints these things to paper. We probably have to start making two different PDF files of every publication, and delivering the high-resolution one to the printing house — our lab should have a pilot project with digital print-on-demand contract with a local company soon enough. Sign of times. Living at the transition period means that you are doing everything twice, all the time.