At today’s meeting we talked about the introduction of voice briefly, and then focused on the pilot ‘couples’ interview from Sunday night.

We discussed ‘next steps’ while referring to the chatlog of the interview, and the list of questions (please see the earlier post ‘pilot interview’ for more information)

The questions (and the answers) can be bundled into a set of themes pertaining to management (of real life relationship, real space, game space and game structures) that would include phenomena associated with:

Mode: Asking the players about Battlefields or bickering, to map when it is that they switch from ‘in world’ to ‘real world’ chat, and what will trigger such a switch – these are a couple who play sitting in the same room.

Time: Time spent in world, duration, ‘time together’/quality of time), ‘policies’ about time playing (agreements, negotiations about ‘reasonable amounts of play’)

Space: Sitting together in real space, playing in shared space or playing on different areas/servers.

Role in relation to each other
Role in relation to (shared or contested) notions of expertise
Role and the scope for negotiation/renogotiation of role
Role in terms of pragmatic/facilitating roles (and implied, relative expertise)
For instance, we talked about this last role in the interview by asking about the ‘follow’ mode, which is when one character temporarily takes a driver/navigator role, and the other takes a passenger role.

We also looked at the interviewees’ management of ‘alt characters’ as a distributed system, where each ‘alt as node’ carries/affords/enables a particular kind of engagement for that user.

We are interested in the management of each of these (mode, time, space, role) in relation to the games’ structures, and in terms of the contexts of play (a domestic, shared space). For us, this involves (again – see also the game diary, and the posts on accessibility, for example) the idea of conventions, and the establishing and exercising of conventions.

The advantage of the notion of conventions is that it is clear that we are talking about something constructed, emergent, contextual, where there is a degree of agency, and where coherence or legitimacy is socially/peer determined.

We then discussed running a parallel inquiry into how these issues are managed within guilds. We are not necessarily considering a review of ‘what people do’ so much as an investigation into the manner in which guild members’ self-invent/self-represent, distribute and manage conventions relating to:

Role (spectrum of roles, from noob to leader to mentor, flexibility or role, promotion/demotion)
Obligation, duty and status
Duty (vocation, commitment)
Resource management
Social responsibility (answerability, kinship)

Because we are interested in the contextual construction of these conventions, we are thinking that forum analysis would be more appropriate than interviews.

We are also working on a draft of a letter inviting ‘resident narratives’ – asking people who have become regular users to describe the journal/milestones/significant events on the journey from noob to resident. This follows on from our discussion about the SL pain barrier – see the last project meeting, and the long game diary page for more background.

Meeting timetable:
(Wednesdays at 11)

Project meeting notes