Mods, mods everywhere

One of the things that has irritated me in the past few weeks on reading about mods is that a lot of the articles and chapters and papers:

  1. Mostly use the term ‘mods’ to mean anything that a user creates for a game (occasionally add-ons) but they:
  2. Don’t distinguish between different types of mods/CC
  3. Don’t refer to how games and communities use different words to mean different types of changes
  4. Don’t generally discuss how developers and players themselves have a complicated view of modding behaviours (Consalvo is an exception to this).

Even though I want to focus on a specific type of user created content, I feel it is very important to make these sorts of distinctions since I’m struggling to find it already done elsewhere. This stuff may seem obvious to you, fair enough, but that’s because of your insider knowledge. That is sort of half the point of cultural or sociological research – to look at the stuff someone may think is obvious or takes for granted so much that they’d don’t even question it.

FYI: I’m also referring only to computer gaming. I don’t really play consoles and have little idea of how mods work on there.

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Okay, not a mod, but I laughed XD

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Gaming, playing, and methodology

whatsOne of my biggest pet peeves in reading gaming studies is when studies seem to patronise gamers, which can happen in various ways such as the researcher not even playing the games (or mentioning that they have ANY experience with games) or not allowing the player to speak for themselves.

Just for some context: my main area of study is around immersion and identification. I should also mention I use qualitative methods, not quantitative, so if you are a researcher reading this, going ‘WTF she on about?’ feel free to leave a comment about how it works in your discipline. Always happy to learn!

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Mount & Blade: Warband Part Two

Hello! And welcome to another exciting adventure of …. me trying to work out how to use methodology. When we last saw our hero, I was trying to organise my ethics application which is now (finally!) about to be submitted and I can get onto my literature review and methodology chapter.

While some methodology I’m using is pretty easy, auto-ethnography, fan studies/cyberethnography (think, reading forums or blog posts where fan discussions are had), what I’m doing with these videos is really taking from a few different styles of other ethnographies and trying to apply them to video games. Usually, these are things like “walking with” or “tour videos”, but applying them into a game context can be difficult for a variety of reasons.

The reason why I’m doing this in a weird and new manner is because I feel that some of the stuff I have read so far give very little agency to the focus of the study: the gamer themselves. For example, think of a multiple choice personality test. You’ll get questions where you aren’t sure whether you better fit one or two, or even more, of the answers available, but you can only pick one even though it is not quite right. This is so not my style. Instead, my research will be guided by gamers themselves and what they choose to say or show. It is about the gamer FULLY choosing how to represent themselves, not being some pawn. They create their own context.

And with that rant out of the way, here is Part Two wherein my friend (who I nicknamed Paladin) films his gameplay of one of his save games.

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Mount and Blade: Warband Part One

I’m trying to work out my ethics application at the moment, so I thought I’d test my instructions on one of my friends. Yes, he’d be biased; no, I’m not using it for the main study. I just wanted to see what sort of video he would create based on the instructions I gave him, and what information I could gather from it.

In this, I’m going to call him Paladin, and Paladin chose to play Mount and Blade: Warband. While he recorded two videos for me on this game, he played different avatars in each one, so this blog post will be on the first video only that went for 10 minutes (the first video is to show the character creation and introduction to the game, where the second video is showing gameplay of his most recent save file). In this video, his avatar was Shizuka.

I’ve not played Mount and Blade before, so any vagueness about the description of game play is because I’m limited by this one source. Screenshots are watermarked across the top with a web address due to the free recording software used.

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Embodying the Avatar: Experiences in WoW

In my search for a good methodology, I’m trying out different techniques of gathering information. Some theory, some gathering player responses, some visual analysis. This one is some interviewing. I interviewed two friends, one over skype, the other through Facebook messaging, about how they relate to their avatars and experiences in WoW. The first one was entirely unstructured, I just kept asking questions. From what I asked them, I narrowed down the main topics of conversation and the second interview on FB was more semi-structured. For sake of convenience, let’s call the friend on Skype Grumpy Gills and the friend on FB Goat Herder.

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Agents, avatars, bodies and evolution, OH MY!

For the current expansion of World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, the dev team decided that the character graphics needed a bit of an upgrade. There had been a lot of innovation and progression in graphics in the past ten years since WoW originally hit the shelves. They took on this incredibly daunting task with one idea in mind, to keep the “spirit” of the original:

With the revamp, we’re completely overhauling every aspect of the player models, but our goal is to do so while retaining the core look and feel that has always made them your character. We’ll feel like we’ve succeeded if you see the updated version of your character and it still feels like you’re looking at the character you’ve been playing for the past however many years—only someone has finally focused a lens. ~ Chris Robinson, Artcraft – A First Look

Now I was hugely invested in this change. I take so long to decide on a look for my avatar, not to mention the time invested in her (them – I’m an altoholic), their transmog, their general attitude and what titles and non-combat pets suit them best (no, I’m not on a roleplay server 😛 yes, I still consider all this anyway). For some classes, even their spec is taken into consideration when deciding on these things. leia

My Frost/Arcane mage in her Leia outfit … not sold on the staff mog or the belt, but when I get time to play I’ll look at getting more matchy ones!

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