Monday, December 03, 2007

Aalborg University — ComITop and Dreamgames Network

On Thursday Nov 29th, as an invited speaker at a half-day workshop at the ComlTop and Dreamgames Network, I enjoyed meeting Betty Li Meldgaard's colleagues at InDiMedia at Aalborg University. The theme for the day was business development, computer games and communities.

The first speaker was Malene Charlotte Larsen, PhD candidate at the E-learning lab at Aalborg University. She talked about how young teenagers use the popular Danish social networking site, and discussed the moral panic created and maintained by the media, influencing parents to question the computer habits of their children. She had noticed that teenagers in general are far more cautious than media gives them credit for, and also far more suspicious of "fakers" (users that have created fake profiles/personas).

I was the second speaker and I focused on the creation of avatars and space in Second Life and how it is shaped by expectations/rules stemming from either Linden Lab or other groups/communities. My main point is that the underlying ideology of Second Life is market oriented and that content production and land ownership is encouraged for that reason. Quite a few avatars and spaces are also created in line with that idea, but there are also many examples of spaces and avatars that do not embrace that approach, exemplified by communities like the "Independent Republic of Caledon" and role-playing groups such as Star Wars and Gorean communities.

Icelandic Thor Gunnarsson, Vice President of Business Development at CCP Games, the creators of EVE Online, continued after the break and talked about all the new features they are implementing in the game. Graphics are being entirely re-made and the movies he showed were truly amazing. One of the new features is customizable avatars and the highlight on spaceport social spaces. They hope to encourage more women to play EVE Online, since the percentage is quite small at present.

The day ended with a "Master Class" where three students presented their projects, attempts to creating business plans. It was interesting to see their creativity.

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