The Best Sentence of the Day

This blog is a cut-up of a dissertation in progress. Each day, I will post my favorite sentence that I have newly scribed. Everything out of context, but suggestive. I hope.

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Location: San Francisco, CA

I'm a game designer, a games researcher, and a future forecaster. I make games that give a damn. I study how games change lives. I spend a lot of my time figuring out how the games we play today shape our real-world future. And so I'm trying to make sure that a game developer wins a Nobel Prize by the year 2032. Learn more here in my bio or get my contact information on my contact page.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

New Best Sentence #4

Every piece of software, computer and telecommunications device used by players to interact with I Love Bees was a technology that could be put to use in real-world CI work.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New Best Sentence #3

This meant putting together a story that had been shattered into thousands of pieces.

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Best Sentence #2

The players received no further instructions.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

New Best Sentence #1

I'm working on an article for a volume on digital games and youth learning, which is part of a research initiative funded by the MacArthur foundation. Since I'm writing again, I thought I'd post a few new best sentences. :) I have to finish the article by next Friday (1 week!), so hopefully there won't be more than six new best sentences of the day!

The title of the article, by the way is this: Why I Love Bees: A Case Study in Collective Intelligence Gaming.


Will formal education need to include instruction and practice in how to construct and contribute to a collective intelligence?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Best Dissertation of the Day

I'm now posting chapters from my finished and filed dissertation here.

I'm posting them one at a time, like the chapters of a Dickens novel. Because I love serial storytelling, and because you will need to pace yourself as you work through the 573-page text.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The LAST Best Sentence of the Day

Okay folks.

Tonight, I wrote the last best sentence of the dissertation draft.

I have about one month before I file, during which there may be best revised sentences of the day-- so don't abandon me yet. :)

But still. What a relief. Nearly 600 pages of the epic dissertation on ubiquitous play and performance.

Here is my last best sentence of the day, which is actually a bunch of sentences but since it is the end, I shall rewrite the rules.


Indeed, I believe ubiquitous play and performance may best be theorized as a series of proliferating tools for reprogramming reality—for better, for worse, for all other kinds of different.

The title of this dissertation, This Might Be a Game, is meant in the end to evoke what I believe to be the fundamentally open classification system of ubiquitous play and performance. Ubiquitous computing infrastructure invites designers and programmers to reclassify myriad things as toys, spaces as playgrounds, and social contexts as gaming occasions. Pervasive gaming methods invite artists to reclassify public environments as game stages and spaces for collective expression. Ubiquitous gaming invites players to reclassify passive media as interactive, everyday noise as meaningful experience, closed spaces as open spaces, strangers as co-conspirators, real-world problems as real gaming opportunities—the potential reclassifications are as infinite as the gameplay is ubiquitous.

Rushkoff observes: “Renaissances afford us the ability to rethink and redesign our world using entirely new rule sets …. I’d place my renaissance bet on the gamers’ perspective: the very notion that our world is open source, and that reality itself is up for grabs. For, more than anyone else, a real gamer knows that we are the ones creating the rules” (421). Who will specify what objects, sites, spaces, and contexts will evoke and afford ludic interaction in the future? I would argue that it will be the game designers, the game players, and the game theorists, and only those engaged in this game will have the opportunity to participate in what ultimately amounts to an epic act of ubiquitous reclassification, a fundamental restructuring of the everyday interactive code.

I have worked in this dissertation to document the first five years of this extraordinary open sourcing of the material world. All open source efforts require massively-scaled collaboration; so too does this ubiquitous play and performance project. My hope is that this research reveals the remarkable scope and density of the ubiquitous gaming network to many who may not yet be fully aware of their own immersion in it—so that they too can rewrite the rules, defining and theorizing new future limits of digital play as we collectively come to specify more intimate nodes of connection between the game and our real-world lives.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Best Sentence #97

The strong sense of community forged through ubiquitous games, indeed, creates a sense of collective empowerment among the players. To what ends the players put their new sense of collective empowerment remains, as a matter of history, to be seen. However, by way of speculating about the future of the ubiquitous gaming network, I want to conclude this chapter by considering the ways in which the collective metaphors discussed here may ultimately give rise to further collective play outside the game.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Best Sentence #96

Each time the players meet up and perform their collective play in public, they demonstrate support for the view that real community requires a local and material foundation.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Best Sentence #95

Current research holds that the twin hallmarks of online community – mutuality, or the opportunity for two-way communication, and density, or the existence of enough internal connections that a majority of members know and interact with each other – are increasingly difficult to maintain past a certain growth point.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Best Sentence #94

Woot! Chapter 7 is finished. Time to fix Chapter 8!


This opening up of the puppet master system echoes both the explosion of grassroots alternate reality games and the demonstrated ability of ARG players to continue perceiving patterns of their games after the games have ended. These three trends represent a significant shift toward a massively collaborative co-production and reproduction of ludic affordances. Together, they describe the emergence of an open ubiquitous game network, through which players are empowered to create their own real little games and to develop their own more gameful reality.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Best Sentence #93

Okay, let's not get crazy. BUT. I predict that with Best Sentence #98, scheduled for Friday June 30, the entire and complete dissertation draft will. be. ... okay, I'm not doing to say it yet, but I think you know where I'm going. Check back on Friday to see if it really happens!


It is very much the idea that gaming is itself a superpower, one which is used only and always for good, that empowers the participants to play and perform in such radically ubiquitous ways, contexts and spaces.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Best Sentence #92

Some strangers do not want to trust; some objects remain intractably unresponsive no matter how much string or tape is applied; and some spaces refuse to make room for the players’ bodies.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Best Sentence #91

Reality-based superhero games view everyday life itself as fundamentally playful, and therefore they neither require nor desire a fictional basis for ludic interaction.

P.S. If you like taking a gaming approach to everyday life, and if you believe that meaningful social connections can be made through play, then read this book. It is the hilarious true account of one very funny British bloke who gamed his way around the world.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Best Sentence #90

To begin this inquiry into the consequences of ubiquitous games, I will explore in the next chapter the phenomenon of the persistence of gameplay vision, in which players struggle to discern if there is in fact a ludic signal in the noise of everyday life, or if instead they are reading only the reflection of their own projected desire for more game.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Best Sentence #89

Reality-based superhero games (RBSGs) share a simple premise: if people are given specific instructions on how to take a more adventurous attitude toward public places, they will surprise themselves—not only with their own daring, but also with how receptive strangers and non-players are to spontaneous interaction and ludic intervention.

P.S. Want to play such a game right now? Check out SFZero, which I highly recommend. Or come play Cruel 2B Kind in September in NYC!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Best Sentence #88

Do players experience a sense of mastery over their real-world environments after successfully completing a ubiquitous game?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Best Sentence #87

There is nothing inherently fantastic in receiving a fax.


Okay, don't get too excited. Yes, I've finished my dissertation abstract-- but no, I haven't yet completed the full draft. Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 are complete; Chapters 5 and 8 are 80% complete, and Chapter 7 is a huge pile of words I really, really need to clean up.

But that said, especially for those of you who have put up with, even embraced, my elusive, decontextualized best sentences... here is the abstract. Violalala!

This Might Be a Game examines the historical intersection of ubiquitous computing and multi-modal digital gaming, circa 2001 AD. Ubiquitous computing is the emerging field of computer science that seeks to augment everyday objects and physical environments with invisible and networked computing functionality. Multi-modal digital gaming describes our contemporary technological culture in which new media and novel technological platforms are adopted for play virtually as soon as they are invented. This dissertation argues that the parallel and often mutually reinforcing proliferations of embedded interactive platforms and pervasive gaming systems have produced a significant body of experimental game projects that radically reconfigure the formal, technical and social limits of play in relation to everyday life.

In order to mark the heterogeneity of this experimental design space at the turn of the twenty-first century, I propose three distinct categories of ubiquitous play and performance. They are ubiquitous computer gaming, in which academic research games are deployed to colonize new objects, environments, and users in the name of ubiquitous computing; pervasive gaming, in which spectacular art games aim to critique and to disrupt the social conventions of public spaces; and ubiquitous gaming, in which commercial, massively-multiplayer games work to materially replicate the interactive affordances of traditional digital games in the real world.

Using design statements, original gameplay media, and first-person player accounts, I explore the aesthetics and socio-technological visions of seminal games from each of these three categories, including Can You See Me Now? (Blast Theory and the Mixed Reality Lab, 2001); the Big Urban Game (The Design Institute and Playground, 2003); and The Beast (Microsoft, 2001), respectively. I focus in particular on the category of ubiquitous gaming, which of the three has produced to date the most scalable, reproducible and popular vision of a games-infused, everyday life.

My critical analysis of these games draws heavily on a close reading of seminal ubiquitous computing manifestos by Rich Gold, whose perspective as an artist and former toy developer yields an unusually performative and playful understanding of the phenomenological implications of invisible, embedded, and everywhere computer networks. I conclude by offering an analytical framework for the future study of ubiquitous play and performance that is based in the pre-digital games theory of Johann Huizinga, Roger Caillois, and Brian Sutton-Smith. With this framework, I argue that digital game designers and researchers must attend more carefully to the insights and agendas of philosophers, anthropologists and psychologists who historically have explored play as an embodied, social and consequential ritual, always already grounded in the practices of everyday life.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Best Sentence #86

No direct translation or explanation of the fictive programming language was ever provided; however, players soon discovered that it was possible to discern the meaning of specific lines of code through their observable impact on other characters and on the composition and functioning of the website itself.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Best Sentence #85

The massively multiplayer ornament is the aesthetic reflex of the collectivity to which ubiquitous computing aspires.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Best Sentence #84

Why, then, go to the trouble of employing a dissimulative aesthetic if it can be discredited so quickly?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Best Sentence #83

I woke up screaming last night. Yes, I had a dissertation panic attack. Kiyash slept right through it. But Meche climbed into bed and helpfully sat on my hand until I calmed down. When I finally got back to sleep, I dreamed I was rooming in some kind of a religious studies dorm in New York City with my twin sister Kelly.

The best sentence(s) below are a call-back to the IM I posted yesterday. I finally figured out what to say about Castells' cryptic closing remarks!


In The Rise of Network Society, Manuel Castells describes the coming culture of real virtuality as a world “where make believe is belief in the making” (375). In other words, persistent play may ultimately lead gamers to cease marking the difference between their habitual participation in sustaining an illusion and the practice of everyday life.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Best Sentence #82

A brief observation before my best sentence of today.

As I write a chapter on the so-called "dangerously" immersive qualities of alternate reality games, I am reminded of two of the opening messages of The Beast:

"Get out. Deep Water. You would drown."
"Get out. Dark Dream. You will not wake up."

I just want to say that I think perhaps the same warnings should be delivered to graduate students embarking on the dissertation writing process. It sometimes feels as if I am in a fog of text from which I will never wake up.


It was a decidedly dark introduction to the game, one that portended a potentially dangerous level of immersion through its imagery of deep sleep, water, and death.

The writing process

For your enjoyment, a transcript of an IM session with fellow games research Ian Bogost. Ian listens to me mope and apoplex about my dissertation pretty much every single day, and for longer than I've kept this blog. He deserves an award. I never take breaks, but I do get sanity boosts from my IM's with Ian.

avantgame: do you know manuel castell's work
ian: yes
avantgame: so i've been using it and i have this one final quote
avantgame: that i cna't figure out what he means
avantgame: it's very frustrating. it's the last sentence of a chapter, he just drops it in and doesn't explain it
avantgame: so I am trying to use it but i can't explain what he means!! aaaah "the culture of real virtuality, where make believe is belief in the making."
avantgame: i know what the first part means of course, but the last part I dont' know what crack he is smoking
avantgame: through his "this is not a crack pipe"
ian: hmm
ian: where make believe is belief in the making
avantgame: i know what Richard Schechner means when he says taht
avantgame: I know waht Umberto Eco means when he says that
avantgame: but Castells in particular.... augh
ian: yeah
ian: maybe he just needed a nice chapter end
avantgame: yeah probably :-)
ibogost: :-)
ibogost: sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Best Sentence #81

Okay, folks. A big bonus up to anyone who can guess who the "his" in the best sentence of today refers to.

Hint: It ain't Caillois, whose taxonomy by the way is a reactionary nightmare. Unless you enjoy super-sneaky controlling ideology masked as anthropological research, you know might want to think twice about uncritically adopting his terms paidia, ludus, ilinx, mimicry, agon, and alea.

His is the first game taxonomy designed as a practical and immediate intervention into the world of play.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Best Sentence #80

It's hard to believe, but a full, complete dissertation draft is just 1-2 weeks away from completion. Only 14 more best sentences at most! (I suppose then we'll start the "Best revision of the day" era of this blog.)

As I near a complete draft, which incidentally is looking to weigh in at about 400 pages, ai yai, I keep wanting to post more than a sentence. I'm ready to show more.

But I want to keep the formal aesthetic of the blog. So here, one sentence; you can always check the comments for context and elaboration.

If the thesis of Homo Ludens is that all of humanity’s great institutions and achievements have their roots in play and games, then its stakes are this: Huizinga’s growing concern that society worldwide is abandoning its play ethic.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Best Sentence #79

But how, in the medium of email, might one investigate white space?

P.S. I know the point of this blog is "out of context", but with so many first-time visitors and new readers, I thought a little context might be fun. So click on the comments for the full passage from which this sentence was snipped.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Best Sentence #78

My best sentences of today make a controversial claim; go ahead and debate me in the comments if you feel so inclined.

Everything can be gamed; there is no scenario that completely precludes play. It is simply a matter of being trained to perceive what is ludic about any given context or platform.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Best Sentence #77

Instead of a sentence today, I'll post the title of my new Chapter 6. I'm still finishing Chapter 5, but I realized 20+ pages of what I thought belonged in Chapter 5 actually needs to be pushed. So I opened up a new file and named it!


Dangerous Mimesis:
Simulation and Dissimulation in Ubiquitous Games

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I stand before you naked

Oh my. It is with great surprise that I awoke this morning to discover that this little introverted wisp of a blog is Blogger's Blog of Note for the day. I admit feeling overwhelmed and naked as many of you lay eyes on my experimental dissertation blog for the first time.

My other blog Avant Game, where I write for a more public audience about experimental game design and weird, emergent social network phenomena, was a Blog of Note last week, and that was a great experience. I loved meeting all the folk who wandered over from their own dashboards, and clicking back to all of their blogs as well.

But this blog is different. It's very... personal. Until today, the only people reading it, for the most part, were people who knew me.

I've been keeping this blog since I started racing toward an inflexible dissertation filing deadline. I'm a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley, where I am earning my degree in performance studies and where I am also a member of the alpha lab for engineering. I am writing about the intersection of digital games culture, ubiquitous computing, and urban social networks. It's a humanities dissertation, but I'm working with a lot of scientific and technical literature as well.

What you should know before you read any further: This blog is the online manifestation of the knot in my stomach that has been tightening over the last 6 months. It is the one moment of each day where I lift my head from my work and attempt to see the world for a few minutes. I am coughing up one sentence that means something to me--and probably means little to anyone else. That's scary. Because I know dissertation writing out of context often appears convoluted, or overly academic, or just plain awful.

This blog has helped me get up every single day, Sundays, holidays, and keep writing, even when it feels like a Sisyphusean task. I am writing roughly from 8 AM to 10 PM every single day. Later when I am facing a chapter deadline. I have filed 240 pages with my committee and will file the final 160 later this month, I hope. Although that will probably entail writing until 1 AM instead of 10 PM.

I have been keeping this blog through pneumonia, two broken ribs, taking a leave of absence from my job as a lead game designer, and more. It has helped.

So be kind as you look at my naked, decontextualized body of dissertation writing. I know these aren't the best sentences you've ever seen. They certainly aren't the best sentences I've ever written. For some of those, check out my published articles and design manifestos.


P.S. Here's best sentence #70-whatever-I'm-up-to:

All built environments, computer-augmented or not, are symbolically encoded, and therefore possess a virtual aspect.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Best Sentence #76

Kuhn describes paradigm shifts as “intellectually violent revolutions” (6). Accordingly, Weiser predicts that a take-no-prisoners approach to overthrowing the current computing regime will be necessary: “This will not be easy; very little of our current systems infrastructure will survive” (“Ubiquitous Computing” [9]).

Monday, June 05, 2006

Best Sentence #75

The Beast augmented symbols in the virtual environment with actionable affordances. Data embedded in everyday media objects expressed not only semantic content, but also interactive directives. In the larger network of the ubiquitous game system, these signs embodied techniques, in the Latourian sense: they suggested, through their form, specific modus operandi for user to adopt.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Best Sentence #74

It's the weekend, and on the weekends because I work so hard, I like to give you a little cluster of sentences instead of just one. Woo!

The text below is the introduction to one of the more non-intuitive arguments of my dissertation-- that the original social vision of ubiquitous computing has actually been realized to a large extent in gamer culture, but without the ubicomp technology. Sort of a "We love the vision, but we don't need to wait for embedded sensors and computer-augmented objects, etc., to make it happen" kind of thing.


Is it possible for the design philosophy of ubiquitous computing to manifest first as a pervasive social architecture, and only later (if ever) as a widespread technological infrastructure? New media theory traditionally posits the opposite flow of influence: social adjustments follow the introduction of novel systems and devices. As William J. Mitchell observes in his 2003 Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City: “We shape our technologies, then our technologies shape us” (6). From Raymond Williams’s seminal 1974 article on “The Technology and the Society” and Langdon Winner’s influential 1986 essay “Technologies as Forms of Life” to Mitchell’s more recent work, scores of theorists have explored how new technologies change our daily habits and restructure our relationships at every scale, from the intimate to the civic, from the private to the global-public sphere. But in the case of ubiquitous computing, must the promised technological innovation precede the social reorganization to which the field aspires? Or could, instead, ubiquitous computing’s social vision inspire a new pattern of everyday life in advance of its widespread technological realization?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Best Sentence #73

Can we activate the world through embedded patterns, rather than embedded systems?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Cheers to Dissertation Community

Cheers to the other sentence-a-day and word-count-countdown blogs that have popped up recently! I'm so happy to have a community of fellow academics hurtling toward final filing deadlines.

If you like this blog, check out Anne's and Trevor's and Jean's...

...and if you are out there doing the same thing, leave a link here!

Best Sentence #72

Many thanks to all the #unfiction folks who earlier this week shared their really great comments on the art form of SPEC. :)


Note here that spec is not about solving the “real” puzzles. Instead, spec is about constructing a puzzle out of non-puzzle content so that it, too, can be formally gamed.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Best Sentence #71

However, not all of the emergent play that surrounded the game was pleasurable for its designers to watch.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Best Sentence #70

Here, the authors hedge slightly on the origins and purpose of the game—and with good reason.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Best Sentence #69

Finally, onto the good stuff.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the chapters on alternate reality gaming.


In A Theory of Fun, game designer Raph Koster writes: “Usually our brains have to do hard work to turn messy reality into something as a clear as a game is” (36).

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Best Sentence #68

Whoops! So busy working yesterday I forgot to blog. But don't worry. I didn't dare take the day off... even if it is Memorial Weekend.

Today I am revising chapters 1 - 4 based on feedback from my co-chairs, so I can submit them to my other committee members. I'm working especially hard to clarify organization and to connect the chapters one to another. So my best sentence for the day is one such connecting effort.


Therefore, in the next chapter, I propose a classification scheme that situates ubiquitous gaming in a larger possibility space of ubiquitous play and performance, a space in which design decisions about what should be made ubiquitous, who should play, and to which ends we and our technologies should perform are very much still being made.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Best Sentence #67

210 pages and counting...


Can the aesthetics of spectacle when combined with iconic game structures and imagery in fact be used to organize and to inspire direct participation, rather than to create alienation?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Best Sentence #66

A few sentences today because I have been working SO! HARD!


Is Central Park’s Sheep Meadow necessarily less of a magic circle than a theater? Does situating a game in public and outdoors necessarily mean a rupture of traditional boundaries for play? As a site, I would suggest that Sheep Meadow is not in fact pervasive in the sense of pushing the limits of where and when it is appropriate to play. What is actually pervasive and disruptive about the project's design is not its publicc location, but rather its designed attitude toward the public.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Best Sentence #65

How are these two kinds of identity reticulated through public encounters with city architecture, neighbors and strangers, pedestrian choreography, traffic flows, crowds and abandoned spaces?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Best Sentence #64

I am at some kind of Zen peace today with my dissertation. Having submitted 150 pages, getting ready to submit another 50 pages this week, and feeling like basically all of it is pretty interesting and useful work, I have found a little oasis of dissertation calm.


To have the two separate classes compete with one another would be to imagine a future in which a user must choose between mobility and networkability; to bridge the classes is to imagine a future in which such a choice is not necessary.

Best Sentence #63

The designers apparently anticipate feedback on this low-tech approach; on their FAQ page, they address the project’s lack of actually ubiquitous computing.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Best Sentence #62

This map is another example of the project’s unfulfilled rhetoric of abundant pervasive gameplay.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Best Sentence #61

Not only would this be more physically demanding, it would also require online players to make their strategic voting decisions under a significantly greater time pressure.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Best Sentence #60

So much can get in the way of writing.

Spent the better part of the day in the doggy hospital with Meche... we're home now, but she had a very rough 24-hours of doggy enteritis, which can be really bad news for puppies her age. We've finally stopped the vomiting (I think) but she's still not digesting things properly. You don't want to know how many new carpet stains I've been trying to remove.

So, this has been a lame week. 1) Cell phone stolen. 2) Laptop motherboard fried. 3) Meche sick. But you know what they say about three's, so the next set should be better.

I did submit chapter 3 on Tuesday. Chapter 4 is in great shape -- 43 pages of stuff I basically like that I'm whipping into shape for a weekend submission.

Let's see if I can find a sentence from today's brief writing session that sums up my mood. Oh, who am I kidding. I barely wrote 500 words and not one of them all that interesting.


See, for example, “Pervasive Electronic Gaming” (Julian Bleecker, 2006); “Sustainable Play: Towards a New Games Movement for the Digital Age” (Celia Pearce, et al 2005); and “Locative Media” (Steve Dietz, 2003).

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Best Sentence #i've lost count

The emotional consequences of being replaced in such a potentially meaningful encounter evoke serious questions about the degree to which social relations may not only be mapped onto our technologies, but also relegated to, colonized by and ultimately co-opted by them as well.

a pitiable circumstance

My Sony Vaio laptop died overnight. I am now working from my desktop-replacement laptop, the Dell.

The last time I backed up my dissertation work was 5 PM yesterday. I lost 7 hours of work, which I am now reconstructing. It is painful.

Sadly, I never backed up my works cited for this particular chapter, which means recompiling about 100 formal references from scratch.

I was supposed to submit this chapter this morning. I hope I can repair the damage, redo the work, and get it in.

Never mind that I need a new freaking laptop and haven't backed up anything from that damn machine except the disseration work.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Best Sentence #58

What might be the true motivations of such physically intimate applications, and why is a ludic framework necessary for their success?

Best Sentence #57

Whoops, from yesterday... a bit late.

If ubicomp values material engagement, then the loss of tactile play and the designed relegation of interactivity to the screen together suggest that the colonizing goals of ubicomp research have precluded its games from effectively embodying the technological values of the field.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Best Sentence #56

While the real-world players face potential physical danger, the online players risk rejection and the consequences of being misunderstood.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Best Sentence #55

The toys have literally disappeared.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Best Sentence #54

I am now officially opening the comments for this post to a little guessing game. What number best sentence will I be at when I have officially finished a full draft of the dissertation? (Revisions aside for the moment.)

Anyone who guesses Best Sentence #319 or some other depressing number will be booed.

The game prototype required the local environment to be temporarily modified with a range of embedded sensors and a stronger WLAN. These modifications represent the project’s attempt to emulate the desired future state of ubiquitous computing. In this way, the conference room where the game was played was, in a sense, as fantastic and make-believe as the imaginary archipelago depicted on the PDA screens. It embodied a fantasy of the future of ubicomp technology.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Best Sentence #53

Whenever a collision occurs, the game ends.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Best Sentence #52

The map precedes the territory.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Best Sentence #51

Much like David Blaine, I feel a few minutes short of a full stunt tonight.


In the field of ubiquitous computing games research, these playtests are conducted on site; they are field tests as much as they are play tests.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Best Sentence #50

Back from New York City, where I was able to interview two of the designers I'm writing about in chapter 4.

I've been doing more editing than writing. But here we go, back to generating novel combinations of words. To make up for not blogging for a few days, a few sentences strung together. I won't say which games I'm talking about here, but if you know the area and have a guess...


Note that for both ubicomp games, even as they represent the turn of digital gaming back toward physical reality, the very “reality” of each project’s gameness is challenged. Questions from would-be players--‘Is this a real thing they are doing?’ and ‘When will it be turned into a real game?’--perfectly capture the performative nature of ubicomp games research. After all, an emulation is not really the thing it emulates; it is a convincing, mimetic reproduction. So, too, are the games that emulate the future of ubiquitous computing.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Best Sentence #49

If I don't get out of this ubicomp chapter tomorrow (my self-imposed submission deadline) I am going to go crazy.

It is a tangible act of flag-planting in the name of ubicomp—only in this case, the flags are chips and sensors.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Best Sentence #48

Lazy Sunday, no Mr. Pibbs and Red Vines, just crazy delicious dissertating.


This design concept, then, effectively performs the anxieties ubiquitous computing has about the balance of power between users and technologies, displacing these anxieties onto the relationship between two different classes of users.

Best Sentence #47

Whoops, forgot to blog last night. I was distracted by an emergency cupcake liberation mission to Love at First Bite Bakery.

Here's the best sentence of the day from yesterday, Saturday. It's a little froofy, but sincere, just like the sweet pink icing on those liberated cupcakes.


I will argue that in a kind of postcolonial fashion, the games that conquer the ubiquitous computing platforms are dialectically influenced by the myths and dreams of their colonized technologies.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Best Sentence #46

Happy Friday. Kiyash and I went to Bev Mo last night and bought 20 bottles of wine. Cabernet shiraz, white shiraz, zinfadel, chateau neuf-de-pape, bordeau... Now, I am not saying that dissertating is driving me to drink, but...

Success is metaphorically conceived of as a place precisely because the entire ubiquitous computing project is linguistically bound up in the notion of whereness, or ubiety—the condition of being located in a particular place.

P.S. Okay, don't worry, it's the semi-annual nickel sale at Bev Mo and we always stock up. I promise every sentence you read on this blog was created in complete sobriety :) Even if they don't always read like it, lol.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Best Sentence #45

Today, I wrote a mere two pages. But they're two chewy and important pages. I've had a hard time organizing and road-mapping the writing I've already done for Chapter 3. These pages help it make sense to me... and hopefully to the reader.


Here, the possibility space is a literal concept: the many potential sites for computing need to be named, occupied and tested.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Best Sentence #44

But how do you make invisible computing visible?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Best Sentence #43

Diet coke should be the official sponsor of my dissertation. I am willing, for instance, to print the dissertation on archival paper with a Diet Coke logo watermark. I am now consuming greater quantities of Diet Coke daily than my boss did when we were gearing up for a 1999 launch.

Also, my ribs are much better, but still not healed yet. I haven't been able to do yoga or run in the 4 weeks since I broke them, which is making me a little stir crazy!

Remember how I wanted to change the tone of the ubicomp chapter? Here, the best sentence of the day represents the new, smooth, non-hysterical flavor of the ubicomp chapter. By which I mean it's boring, but it's calmer... which is good.


Here, it helps to examine the mission statement and graphical logo of the research group that produced Smart Playing Cards.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Best Sentence #42

This weekend, I’ve been pulling all my old rhetoric and philosophy of science books off the shelf. I came to UC Berkeley intending to study the performance of scientific practice and theory. That all changed after I wrote a seminar paper about The Beast, went off to hike in the Swiss Alps for 8 days, and thought about which of the two subjects I really had something to say about. The Beast, and then all the other games, won. But now as I work on the chapter about ubicomp gaming, the category of ubiquitous play and performance that is absolutely tied up with scientific research and publication, I realize that I need to draw on all of that old science stuff. So, that’s very nice. I feel like I am, in at least a small way, doing the thing I came here to do. It’s nice to be underlining “Science on Stage” again. Oh, and to get into the spirit of things, I’m wearing my “Science Commons” tshirt while I work today.


This ever-expanding network of published citations serves as a provisional conquerer’s map, an authoritative record of the technologies’ success in colonizing, incrementally, more and more spaces and objects in the name of ubiquitous computing.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Best Sentence #41

Status report!

Chapter 2: Nearing final, polished completion. Likely to weigh in 35 - 40 pages. Will be submitted TONIGHT to dissertation co-chairs.

Chapter 3: Roughly 30 pages written. Substantial writing of theory section and a case study remains to be completed. Should be submitted to co-chairs by END OF MONTH.

Chapter 4: Roughly 40 pages written. Final observations of case studies to be written and theory section needs improvement. Should be submitted to co-chairs by END OF MONTH.

Chapter 5: Title, epigraph, and structure chosen. Basic idea of what needs to be done. Aiming for mid-May submission.

Chapter 6: 40 pages written. Need to write final 5 pages explaining how Chapter 6 relates to Chapter 5 and the subsequent chapters. Not sure if I will finish this before or after I do Chapter 5.

Chapters 7 (mimesis), 8 (community), 9 (power) to be prepared in the last 30 days of my writing period, hopefully using a significant amount of research compiled for my DAC, DiGRA, Modern Drama and MIT Press articles of the past couple of years.


What does it mean to perceive an affordance?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Best Sentence #41

Oh, happy day. I realized while in the shower this morning that a very good way to explain the things I find most interesting about alternate reality games and urban superhero games is to harken back to my earliest game influences. To know that I get to formally cite Tass Times in Tonetown in my dissertation makes it all. worth. while!

Here is some stuff to chew on, best sentence-y.

Here, it helps to take a historical detour to consider two early genres of personal computer games: text adventures and graphic adventure games. These genres taught gamers a pair of strategies for investigating virtual worlds: affordance hunting and promiscuous activation. I want to suggest that ubiquitous gaming seeks to teach gamers these same strategies for investigating the real world.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Best Sentence #40

Excellent, the O'Reilly Networks links to The Best Sentence of The Day in its introduction to an interview with me about scaling up gameplay. Maybe I'll have to start sounding slightly less stressed and hysterical about the dissertation endgame...

Finally, I will explore the genre’s performative practice of playtesting, which I will argue prioritizes the mass replication of citations of gameplay over the ubiquitous proliferation of gameplay itself.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Best Sentence #39

Even though I worked for about 10 hours on Easter Sunday, I didn't post a 'best sentence of the day' because I had a very frustrating time of it. However, I will pay homage to that day of work by posting another best sentence of the day today.

I'm finally getting the place where I get to talk about the games I love the best. Majestic, the Go Game, the Beast...


How do you know when you are playing a game? And how do you know when a game is playing you?

Best Sentence #38

I have decided to reorganize... the first 5 or so pages each of Chapters 3, 4, and 5 will move to the end of Chapter 2, which is really too short in its current form to stand alone. Chapter 2 will now serve as a more thorough and substantive overview of the following chapters. This also greatly helps Chapters 3, 4 and 5, which were getting too long to work as single chapters.

This is a good and helpful organizational strategy, but it is also unnerving. There is so much to juggle that I have 8 Word documents open right now.


While pervasive games seek to take play out of the virtual realm and put it back into the real world, its reliance on spectacle may, in fact, transform that real world into a less actionable environment.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Best Sentence #37

Too stressed about writing... must play more.

I had this very silly idea recently to quote ABBA in my dissertation. Today, I insert that quote as an epigraph to the new chapter 2 "What's the Name of the Game? Classifying Multiple Genres of Ubiquitous and Pervasive Play". I insert it by way of saying This is MY dissertation and if I want to quote ABBA, I will quote ABBA! Somehow it puts things in perspective.

I wonder how many UC Berkeley dissertations have quoted ABBA. We do have a rather prestigous Scandinavian Studies Ph.D. program. So who knows? Maybe I am actually part of a long tradition of quoting ABBA.

Here's the complete Chapter 2 epigraph

In the case of ubiquitous computation… people are still trying to find the loose verbal grab-bag just to put the concepts into. So I would argue that this work is basically a literary endeavor. When it comes to remote technical eventualities, you don't want to freeze the language too early. Instead, you need some empirical evidence on the ground, some working prototypes, something commercial, governmental, academic or military. Otherwise you are trying to freeze an emergent technology into the shape of today's verbal descriptions. This prejudices people. It is bad attention economics. It limits their ability to find and understand the intrinsic advantages of the technology…. So language is of consequence. Those of us who make up words about
these matters probably ought to do a better job.
–science fiction author and design critic Bruce Sterling, “The Internet of Things”

What’s the name of the game?/ Does it mean anything to you?— pop
group ABBA, “The Name of the Game”

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Best Sentence #36

aaaaaaaaaa if i never type the word ubiquitous again it will be too soon. It's not even that I think this is really the best sentence of the day. They all just sound alike now. ubiquitous blah blah blah game blah blah computing blah blah I can't wait to finish this chapter.

Also, I have been making revision notes to myself in my Outlook "Tasks" folder. Today I added the following task, which I think is pretty revealing of my state of mind:

"Soften hysterical tone of Ubicomp chapter"


Here, the title becomes an entreaty, urging computer scientists and software developers to harness games’ momentum for the benefit of ubiquitous computing.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Best Sentence #35

Gameplay is just a means to an end.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Best Sentence #34

Okay, so two things.

First, doing a critical analysis of ACM and IEEE papers from a humanities perspective is weird. I know the authors are not used to being discussed in such a manner. Scientific papers usually just congratulate other people for thinking of things first or making an interesting related effort. They don't, like, accuse each other of having a Manifest Destiny complex. Um.

Second, I just wrote the following sentence, which is going to be a major aspect of my Chapter 3 critical analysis ("Colonizing Through Play: The Ubicomp Games"). It is scary, because I am like: OMG! That is SO TRUE! But since I only just thought of it this very second, I am also like: OMG! Now I have to figure out what the hell it means! Using the word "performative" is, like, de rigeur for a performance studies dissertation, but as it is just about the most frought term in the field (everybody screws up the original intended application) I am like! Oh no! Do I really want to go there!

I know, I know I'm all over the place. :) Anway the point is, I LIKE this new idea and am happy about the work it will do, if I can reign it in and make it do that work.

The projects profess to be performative, but in the end, are largely only theatrical.

UPDATE: Ha ha, I've changed my minds. The projects actually are performative.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Best Sentence #33

On track to write about 10 pages today. Not bad... but my brain is totally thrashing trying to figure out what to about a Chapter 2 that has suddenly exploded into a Chapter 2, 3, and 4. I keep wanting to be DONE with Chapter 2, but I've just come to accept that it's really 3 different chapters that I have to write simultaneously to make sense of any single one. So my brain hurts today.

How can researchers resolve this design dissonance?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Best Sentence #32

Bet some of you know the very recent current event this sentence refers to...

In addition to potentially frustrating would-be players, replicating game imagery in everyday environments without concern for affordances may also engender considerable anxiety in the local community.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Best Sentence #31

15 hours of writing/working/thinking today, but a pretty boring day in terms of the words on the page. I'm in the middle of presenting my least favorite of the 3 categories proposed in Best Sentence #30, so I fear my analysis is less lively than the stuff I was writing last week. Oh well. Boring but contributing to the scholarly literature is OKAY! :)

Although its designers present You’re In Control rather earnestly, reading the project as a tongue-in-cheek critique of when “wherever hardware, games” meets “ubiquitous computing objects are everywhere, colonizing!” seems quite reasonable.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Best Sentence #30

The problem with writing about digital games and game studies is that new papers and new games keep popping up every damn day! Everytime I start to write something, a new relevant finding or example falls into my lap. GRRRR. I may have to start feigning ignorance soon and ignore it all.

In the meantime, Sunday bonus of 3 best sentences, strung together, inspired by one such damn new paper in a damn new journal.

In the inaugural issue of the Games and Culture journal, games ethnographer Tom Boellstorff observes: “The information age has, under our noses, become the gaming age. It appears likely that gaming and its associated notion of play may become a master metaphor for a range of human social relations, with the potential for new freedoms and new creativity as well as new oppressions and inequality” (29). Here, then, I aim to reflect the fullness of that range, by presenting three such master metaphors generated by three different approaches to both the problem and the potential of play in the era of ubiquitous computing. These metaphors we can characterize as colonization through gameplay (the ubicomp games); disruption through gameplay (the pervasive games); and activation through gameplay (the ubiquitous games).

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Best Sentence #29

So, another weird habit I've picked up while "writing"* 12 - 16 hours a day: Playing "Bad Day" on my cell phone. That's the song American Idol plays when a contestant gets voted off. You know how it goes: "You had a bad day... you're waiting in line just to get the bad news... you had a bad day..." I don't know why, but it makes me feel better. Of course, every day is a bad day until I get this damn thing done.

Best sentence:

Not all experimental efforts in this space push us in the same direction, despite a pronounced tendency in the field to treat each and every “pervasive game” or “ubicomp game” or “ubiquitous game” as just one more step toward liberating digital games from the computer monitor or the television screen.

*(where writing is often actually just staring at the screen thinking, or hunting the Web for just one more paper in the ACM digital library or one more damning design statement that will help me put the final nail in the coffin of the "unified" pervasive game design space.)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Best Sentence #28

What might we come to understand about the state of networked play at the turn of the 21st century by using the terms more intentionally—for example, to distinguish between projects that strive to create persistent, always already gaming infrastructures (what we could more carefully call “ubiquitous” games) and projects that aim to construct more mobile, intermittent infrastructures, emphasizing the active, and frequently disruptive, transition to gameplay (“pervasive”games)?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Best Sentence #27

Like the merged fields of ubiquitous and pervasive computing, both theorists and practitioners interested in the rapid expansion of real-world platforms and everyday contexts for play have taken to using the terms pervasive gaming and ubiquitous or ubiquitous computer gaming interchangeably.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Best Sentence #26

Yes! This is really a sentence from my dissertation!

Are they allowed to wear roller-skates to go faster?

big news

I am officially on leave of absence from 42 Entertainment to work full-time on my dissertation. I hope to file in July.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Best Sentence #25

oh! OH! OH! My favorite sentence of the day so far jumped out at me because of a recent frustrating email correspondence with someone who suggested that bystanders might be offended by observing gameplay in atypical settings. I didn't realize until I wrote about someone else's game in which the spectacle of the game was given more attention than the direct experience of the game how messed up (pardon my informality) that is. Why should someone's viewing of an experience carry more weight than the actual experience itself? That is to say, who is (or should be) more deeply affected by design-- the onlookers or the participants?

Here, the impact of the game on those who saw it is privileged above the impact of the game on those who played it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Best Sentence #24

I know this is completely weird, but when I'm having a relatively good day of writing (note that mild panic and existential Ph.D. nausea can still be found even on "good day"), I keep hearing the voiceof Project Runway's Tim Gunn's: "Make it work, make it work." I start thinking about my Word document as a garment that I have to keep hemming, seaming, tucking, bedazzling. When I can get to that place of make it work, make it work, I know I will make some progress that day.

So the good news is that at only 10:51 AM, I am already hearing Tim Gunn's voice...

But it also suggests the blind spots of socio-technological critique made through the medium of a big, urban game.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Best Sentence #23

Oh my god, my brain is like a giant tangled thread hopelessly knotted. Working it out.... working it out...

Do we need embedded computers to make everyday objects and more interactive ?

In other words, do novel affordances need to be hard-wired?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Best Sentence #22

Since the chest pain is no longer excruciating, it's back to writing I go. Days lost: 5. And may I mention that dissertation writing still qualifies as more painful than broken ribs?

The best sentence of the admittedly sparse evening of writing (just 1 page):

How does the percentage of people who engaged with B.U.G. the situation compare with the percentage who people who engaged with B.U.G. the spectacle?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Best Sentence #21

If anyone besides Ian Bogost can guess what the 3 terms alluded to below might be, you win a prize. Plus, I would be mind-boggled.


These terms traditionally have been used interchangeably in the ubiquitous computing literature; here, however, I want to suggest that allowing each term to represent its own body of work offers significant critical benefit.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Best Sentence #20

Back from the Game Developers Conference and slowly returning to writing. I've started building Chapter 2, and today I am most happy not with my own wordsmithing, but rather the cluster of quotations I'm using as the epigraph to the chapter. So here they are:

Games have an unprecedented ability to conquer new platforms and incorporate new technologies. –Games researcher Jan Jörnmark


We don’t make games for consoles or PCs or handheld devices. And we don’t make games for gamers. Our install base is everyone. Our platform: the world. –Game director Jordan Weisman

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Best Sentence #19

Right now, I'm working through all of the source material (game design documents, gameplay videos, gameplay blogs, interviews and press) for Chapter 2: This Is Not Ubiquitous Gaming, in which I try to separate out my objects of study from the rest of the pervasive gaming field. So not much writing, more like criticl notetaking, although I'm trying to make notes everywhere that could eventually become writing later this week... For example:

It is precisely the urban-ness of these “big urban games” that makes it so difficult to reconcile their design and implementation with a ubiquitous gaming philosophy. There are simply too many places that are not cities.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Best Sentence #18

I have spent 36 of the last 48 hours writing. Ouch. My brain. However, a significant milestone achieved: I just submitted the first 45 pages to my dissertation co-chairs.

Best sentence of the day, because when I say "they", what I really mean is "me! me!":

They aspire to persistent and perpetual gaming.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Best Sentence #17

Today, I offer a best footnote:

[2] It is worth observing here that Gold’s discussion of the importance of image reproduction and replication in general presents an uncanny reminder of the official corporate sponsor of the original ubiquitous computing project: Xerox Technology, which made its name and fortune precisely in the field of document reproduction. While I find Gold’s critical observations highly persuasive and do not want to suggest he was developing his theory under any undue influence, it is nevertheless an excellent reminder of the importance of social and historical context to the production of any critical theory.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Best Sentence #16

Oh boy... it's scary to show your cards. It's easier to post sentences that are evocative, but not particularly revealing of my core arguments. Well, not so today...

Specifically, over a five year period at the start of the 21st century, a series of ludic, or gamelike, works have built what we can recognize as a culture of ubiquitous play and performance, in which the term ubiquitous is meant to evoke the original design philosophy (rather than the design practice) of Rich Gold, Mark Weiser, and the Xerox PARC team.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Best Sentence #15

It is only in thinking about the nature of child’s play, and particularly the role of magical thinking in early childhood exploration of the material world, that I have come to understand what we might call the psychology of ubiquitous computing.

Second best sentence, written by my puppy Meche, who walked across my keyboard:


Monday, March 13, 2006

Best Sentence #14

Sometimes I think I am not claiming enough. My statements are not novel or ambitious enough. Sometimes I worry that I am claiming too much. My statements are extravagant interpretations. Yesterday I felt the former, today a bit of the latter. What I believe is that it is better to err on the side of boldness. Then, if I am wrong, at least what I write will have a poetic and artistic life to it. It will express my desire to believe a certain thing, even if that desire makes me overstate my case. My dissertation, I think, at the very least, will explain everything I have tried to do with payphones, graveyards, bookstores, crosswalks, and so on, to anyone who cares to understand my design practice. I do not mean the dissertation to be a design philosophy, exactly, but I recognize arleady that it will open itself up to that function.

Is the experience of ubiquitous computing, in fact, a radical rediscovering of the material world that requires us to play like children?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Best Sentence #13

What signals ‘this is a computer’?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Best Sentence #12

I've received a few lovely emails from people who are actually following this live-blogging of the dissertation. That's great.

The big news is that I had a very inspiring email exchange with the chair of my dissertation committee yesterday. We went over my writing schedule and the process I'm hoping to follow towards filing, and in his words, "I don't think that is any problem at all." OMG. Can this actually happen?

Favorite sentence so far...

The work of both dark play and ubiquitous computing, then, is a process of tacitly challenging the environmental and socio-contextual categories for their respective modes of interaction.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Best Sentence #11

It aggressively and proudly demonstrates its mimetic charms to you.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Best Sentence #10

I want to finish this section tonight... I will try, try, try!

Favorite sentence so far:

However, the ability to trigger recognition or even the perception of an unmediated encounter does not mean the skinned object is rendered in all of its phenomenological fullness.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Best Sentence #9

Back in Berkeley wrestling with the same stupid section that has been giving me trouble for 3 full days now. I am about to finish it up, knowing though that it needs to be revised to have a cleaner and more persistent argument. The kind of writing I am doing now is the desperate feel-your-way writing, where you write things that are more poetic than usual. I can feel what I have to say, but I don't know what I have to say. So the words are... a little more like traditional performance studies text than I usually write.

Here's one such sentence that I actually like, and that I think works, even though it is the first coining of the phrase post-polar and I don't stop to explain it. I hope readers will stop to think what it means --through the force of two poles pulling simultaneously-- and appreciate the interpretiveness of the phrasing, as opposed to me spelling it out. But maybe in revision it will get spelled out.

Convention and classification itself is a kind of creative force, one-half of the post-polar play dynamic.

Ha ha, so much for best sentence #9... I've already edited it to be more clear about what I mean. Here's the new version:

Convention and classification itself is a kind of creative force, one-half of the necessary polarity that animates the play dynamic.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Best Sentence #8

danah boyd and I are holed up in our hotel room at etech together, writing our brains out instead of networking in the halls or absorbing genius talks.

here is my best sentence so far. It won't mean much to you out of context, but I am happy with it because I think it is very dissertationly:

Through this classification rhetoric, he turns an argument about preferred modes of critique into a discussion of the ontological status of the critiqued object.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Best Sentence #7

Last night, I said to Kiyash: I am always on the precipice of having nothing to say. Writing, sometimes, is such an act of faith. I have to sit down, make myself stare at my open Word document, and just believe that if I start playing with quotations, asking myself questions and composing tentative answers, it will turn into an argument. Usually it does, but only if I believe.

Here's my favorite sentence of the day so far. Since I have been posting some mouthfuls, I'll make this one pithy:

Is games research lively?

Best Sentence #6

I have a kind of strange "distracted" writing practice. When I sit down to write, I put in as many hours as my brain can stand in a quiet, focused setting. Then, when my brain hurts too much to keep going, I switch to distracted writing mode. Usually, this involves finding something on television to serve as live, background companionship. I may only actually attend to a few minutes of whatever is on, but somehow as structured noise it makes my brain relax enough to keep working. This weekend, it is the Princess Bride that is keeping my brain relaxed. VH1 is airing it mutliple times. The funny thing is, this is exactly how I wrote papers in middle school. My sister and I taped the Princess Bride from a free month of Cinemax our cable network gave us in fifth grade. That tape was played to exhaustion in the following years. I estimate having worked in front of that particular film through at least 100 showings before I made it to high school. And it completely, totally continues to work today. :)

Here is my favorite sentence from the five hours of writing I have done so far:

Sutton-Smith and Avedon are not interested in understanding the fundamental order of games as an aesthetic quality, but rather as a practical prompt to specific kinds of action and participation.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Best Sentence #5

Oh, good day already. Wrote until 1 am last night, up by 9 am to pick up where I left off. Finally finished the section on Caillois (tricky little thing) and by 10 am I already have a favorite sentence of the day.

Facing Caillois’ condescension toward cultures devoted to the mimicry-ilinx combination, I cannot help but think of Huizinga, who first mimics the conventions of modern science in order to present the notion of a Homo ludens and who then embraces the vertiginous whirling and shuttlings of the mind that an irrational classification of play produces.

Best Sentence #4

12:08 am and still writing... this is a tricky section that I have already abandoned twice. Trying to finish it up before sleep.

Clues in the actual presentation of the taxonomy are few and far between.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Best Sentence #3

I like this sentence so much, I won't even try to wait until later to post it!

The counter-intuitiveness of Huizinga’s scientific rhetoric demands a closer reading than it traditionally has received.

Best sentence #2

Okay, so I still have hours and hours of writing left tonight, but here is a choice sentence from today:

A taxonomy of the structural elements of games allows us to see beyond the framing of an interaction—“this is play” or “this is not play”—to its actual core mechanics, which Avedon implies ultimately may prove more useful for categorizing an experience as a game (or not) than the self-classifying frame.

Best Sentence #1

For the lit-philes among you, you might notice the shoutout. Feel free to show off your intertextual expertise in the comments!

The literature of game studies, you might say, is strewn with the wreckage of others—other frameworks, other names, and other positions.