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.

Monday, June 19, 2006


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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's a dissertation? Nah just messin. Pretty cool idea for a blog though, nice work etc etc.

5:00 AM  
Blogger MachSirius said...

Looks great!
A far cry from those elusive sentences. That pulls it all together for me.
Though, I am curious how those three games specifically mentioned were classified as "seminal" for your three archetypal areas, and why you chose them for review. What was your basis? Numbers sold? Reviews? Professional recommendations?

5:01 AM  
Blogger Starry Night's Younggon Lee said...

Hi! see your around ..
Looks great!

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Phaedra said...

Congrats. That has to feel good!

And it sounds fascinating. :-)

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Brooke said...

Sounds fantastic. I can not wait to read it.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Ignaz said...

Hi my e-mail , speak wiht me in messenger, good bye................

1:57 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

...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...

What? No theologians?

*Rushes off to think deep(er) thoughts on the theology of sacred play*

2:04 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

daniel-- lol. although actually, I do cite your recent writing about EDOC laundry in chapter 6! I was so lucky to stumble across that so close to finishing the work. :)

2:48 PM  
Blogger enchantingchap said...

Hi Jane,

I love your writing, but only for its artistic value. I admit, with shame, that I don't really
understand any of it!

4:46 PM  
Blogger seeking_jazz said...

the last sentence is excellent.

6:00 PM  
Anonymous I can do everything? said...

Can you have a sentance with the word "peevish" in it? Just a thought.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Shaun said...

Not bad .. not bad :)

10:23 PM  
Blogger Shaun said...

Where exactly do you get all your sentences btw?

** Shaun **
My awesome blog:


10:24 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

It's so odd that so many people ask me where I get my sentences. Do you not see the description of the top of the page that explains what this blog is? I think we have some skimmers among us :)

10:26 PM  
Blogger MachSirius said...

You should set up an "abridged" version.

4:12 AM  
Blogger Bryan said...

Looks interesting. I am in the process of doing my own dissertation for an Msc in Project management - so I hear where you are comming from with words to add in section(x), a clean up of section (y). What I find is that it is an ever evolving process - has a life of its own as ever major change in the body of the doc means a change to the introduction! Oh well we solder on - glad to see that other people are going through the same (or at least similar) experience to myself

Best of luck
A fellow sufferer
PS When does yours have to be in by?

11:41 AM  
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