Friday, June 30, 2006

Which Type of Gamer Girl are You?

Seems that all my posts these days are related to gaming. It's summer and I'm trying to have a little fun in between job hunting and sorting through the mess that is my home office.

Which Type of Gamer Girl are You?

Hack and Slash is the way you play. Frenzied melee combat with swords and other old-school weapons. You love a good trip back in time to the days of old. Keep those blades sharp, and cut some orcs down to size.
Take this quiz!

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

D&D Alignment Test

After reading about it at Joanna's Adventures in Academia, I took the character alignment test from D&D online. I think they meant it to be used when creating a character, but it's much more fun to answer truthfully for yourself. My result was neutral but Beorn got neutral evil. Even if you haven't played D&D it's a fun little quiz.


A neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. She doesnÂ’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most neutrality is a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil. After all, she would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, sheÂ’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. The common phrase for neutral is "true neutral." Neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Must see video

I laughed, I cried. It was much better than Cats. If you haven't seen this video of Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy yet, watch it now. So refreshing!

After listening to Joss, I have to make the connection between his comment that strong women characters are valuable for men as well as women, and the phenomenon of men taking on female avatars when they are gaming. For some reason, research shows that women gamers rarely switch genders when gaming. Because games are so populated by male avatars, women frequently play games with male avatars , but when given the choice they rarely choose gender bending. This doesn't bode well for Dr. Freud. As a fan of Jung's writings, I have to say that I think gaming and other virtual spaces provide a situation in which men can express and work with their animas.

While many male gamers come up with convoluted reasons for gender bending online, many admit to not consciously knowing we they chose to play a female. Male to female gender bending is still a serious taboo for heterosexual men in our culture and online games provide a space in which men can unconsciously explore the feminine aspects of their psyche without fear of (much) ridicule or violence.

Considering the amount of harassment and sexual attention female characters get in many online games, it seems hard to believe that men would choose to play female characters simply for the voyeuristic pleasure watching a female body as they claim. As Joss stated in his speech, strong female characters are certainly sexy and part of men's pleasure in playing a female avatar must indeed be voyeuristic, but if having a view of a female body was all that was desired, most of these men would choose options in which they could control the female body without identifying with the character. For example, in WOW, if a man wants to have a sexy female side-kick he can play a warlock, and summon up a succubus.

In most online games any female avatar is by definition strong, since female and male characters have exactly the same abilities and are able to progress through the games in an equal fashion. This fact also contributes to making online gaming a safe space for men to explore their feminine qualities since they will not face negative consequences in terms of in game 'career' development. Similarly, Joss's strong female characters, are in some sense safe for men to identify with since they are not weak and yet they are highly feminine.

Our hyper-masculinized culture allows (and at times encourages) women to explore the more masculine aspects of their personalities. Women, particularly in work spaces, must negotiate their identities in situations where masculinity is the norm. Men rarely get the opportunity to similarly explore their feminine aspects. It is only in the highly removed and fictional worlds of gaming and science fiction that men are permitted these sorts of explorations.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

tech overload!

I haven't been posting because I'm a little disoriented. In the last week I have spent so much time discovering new possiblities on the web that I'm on information overload. My latest discovery is listening to podcasts on itunes. The only problem is when I'm absorbing so much info it's difficult to actually produce any work (for example, blog postings.) Next thing to learn, how to post videos, or links to videos on my blog.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Good News for American Chestnuts

I have been reading so much bad news lately, here's a spot of good news. American Chestnuts were wiped out by an invasive fungus from Asia. A biologist recently found a stand of perfectly healthy chestnuts, raising hopes that scientists will be able to repopulate eastern forests.

GardenDesignOnline: A Chance for American Chestnuts


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Bridge Guilt-o-Meter

Traffic probems? Can't get people in your city to carpool? Turn your local bridge into a guilt trip anyone driving...innovative.


Monday, June 19, 2006


Since the quarter is over and I'm still feeling somewhat manic, I spent all weekend working on blog related stuff. I learned a bunch about blog templates, but I'm still not happy with the color scheme. Oh well, more changes coming soon.

I installed greasemonkey, which is an extension program for mozilla firefox. Once you install greasemonkey you can download and install 'hacks' that people have created. The crazy thing is the hacks can basically change the way you see any webpage you go to. You don't like the colors on someone's blog? You change it! There's also a hack to add a field to blogger postings pages for tags, so now I can tag everything easily.

Also discovered bloglines and Bloglines is fabulous because I can quickly keep up to date on new blog posts and news from my favorite media. At first I wasn't sure about because I thought it might be a good idea to give too much info out, but then I realized that I'm blogging under an assumed name, what do I care? tags are much more useful than web-browser bookmarks. I'm always having trouble keeping track of my bookmarks because I can't cross reference them. Also, now I can waste a lot of time looking at things other people have tagged!


Friday, June 16, 2006

Darfur is Dying-The Game

The genocide in Sudan has been translated into an online game.

I am at once fascinated and repulsed by this use of digital technology. Can online games teach people about real tragedies happening on the other side of the earth? Do these games encourage action? Or does the fantastical nature of the medium make it meaningless?

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Disturbing Drawing

Take a look at the creepy drawing that accompanies this article on ADD risk and the connection to premature birth.

At Risk: Premature Birth Is Linked to Attention Disorder - New York Times

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Prescription stimulants on campus

Boing Boing: Prescription stimulants on campus

No wonder it's difficult to keep up with the competition. If most students use stimulant drugs, how can students who don't compete? Shouldn't there be some drug testing for college students or something? I actually gave up caffeine for several years because I found that I slept so much better without it. It seems almost impossible to get through grad school without it.
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Back in junior high

Well, the class from hell is finally over. I managed to grade 110 exams in 10 hours. I figure that was less than 6 minutes per exam. Each exam consisted of 90 T/F and multiple choice questions and 3 short answer questions. Mind you, the professor had us grade them by hand, no scantrons involved. I was having trouble finishing them because I was getting so irritated about the whole thing, and the fact that I didn't say anything to the professor about the issue. I have trouble with confrontations sometimes, so instead I dropped them in her mailbox, not alphabetized. How's that for passive-aggressive? I'm working my way up to actually confronting people when I'm frustrated about something, but for now just getting away from her and the exams was a relief. Luckily, she's an adjunct and they are canceling the classes that she teaches so hopefully I will never see her again.

I have heard some terrible stories about professors abusing their TAs and RAs, so I know that my situation really wasn't that bad, but I'm just used to being treated with respect and consideration. Spending 10 hours grading exams that could have been done in 10 minutes using a machine feels like busy-work. It was like being back in Junior High.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Take a look at this! I have been interested in research about online gaming for a while. Here's a project that is collecting significant amounts of data and recording it over time. It's a great complement to qualitative studies.

the DAEDALUS PROJECT: MMORPG Research, Cyberculture, MMORPG Psychology

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Fountains of fun

I found this video on Full Circle Blog. Take a look, it's hilarious! Imagine a homemade Las Vegas extravaganza.
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I'm tired, so tired...

Worked all weekend on my landscape architecture final project. Have I mentioned how glad I am that this quarter is almost over? Then the presentations involved many groups doing powerpoint presentations. The result? I had to sit in a dark room for three hours after having only three hours sleep, two exedrine and three cups of coffee. Things to do this week...
write 10 page paper
grade 112 final exams
catch up on all the work I didn't do all quarter for my on-campus job
catch up on searching for grants/funding week, catch up on all my cohousing work


Sunday, June 11, 2006

Little boxes and New Urbanism

Thinking (a reading) about new urbanism, I have come to the conclusion that I'm just not comfortable with the nostalgic symbolism of the architecture. When I visit a new urbanist development I just can't imagine anyone other than a white, middle class, nuclear family living there. Frankly, new urbanism seems creepy. Don't get me wrong, if you read about new urbanism there are many great ideas in there, but the actual housing developments don't seem to live up to those ideas. So in honor of new urbanism, here's the famous Pete Seeger song...

Little Boxes

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky,
Little boxes, little boxes,
Little boxes, all the same.
There's a pink one and a green one,
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky tacky,
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university,
Where they were put in boxes,
And they came out all the same.
And there's doctors and lawyers
And business executives,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky,
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children,
And the children go to school.
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university,
Where they are put in boxes,
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky-tacky,
And they all look just the same.
There's a pink one and a green one,
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky,
And they all look just the same.

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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Classes are over!

Hooray! Tomorrow is dead day, I still have a ton of work to do, but at least I don't have to attend any more classes. Tonight was the last review session for the class I'm TAing. Thank the Goddess! No more TAing for people I don't like! No more TAing for classes I know nothing about! Its an end of the academic year resolution! Now the list of things to do in the next week:
finish 20 page paper
write 15 page paper
create section drawing
create perspective drawing
lay out posters for final design project
finish opportunities and constraints map
grade 112 exams


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Up, up, up!

So today during the final rap up of my urban planning class there was some discussion of how rising gas prices were finally beginning to promote more biking. In response, the guy sitting in front of me (a priest at the local church of bike)exclaims, "Up, up, up!" So I declared that this would be our new slogan. Partly I feel bad, because rising gas prices hit low income families the hardest, but I can't help thinking that people won't get out of their SUVs and support alternative transportation unless gas prices keep going up.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Daughters of the Digital Revolution

I love this! Some researchers at Georgia State are conduction an online survey about women born between 1970-1985 and technology. If you fit that catagory you might want to participate. What I love about it though, is the title they chose, "Daughters of the Revolution." It reminds me of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Suddenly I feel important, my experiences significant.


online gaming

I have been playing MMORGs for quite a while now, but a new development has made me irritated. Its called ventrillo. My World of Warcraft guild has, for the first time, gotten a ventrillo server, which means that people can communicate with other players not only through text but also through voice communication. This means that now I'm expected to wear headphones every time I play the game and be available to chat or listen to others chatting. Sometimes I don't want to chat! Also, wearing headphones is annoying, especially when most of the time on one is talking!

If you compare the World of Warcraft environment to RL (real life) environments, this development parallels all the new technologies that make people available through electronic communication 24/7. In World of Warcraft you can text anyone you want on a variety of channels-either broadcasting your message or write privately to any other player. Now with Ventrillo you are also expected to be paying attention to a cell phone/walkie-talkie like system on which anyone in your guild is able to contact you.

I had a cell phone for my job, I didn't enjoy it. Phone calls were always interrupting my activities and when I really wanted to use it the batteries usually weren't charged. I don't want everyone to be able to contact me whenever they want, I want to control how much I'm available.

The main arena in which ventrillo is useful, in my opinion, is when your online characters are interacting within the same (virtual) physical space. In that case, ventrillo provides a way to communicate when quick action is needed. This is similar to the type of communication that might happen between team members during a sporting event. It confirms that conversation is most important when you are inhabiting the same space as another person, in RL or in virtual environments. In-person interactions should take priority over text messaging and cell phone calls. There is something important about sharing actions with another person, not just words.