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I'm currently working on a DPhil in HCT at the University of Sussex. This section of the website is for an on-going 'learning diary', for me to write my thoughts and notes on various courses and my thesis.

Entries in ethics (1)

Tuesday
May102011

Baggage

I was taking part in the latest beta test for Glitch this weekend, and found myself chatting in the UK glitcher's group. There were a couple of interesting things that came out of that that I wanted to note down. 

The first thing to note is that there are a large group of players in Glitch who formerly played a game called Faunasphere. This game closed (apparently without warning) last year. The group in Glitch call themselves Faunasphere (FS) refugees, and by and large are either using the same screen name or will identify themselves with the old screen name in group chats when they hear someone else is also a FS refugee. Having read 'Communities of Play' by Celia Pearce and Artemesia about the Uru diaspora, I am finding meeting the FS refugees quite fascinating. 

All three of the other people chatting in the UK glitchers group were FS refugees. I was initially chatting to two, and when they found out I wasn't, they immediately started sharing their memories of it shutting down, and how much pain there was. One seemed much less emotional about it, focussing more on the amount of money people had spent and the unfairness. The other seemed much sadder, like they still really missed it. Later they were chatting to someone else, really worrying about whether Glitch will make it and be sustainable. They kept coming back to that, along with which other games they had/were trying to fill the gap. 

The other interesting thing about this group was their reaction to me being a PhD researcher. The immediate reaction was basically "are we being studied?". As I said to them, I am not directly studying Glitch, but here I am blogging about the chats we had. This obviously raises some ethical issues for me. I have mentioned no names in this blog post, but there were only four of us in the chat. I am hoping to find examples of the kind of norm-forming activities I expect within Glitch, and I can't wait for the community side to the game to be implemented. Do I need consent forms in order to use my experiences in-game in my research as anonymised anecdotal evidence? 

Initially I am going to use my player profile as a warning - "I'm blogging this!" style. I'll follow up on the ethical questions too. It may be that I can note down these sorts of incidents, but only in an offline diary and only use them to inform the direction of my research.