April, 2004

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Hey, you’re TEFed!!

elina.jpgI received a particularly happy bit of news two days ago; a paper I’d co-written had been accepted for a conference that will be hosted at the National University of Singapore in June this year. Even then, although this isn’t my first academic essay on MMORPGs – the first one was my 15,000 word treatment of virtual communities in MMORPGs that I wrote as part of my Master degree in 2001 – the receiving of the news nevertheless sent a bit of jitters. This is the first time I’m presenting an MMORPG paper to an international conference, whereupon the publication will be added to the ACM Digital Library – an apparently prestigious resource for computing and related sciences. The paper covers the first of five research objectives – on defining grief play – I have in my Ph.D research, and thus is a pretty important milestone event for myself.

My co-writer is Elina, who works with the Nokia Research Center in Finland. Amazingly, despite the fact that we’re, quite literally, on opposite sides of the globe, we got on well from the bat and enjoyed working on the paper together. In fact, she remarks that the one and only major conflict we had in the course of our working together for the last six months was in the last few days leading to the submission of our paper in February this year. The conference required papers to be limited to 10 pages, and at several junctures, she must have sensed the immense frustration I had when she suggested we cut out one portion or another of our paper. So much so that after we submitted the paper, she said, mournfully, that I’d probably never want to work with her again. On the contrary, after the submission, I asked if she’d like to co-write with me my next paper that will cover player motivations.:)

This brings to the point of my reflection for this entry this time – that I’m continually surprised at how different can two persons be but still are able to work cooperatively with the task at hand. From the top of it, aside from the differences of time zones, work hours and the like; I am a speed reader and can very quickly absorb holistically large volumes of text but at the expense of its intricacies. Elina is a more careful reader than I am and can better detect the little nuances from sentence to sentence. Working in the middle of nowhere in the world, whoops Perth I mean – supposedly the most isolated large city in the world – I don’t get nearly the same kind of resources as an MMORPG researcher would elsewhere. She has at her disposal a very impressive library at Nokia Research Center that couldn’t be better stocked with exactly the kind of material I need for my research. Her interest area in her first paper was on the very optimistic and sunny aspects of virtual community support in MMORPGs. My interest is in socially deviant and maybe even psychotic behaviour of players. She parties and drinks beer in pyjamas. The only thing I drink is (boring) Earl Grey Tea. And lastly, in Star Wars Galaxies, she plays a member of the rebel resistance, and I’m Imperial – and the two of us are – in theory – supposed to kill each other on sight, as even the most casual fans of Star Wars will know.

But amazingly, we couldn’t get on better, and this I know is due in great part to her tolerance for my occasionally less sunny moods. This really does bring to mind what one of my favourite authors of temperament theory, Tim LaHaye, once suggested – that opposites compliment each other far better than persons of like nature would. And in this case, the total of our parts have been larger than its mere sum.:)