Alternate Reality Games & Transgressive Fan Play in Lonelygirl15


My latest article, Bull In a China Shop:Alternate Reality Games and Transgressive Fan Play in Social Media Franchises, is published in Transformative Works and Cultures this month.

Here’s the abstract:

In this article I examine the role of fan-ARGs in Lonelygirl15 (LG15), a video blog that became one of the first social media franchises of YouTube. Eager to explore the narrative possibilities of Internet technologies, its creators set out to provide community-based storytelling that embodied the general spirit of co-authorship. To ensure viral distribution, the videos were shot to evoke the maximum amount of curiosity, teasing their viewers with a seemingly simple plotline laden with clues that promised a deeper mystery. While fan creativity was encouraged, the concerns of creating a commercially viable story led to careful management of fan activities and strict definition of the boundaries of the LG15 canon. Intrigued by the mysterious beginnings of the show, some fans created ARG spinoffs to deliver a more engaging experience than the show initially offered. I argue that early fan ARGs became tactics through which fans engaged in transgressive play and negotiated a more meaningful role within the franchise.

Internet Governance Forum 2014, Istanbul

Last month, I was in Istanbul attending Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul. As Internet Rights and Principles Coalition, we organized the following four panels, all were very well attended.

Human Rights for the Internet: From Principles to Action
Anonymity by Design: Protecting While Connecting
Online Freedoms and Access to Information Online
Dynamic Coalition on Internet Rights and Principles: The IRPC Charter of Human rights and Principles for the Internet: 5 years on

You can read the liveblog here.

Below is the panel moderated by IRP co-directors, Marianne Franklin and Robert Bodle: Anonymity by Design: Protecting While Connecting

Below is the  panel that I moderated with Nate Schenkkan from Freedom House:  Online Freedoms and Access to Information Online

In an unexpected turn of events, Turkish activists, whose panels had mostly been rejected from the IGF, organized Ungovernance Forum, a parallel forum designed to introduce a more balanced approach to the conference. We were first informed that Edward Snowden would make a Skype appearance, but due to the technical difficulties, Julian Assange did.

Goonswarm meetup – Summer edition


Just wrapped up yet another Goonswarm meetup in Madison. And the nerd-o-meter was off the charts. Seriously. Much fun was had by all. Time was spent playing the Battlestar Galactica board game into the night, drinking, playing Guitar Hero, eating, drinking, playing Cards Against Humanity, drinking, clubbing, eating, and not in that particular order.

If you’ve stopped by Something Awful, you’d think that a group of gamers coming out of that message board would be impossible to motivate towards a single goal. Yet, Goonswarm’s incredible support of incoming pilots, nerd-y sense of humor, and the very culture of Something Awful bring these cats together and organize them in times of action. In EVE, their very name strikes fear into the hearts of the weak.  Over the years, they have successfully executed major spying operations and disbanded powerful corporations (yes, it is a thing in EVE) and participated and won countless battles.

Looking at them, one does not see why and how they have managed to become so powerful. And yet they have… The secret behind their success is that the group is being run like a true business enterprise that would put real-world companies to shame. They are not just in the business of Internet spaceships… They have a financial advisor, logistic coordinator, intel operations officer, recruitment bureau, excellent support new pilots, and to top it all, a great media presence that builds the Goon brand.

As cliche as this might sound (an in many ways contradictory to Goon ways), they have successfully demonstrated that Internet is serious business no two ways about it.





Training in EVE…

After 6 months actively playing EVE, I am finally beginning to understand and enjoy EVE. No game is merely just shoot and kill, but this game in particular requires an elaborate strategy to survive.

After coming back from Iceland I joined a Null Sec (security) training corporation, Open University of Celestial Hardship (OUCH). Their training is much simpler than EVE University, which I personally think is too big to be useful, at least for me. OUCH wants you to attend 9 sessions, pass a Null Sec survival test, have 10 kills, and off you go. That’s a program I can get behind. One caveat: they have rules, like way too many rules. I fly to Low Sec to retrieve a skill book that I purchased and immediately one of the trainers ask me what I am doing there (I guess one of the rules is not to go into Low Sec or Null Sec until you have leveled up??? I am not sure nor can I remember). It is a boot camp some ways, but I guess it has to be.

Immediately, I find out that survival of Null Sec or even Low Sec does not depend merely on having the baddest ship, but also having millions tactical bookmarks in space from which you can gather intel without being jumped on or to which you can escape when you are being pursued. Or organizing your Interface just so so you can switch over to different views in a second depending on the type of task you have at hand, learning about weapons and ships and their uses, and above all knowing your enemy/alliances/friends. This is some real shit, folks.

It took me no time to make friends (did I say friends?) in OUCH and I use another character of mine to join another corp located in Low Sec. Two more days in this new corp and I open another EVE account so I can create dummy characters to scout my way for me to avoid flying into a trap… I start immediately making a sleuth of bookmarks in every Low Sec system I enter… I get in the habit of checking killboards (which tells me who was killed by whom) and systems for activity/kills, monitoring chat channels…I get tons of tips for survival. And I start taking notes, like lot’s of them.

I was told that the learning curve was steep. But this is madness. The game truly cultivates the paranoia in you. I am also currently reading a book called Rules of Victory: How to Transform Chaos and Conflict whose authors are using Sun Tzu’s Art of War to show the reader the road to victory in life. I must confess, this is merely a happy coincidence but I am awestruck by the uncanny parallels between the advice I am getting from my EVE compatriots and  Sun Tzu.

wicked thoughts on media and technology…