Today was the first day of class here at IU. I’m back to teaching the dreadfully dull public speaking, but only for the semester. At the end of the first day of class, I always go around and have the students say what they know more about than anyone else in this room and, of course, I always say, “I’m Bryan-Mitchell Young and I know more about videogames than anyone else in this room.” I always get an interesting response, mainly in the form of people asking me what games I play. Today, however, I said that I do ethnography on videogame players and then asked if anyone knew what ethnography was and in both classes at least one person asked if it had anything to do with videogames. Damn kids. Like it’s my job to teach them or something… oh, wait!
Since it was the first day of class, it was short and I found myself having more free time on my time than normal. Of course I filled it with playing Urban Dead. Or rather, I spent it checking out if my character was OK. Since you have a limited number of moves a day and build up one move every half hour, I don’t want to waste them, but I want to make sure my character hasn’t been attacked by any zombies. So we talk about pervasive gamines, but I wonder if this is some sort of pervasive games, but it seems like we the players have made this game pervasive. We check on the safety of our characters, how secure our safehouse it (and no I won’t tell you where it is, you damn zombie sympathizer!). Someone set up a wiki where people update intelligence and strategy. We’ve taken to looking for the websites and messageboards of other players to see their strategy and working with other groups of human survivors.
Then I think about the gamers I wrote a paper about last year that played Counter-Strike and Starcraft. They would email each other about gaming. They would plan ahead on when they could play. Is that any less pervasive? What about the time I spent looking online for Euchre strategies? Or for a good walkthrough for Max Payne?
I understand that pervasive games are typically about fictional web sites and fictional emails, but are those types of games any less pervasive, any less than the way I am playing Urban Dead? I don’t think so.