Monday, December 22, 2008

Student-Faculty Research update #1

Part 1: Sociology Research

As some of you know, I've received a $2100 dollar grant from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, to conduct research with the Sociology department. I'll be researching the transformation of instrumental to affective relationships between players in Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games (MMOs). In simpler terms, I'm looking at how player relationships within a game shift from being mostly about the game (getting loot, completing quests, etc.) to placing a higher degree of importance on relationships with fellow players. Where these transformations are observed, I'll be analyzing what might be responsible for those changes.

Conducting this research is a far cry from playing video games and taking notes. I'll be trolling the internet for blogs written by players of MMOs, gather about 20 quality blogs that meet my criteria, then read through them, and develop a system of codes for analyzing what is being said in them. From there, I code the data, and analyze it to draw conclusions. It's quite a time consuming process, but I get to study video games, so I find the topic interesting.

My last semester was incredible busy, so I didn't get much work done on it, and must now get cranking over the winter break so I meet deadlines in the spring semester. Right now, I'm at the phase where I find blogs and copy/paste them into word documents, so the data is safe if the sites should go down, and so I can manipulate the posts (add my coding, notes, etc). This is by far the most boring part of the research, as it's hours and hours of surfing followed by even more hours of copying and pasting. I made some OK progress on that today, but an issue with my computer caused me to lose an hour and a half of work, and I thus lost all motivation to keep working. I didn't get nearly as much done as I wanted to, and sense that I'll have some long hours of work to do on this in January.

Part 2: The Daily Achievement notes

Continuing Operation Jedi, I played a little Unreal Tournament III. That game is seriously one of the best shooters on the 360, and it's tragic that the game is virtually dead on Xbox Live. At least I can play against bots, so I'll always be able to get a game going, even if human competition is lacking. As much as I love the game, the achievement list is rubbish, I think, so I love knocking them down and not having to worry about them any more. If I can get to 850 total, I'd be happy enough. 500 ranked wins would take an eternity to boost (and can't be done legit if nobody plays), and I won't get a ranked win on every game type for that same reason. Like the Back of my Hand is also too much of a chore to bother with.

I also put some time into Eternal Sonata. While I've been pretty good about finishing Western-style RPGs, I've been garbage at completing JRPGs. I have to finish Eternal Sonata, Lost Odyssey, and Blue Dragon. Even if I don't get all the points, I want to get to the end credits, and finish these before picking up Infinite Undiscovery, Tales of Vesperia, Last Remnant, or (next year) Star Ocean. I've put in about 18 hours into the game at this point, for a measly 80 points... I love the game, but its points are waaaaay too back-loaded. I'm at chapter 6 now, and want to finish it, and get through the second play to get the rest of the points, by the end of January.

I also spent a little time in L4D and Gears 2, but nothing major happened there worth writing about. At the conclusion of Monday Night Football (Go Packers! Help put the Vikings in the playoffs!), I'll be spending some more time with Eternal Sonata. I highly recommend the game, and it's probably not too expensive at this point. Just don't expect the points to come quickly.


  1. The problem with Unreal is it hasnt changed much since the original Unreal Tornament, its the same reason quake has gone down the pan.

  2. If it ain't broke, don't fix it? The game has had universally positive reviews, and provides a load of maps, vehicles, etc. I think it's the complete package. Maybe I just like to kick it fast and furious old-school style with shiny new graphics more than most people. Maybe the year delay from the PC/PS3 launch killed it on the system, or the removal of user-generated content.