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Making Virtual Worlds: Games and the Human for a Digital Age

A talk by Thomas Malaby at IDEA 2009

About the Talk

September 15, 2009 7:00 AM

MaRS Centre, South Tower, 101 College Street, Suite 100 Toronto, ON Canada M5G 1L7

MaRS Centre, South Tower, 101 College Street, Suite 100 Toronto, ON Canada M5G 1L7

The rise of virtual worlds (World of Warcraft, Everquest) has prompted new questions about the status of games in a digital age. Thomas Malaby’s research at Linden Lab, makers of Second Life, suggests that game design and game development practice are becoming a key part of how some high tech companies operate. Instead of relying on top-down and procedural decision-making, these organizations contrive complex and game-like systems that promise to generate legitimate decisions from the ground up

But there are ideological commitments behind these efforts, with their roots in post-WWII American ideas about technology, authority, and they include even a rather peculiar notion of what being human is all about. In this transformation of the workplace – and our online experience – the human is imagined as a gamer of a particular kind. Malaby considers what this way of thinking about the human, one that saturates many of the institutions currently architecting digital society, tells us about the changing status of technology, creativity, and authority for a digital age.

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