What can we learn from abandoned avatars?

Keeping in line with my interest in quitting and non/participation in games, I’m happy to share this new paper I wrote with Suzanne de Castell and Jennifer Jenson. Here we went back to look at an old dataset of avatars created for VERUS. Due to the nature of the study design, these avatars will never be played again by the people who created them. We argue that there is still a wealth of information that can be gleaned from these avatars, even if they have been shelved.

I will be presenting this paper later this summer in Scotland, and eventually it will appear in the Digital Games Research Library.

Digital Detritus: What Can We Learn From Abandoned Massively Multiplayer Online Game Avatars?

ABSTRACT: Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) player data has been used to investigate a variety of questions, ranging from the sociality of small groups, to patterns of economic decision making modeled across entire game servers. To date, MMOG player research has primarily drawn on data (e.g. server-side logs, observational data) collected while players (and their avatars) were actively participating in the gameworld under investigation. MMOGs are persistent worlds where avatars are held in stasis when the player logs out of the game, and this is a feature that allows players to return after an extended absence to “pick up where they left off”. In this paper we explore the sorts of information that can be gleaned by examining avatars after their creators have played them for the last time. Our preliminary findings are that “abandoned” avatars still contain a wealth of information about the people who created them, opening up new possibilities for the study of players and decision making in MMOGs.

EVE is Real, Revisited

A revised version of the paper I co-wrote with 3 other EVE scholars for last year’s DiGRA has been published as part of the latest issue of Well Played.

“EVE is Real: How conceptions of the ‘real’ affect and reflect an online game community” is open access and can be downloaded with the rest of the issue here.

The EVE book has landed!

I had a package waiting for me yesterday… I was surprised to discover it was my author copy of Internet Spaceships are Serious Business! I must say, it is a very pretty book… and it is full of very interesting essays! 😀

I’ve been told our pre-order game has been very strong. Amazon is quoting a release date of March 23, but according to the press’ website it is available now.  Huzzah!

CGSA Reviewing guidelines

In 2009 I was still fairly new to academia. I had collected all the data for my MA thesis and was in the process of analyzing and writing it up. Somehow I stumbled across the CFP for the Canadian Game Studies Association. I wrote an abstract and was accepted (yay!). This would end up being my second conference ever, and it was really intimidating. But once I found the room, Suzanne de Castell was there at the registration table and welcomed me. Everyone I met at the conference was warm, welcoming, and generous with their feedback.  After I gave my presentation, Suzanne asked if I was planning to do a PhD. Well it was more of a “you ARE going to do a PhD”, but anyway…

I went on to finish my MA and then a PhD. And I also became part of the CGSA conference committee.

One of the best parts of being a conference coordinator for the Canadian Game Studies Association is that I’ve had a chance to meet new members and welcome them to our annual conference. This year is our largest year ever (and I’m happy to say that I get to say that EVERY year). We have grown so much that we have had to also grow our reviewer pool. This means that we had to sit down and actually put CGSA’s philosophy down on paper. Since I get a lot of hits to my website looking for CGSA information, I thought I should share our reviewer guidelines. We may do things a bit differently than other organizations, but I’ll always be proud to call CGSA one of my scholarly homes.

CGSA Guidelines for Reviewers

Thank you for agreeing to review for this year’s CGSA conference!

As you are probably well aware, CGSA operates a bit differently then other scholarly organizations. Our mandate is to provide a space (in Canada!) for emerging and established scholars to discuss their research and theories about games (digital and non-digital). Underpinning this is the idea of radical inclusivity.

We ask reviewers to evaluate with a sense of generosity. If you feel like an abstract is underdeveloped or weak in any way, we ask you to provide at least 2-3 actionable items that the author can do to make their next abstract stronger. These can be things such as:

  • Pointing them towards literature that they may have overlooked;
  • A suggestion for how to rephrase their thesis/argument statement to make it clearer;
  • Style improvements (e.g. a more descriptive title);
  • Theoretical frameworks they might find valuable;
  • Anything else you feel the author might find helpful.

Feminist War Games?

Some of the lovely folks associated with the Canadian Game Studies Association and ReFig are hosting a game jam next weekend. Their call for participants asks:

Can a feminist war game exist? War, traditionally the sole purview of men, is an essential site for asking critical questions about masculinist systems, objectifying economies and mediated representations, especially since subjects, objects and agents are all instruments within the ideological narratives that frame the brutal history of armed conflict. Simply including female “warrior” characters in a war game, for example, continues to normalize the mechanism of war while extending its “inclusiveness” to groups that have traditionally been marginalized and victimized by it. However, prototyping complex intersections between mechanisms of war, digital game narrativities, and inclusive feminist values suggests that feminist discourses can be used to denaturalize and reframe narratives of war in spaces of programmed play.

More information can be found here. And there is a video version of the call for participants here.

The EVE book has (almost) landed!

Internet Spaceships Are Serious Business Ready for Pre-Order


At the FDG conference in Raleigh, NC, I met two other PhD students: Marcus Carter and Darryl Woodford. We were all writing about EVE Online, but up until that point in time had not ever met anyone else working on this particular MMOG. On a lunch break we first hatched our plan to write a book. First, we hosted a workshop at the FDG in Greece, then another at DiGRA Atlanta. So many other EVE scholars came forward and we realized that many people had a lot to things to say about internet spaceships.  We wrote a book proposal. Sitting in a brewery in Salt Lake City before heading up the mountain for DiGRA Snowbird, I got the email from University of Minnesota Press that the reviews were positive and they wanted to move forward with publication. And now here we are, with a March 2016 expected release date. This book has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited that it is almost here.



I’m happy to announce that the CFP for the 2016 meeting of the Canadian Game Studies Association is now live: http://gamestudies.ca/conference/

This time around we will be meeting at the University of Calgary from June 1-3 2016 — Go Dinos! I’m excited to be back at the institution where I completed my MA and am looking forward to another great year of exciting Canadian games scholarship.


Dr. Bergstrom!

It has been a very busy September!

I already shared the news on twitter, but I am now Dr. Bergstrom.  The dissertation is done and defended. In the end I only had to fight a very small snake and I’ve already stepped into my new role as a post doc in the PlayCES Lab.

In other news, I recently saw the cover art for Internet Spaceships are Serious Business and it is beautiful. It is hard to believe that the book that started as a conversation around the table at FGD in Raleigh, NC is just about ready to be published. We are doing final copyedits and are on track for a Spring 2016 publication. Exciting news!