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Lambdamoo: Imagination and Anonymity

The first time I ever logged into Lambdamoo, I had the same expectation I had with any other video games: If it wasn’t Madden then it was not relevant. It was to my surprise that I actually found it to be enjoyable. You see, what sets Lambdamoo apart from most typical video or online games is that it is entirely text based. There are no images, no sounds, and no pre-determined arrangement of objectives that need to be completed. Lambdamoo works so that you are not given a set scene, but rather you get full creative control to envision the game in any way that you choose.

The game was pretty difficult at the start. It took me some time to figure out how to properly type in the commands, and figuring out how to exit the closet was an even trickier task. After about 20 minutes of frustration, I finally got out and started to feel my mind drift. The screen may have told me what was going on, but it was my imagination that truly painted the picture of what was going on in my head. The experience was truly different from the typical online or video game because there were no set guidelines or restraints. This is, while being frustrating at times, really helped to enhance the experience. The Anonymity of the game also expanded on the gaming experience.

Lambdamoo is allows you to communicate with others anonymously with no objective. In the modern age of gaming, through outlets such as Xbox Live or World Of War Craft, people are given the ability to play and communicate with friends or random people to complete a given task. Now, with Lambdamoo, there is no set task. People are just present and any interaction can be whatever we make them out to be. This can be both helpful and harmful.

The problem with Anonymity is that some people use this as a way to express a more crude and offensive side to their personality. According to Solove’s article The Virtues of Anonymity, we see how “people can be free to express unpopular ideas and be critical of people in power without risking retaliation or opprobrium.” This can lead to offensive things being said, which creates a harmful environment.

Now, Solove’s article also states that , “The loss of anonymity might make many people more civil, but it might also chill a lot of valuable expression.” While it is true that anonymity may cause problems, it also allows for this creative expression that we see in Lambdamoo, were two complete strangers being able to interact in any way they choose. The fact of the matter is that, as Solove states, we must find a balance between too much anonymity and not enough anonymity.

Questions:

Does Lambdamoo provide us with enough Anonymity to be civil? Does it give to much anonymity, thus creating a harmful environment?

Do games such as Lambdamoo, that have a high level of Anonymity, provide users with a “better” gaming experience? Does it make the gaming experience “worse”? If so, why do you believe this to be true?

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Not in Kansas anymore…..

My experience in lambdamoo was an interesting one. Like mostly everyone else, I found it rather difficult to navigate. Well, I found it really difficult to do much of anything. I began in the coat closet as Khaki_Guest and started to try typing things so that I could get out. Unfortunately, none of my commands seemed to be working. I couldn’t figure out how to “go” anywhere. I was frustrated by my inability to navigate the game but I also decided that the color khaki was insufficient in really representing my online personality. So, I quit the game.

I did a little research on how to do things (say words, smile, wink, etc.). Armed with what little info I could gather, I logged back in and re-entered the coat closet, this time as Lavender_Guest (much more suiting). The other “guests” in the coat closet waved to me, and I gave myself an internal high-five when I was able to wave back. Ecru_Guest and Blue_Guest seemed to be talking to each other, so I asked how to leave the closet. Ecru_Guest asked me where I wanted to go:

 

You say, “Paris would be nice, or anywhere really. I need to leave this godforsaken closet I feel like r kelly”

Ecru_Guest [to Lavender_Guest]: try @go #40895

Blue_Guest [to Ecru_Guest]: oooh, you’re good.

You say, “okay thank you”

Ecru_Guest smiles.

Extremely happy that someone helped me, I typed the instructions and was off to Paris. The page said that I was outside, it was raining and I was on a bike. There was a café nearby and some stairs across the rue. However, try as I might (and I tried a lot), I still couldn’t figure out what to do. I couldn’t “go” anywhere, no directions worked, and I couldn’t interact with any of the objects in the area. It was a tough decision: do I quit and go back to the closet where I would be reassigned a potentially boring name (Tan? Slate?) or do I remain stranded; spending the final moments of my lambdamoo life shouting questions into the lonely rain. Just then, a friend appeared!

Ecru_Guest is here.

You say, “how do i interact with my surroundings?”

You say, “thank you so much for helping me”

Ecru_Guest says, “I don’t think there’s much to interact with in this room…

other than myself, of course. :)”

Ecru_Guest says, “some rooms have objects that u can do things with, but I

don’t know about this one”

You say, “haha okay I kept getting an error message. What is your favorite

place in lambdamoo?”

Ecru_Guest then gave me instructions on how to follow him (I’m just assuming it’s a him) and we ended up in a place called the Formal Gardens. The description was really cool, there were specific directions, and you could even pick flowers! Ecru_Guest and I sat on a bench, and I was really pumped to have made a friend in this virtual space. We walked around the rest of the house and ended up on a deck. Ecru_Guest went into the bathroom, and I followed him.

Ecru_Guest was a little weirded out I followed him to the bathroom and told me to wait for him back on the deck. When he came out, he said the bathroom was all mine now. I was very confused why he felt the need to go to the bathroom in a virtual world, but decided it wasn’t worth potentially offending my new friend. Ecru_Guest continued to teach me how to do actions, join specific people, etc.

Then things got a bit weird.

Ecru_Guest told me to follow them to the “Pool Hall.” I did, and we ended up in this place that sounded like a very dingy bar with a few pool tables. In the description, it told me how to ask for instructions for this room. I typed the command, and it gave me the list of interactions. The interactions seemed completely different from the room’s description.

The interactions were for restraining someone to a four-post bed or chaining different body parts to the ceiling. It also said how to free yourself using a safeword.

Chains and safewords??? Can I just go back to the garden?? This was somewhere I really did not want to be.

Ecru_Guest essentially wanted me to “utilize” the room’s interactions. I decided I was decently creeped out by the proposition and decided to exit the game.

It was interesting to see what Cherny had said about interations in MUDs first-hand, through waving, smiling, and what not. I liked that I felt like I was traveling in lambdamoo and was unsure how to appropriately interact with other users. I can see how lambdamoo is a platform of interactions that some people enjoy, but I can’t say that it’s for me. It is nice that you can go different places without a concern for safety. In real life I would never follow a stranger to a house or a dingy poolroom, but in the game there aren’t many risks.

Though I was creeped out by my interaction with Ecru_Guest, the game seems to be an environment where many different people can find their niche. If there is a niche for me in lambdamoo, it seems that my confusion in how to navigate the game will prevent me from ever finding it.

Ella Henning

Mark and the Seven Dwarfs

I grew up racing home after school with my brother so we could both hop on and play Runescape together.  Yes, I was that kid and I’m sure many others of you were as well.  While I was only seven at the time, that is all I really I know about virtual spaces online.  Then there is LambdaMoo. LambdaMoo was an entirely different experience because unlike the experience I had when I played with my brother, everything in LambdaMoo was entirely user generated.  The readings from the week talk a lot about communities online and the entire LambdaMoo game is essentially a community project, much like how we have community gardens or murals.  Every aspect of the game (or world is maybe what I should be calling it) was so detailed down to the very tiniest of things.  That is just how much time and effort the creators spent developing every unique spot of the game. 

While on my journey through LambdaMoo I spent most of my time in an underground tunnel (after I figured out how to get out the linen closet and then the house (finally)).  The description of the tunnel was pretty bare with it reading “it is dark and musty. You can go north or south” or eventually it just saying “it is too dark to see anything” so I was forced to just type commands in and eventually find my way.  What I found to be incredibly unique however was when I fell down a hole and wander into a magic room where there were scrolls and such.  In the corner of the room there was a spiral stair case taking me farther and farther until I was with dwarves.  What was so unique and interesting about this was that I just went from fumbling around in a closet to being with dwarves just by exiting a house.  I believe this shows the ability for anyone to be anything or go anywhere they want in a game like LambdaMoo.  If you always wanted to explore underground caves with dwarves, why not make it happen?

dwarfs

Tumblr-topia: Inspiring or Distracting our Dreams?

I’m about to make a huge confession, one that shocks and slightly disturbs even myself:

I have had a tumblr account since 2009. In other words, roughly five years.

I’ve given it up, come crawling back, followed and unfollowed as I’ve grown up. Yet here I am, still scrolling into my 20’s, checking it each day.

To explain how this revelation feels: have you ever binged on a TV series, then actually counted the amount of hours of your life you spent on it? Usually its a gasp-worthy, ungodly amount.

It wasn’t time wasted if you enjoyed it, right? That’s my hope, at least.

Just like Boyd questions, are we the ones using technology to make magic, or are we simply falling under its spell?

I puzzle this while I feel my eyes glaze over as I let the pictures scroll by. Picturesque Spanish sunsets, an pastel colored Monet painting, a Parks & Rec gif, pretty eye makeup, a Fleetwood Mac song, a Ronald Dahl quote,  and so many clothes burn into my eyes for a slight second, quickly replaced by the next image in succession.

The utopian ideals are all there. A community that each can share their personal “aesthetic” with others, reveling what they want, being who they want, etc. Sometimes I look at my blog and find such inner peace, seeing a place with so many things I like or pictures I find pleasing, all in one place. My utopia.

But is it?

First off, my attention span is shot. I’m not positive tumblr is to blame, but it doesn’t seem like to far a leap to correlate five years of endless scrolling through images to my inability to focus on a non-moving computer screen for long.

Moreover, when I find myself being asked in surveys or job questionaires “what do you like?” I sometimes will browse through my tumblr if I feel especially stumped.

Have I been told what to like? Worse, do I need a social media site to remind me of the things I like?

A surprising voice reiterated some fears I had about this and other similar blogging platforms, rapper Drake, in an interview with Source magazine:

“I’m really scared for my generation, you know. The thing that scares me most is Tumblr. I hate what Tumblr has become….Instead of kids going out and making their own moments, they’re just taking these images and living vicariously through other people’s moments. It just kills me. Then you’ll meet them and they’re just the biggest turkey in the world. They don’t actually embody any of those things. They just emulate. It’s scary man, simulation life that we’re living. It scares me.”

Is this the end of individual experiences? Will I constantly be vying between a state of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and my need to stay connected, not missing one piece of media that passes my screen?

I hope not. Keeping my need to tumblr (i’m assuming this would be the verb form) strictly to bedtime allows me to continue living my life and then maybe blog about it the next evening.

As for everyone else, I guess only time will tell. Ask me in another five years.

 

#Hashtag

I have always been fond of Twitter. I made my twitter in my junior year of high school. I was pressured into making a Facebook when the hype of MySpace died down, and I never really enjoyed using it and I rarely ever posted. One of my close friends introduced me to Twitter when she was reading tweets from a parody account. I remember hysterically laughing and immediately wanting to make an account so that I could follow more accounts.

I made a Twitter and I was lost. I did not understand how to use the hashtag and what the purpose even was. I was just so mind-blown by the fact that I was able to follow my favorite music artists and authors to see what they were up to and what kind of inspirational posts they had to share with the world.

I currently have been really interested in learning about ISIS and what is happening in Syria and obviously, American journalists and Syrian victims. I follow a lot of foreign correspondents on Twitter and I think it’s really beneficial because I feel like I’m getting a lot more info, that is much more honest than I am when I watch the news. I think a lot of people think that it’s crazy that I trust people on Twitter over the internet but my question to them is, how can you decide who has more credibility when we are constantly lied to by the media?

Over the summer I went on a trip across Europe and I used twitter all of two times in a month. I had the ability because of wifi and hotspots but I was too busy exploring and when I got home I’d be so tired that I wouldn’t have the energy to check my social media. This made a big impact on me because prior to this, I would be very active on Twitter, as it was my second favorite form of social media, following Tumblr, and I would post on average about 3 thin tweets a day. Now, I just scroll through my feed and if I see an interesting BuzzFeed or UpWorthy article, I’ll retweet it or favorite it. Sometimes it gets really difficult because I start getting bored easily throughout an article and I constantly tell myself, “Oh I can just come back to this.” I could really relate to Nicholas in his article “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”when he said “My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.” I would be really interested in knowing if the internet has had the opposite effect on people and if it makes them read much more closely and absorb everything?

I hardly ever make my own tweets because I’ve developed a new mentality that I only speak (tweet in this case) if what I have to say will improve the silence.

Juna Skrami

“JumpStart” Into the Internet

Growing up with a dad who was a computer software engineer, I was given my shiny new screen when I was nothing more than 5 years old. My parents presented me with each “JumpStart” game beginning in Pre-K all the way until 6th grade.

frontscreen-2

http://www.sonic.net/mnitepub/pccafe/reviews/jskindergarten/jskindergarten.html

Although initially uninterested in the games, I began to play more and more when my younger sister was born. In my eyes, it was something that I could do that she couldn’t and as an older sister it made me feel like I had a special gift.

From there my interest truly peaked with the invention of AIM, a way for my middle school friends and I to talk almost instantly while at home and before we all had our own phones. Looking back I realized this developed into almost an addiction for our generation. We would run home from school and immediately sign on, trying to talk to those that we left not even an hour ago. What was your away message and who were your top friends? These were the things that we cared about when on the internet, not fully using it to the potential that it had.

The first time that I really had my moment of clarity with new media and the impact it has was when I started my own blog. Starting out as nothing more than a way to vent about my problems, I realized that those who were reading it appreciated not only what I was writing but also the bluntness in how I was talking. What started as a fashion blog, resulted in a fast and easy way for me to reach thousands of people in an instant and communicate with them through an ongoing conversation between us.

It became more personalized than that of an essay and in a way it resembled the way that I used to AIM my friends when I was younger.

It’s crazy to think that something so personal as talking to my friends is the way that I now communicate with over 1,000 strangers. Maybe nothing is really “just ours” anymore, and maybe now that’s how it’s always going to be

 

Caitlin Pilgrim