Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winter Vacation

After somehow surviving the culture of perfection in Taiwanese academia this past term, I will be retreating to Thailand for a little R & R for December. My on the beach light reading list will include Coming of Age in Second Life and The Good Women of China. I just cannot bring myself to leave school completely behind. I will be on a beach most of the time however, so new posts will likely have to wait until January...unless I break down and bring my computer with me...I haven't decided yet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gamer Shame Follow-Up

So as you can see, no one plays video games in Taipei. No wait, only children play video games in Taipei...I think that is the story...yep, video games are only for kids.

This phenomenon is not indicative of Taiwan. There is a nice post about Gamer Shame/Pride from Terra Nova (a great game blog for anyone who is not familiar with it).

Friday, November 20, 2009

Embodying Taipei

It has been a little over 3 months now since I first arrived in Taipei. As I look down lost in thought I notice that my bare feet are calloused.

May calves are covered in scars. The mosquitoes have been feasting, and though I know I should not scratch the bites, I find myself mindlessly doing so while watching tv or caught up in conversation. I have scratched the skin raw and round little patches now mark the spots between fresh bites. (Fresh bites which are only left alone at this moment because both of my hands are occupied on my keyboard.)

A little higher up, just below my knee, is a long reddish brown line a little over an inch long and maybe a quarter inch thick. This is how I learned to be careful while using a shower with exposed hot water pipes.

At the waist my clothes just do not fit the same. There is not a scale available for me to use, but the loose fit of the clothes I brought from home tells me all I need to know. I do not know how this one happened. I feel like my days here revolve around food.

Continuing upwards I used to have a long mane of brown hair. I have always preferred long hair, but the heat of August in Taipei had driven me to chop off my locks. I went from soft and flowing to something reminiscent of Aeon Flux.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gamer Shame

Apparently, no one plays video games in Taipei.

There are games and accessories sold and advertised everywhere, but I have, in 2 months met 1 person who will admit to ever having played a video game.

It is just not cool here...or more accurately, it is not proper. It goes against the work ethic. Its not just games either. People also tell me they don't go out to bars or clubs either.

I'll admit though, that I have yet to actually get into a cyber cafe (maybe I will have more luck at one of those) but in my defense, it took me a long time to find one. They seem to be hidden, but once I knew what to look for I saw them everywhere.

From the street all I can see is a small doorway. During the day I must have passed dozens of them without ever noticing, but it was nighttime that finally clued me into what I was looking for. At night the doorways get lit up, sometimes in neon lights, and this is what drew my attention into a small doorway where I recognized the mural of a Night Elf leading people down a narrow staircase.

As it turns out there are a number of them near my home, but I just couldn't see them before. Now that I know where to go it won't be long before I succumb to the Night Elfs alluring eyes and follow her down into the depths of the Internet.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"I'm not Afraid of Death Anymore."

When I first came to Taipei I met an awesome American girl who would yell "DEATH!" every time a scooter or cab was approaching us. This happened frequently as it were, as the traffic in Taipei is freaking scary - and the cabs and scooters are the worst. After sometime all of the foreigners coming through the hostel began to refer to cabs and scooters as "death."

Last week, I was walking through the middle of a smaller street (smaller by Taipei standards) with this girl when 2 scooters came towards us and swerved around us. Meanwhile, we had stopped (still in the middle of the street) to watch as 2 other scooters came within inches of hitting each other right in front of us.

Neither of us even flinched. My friend turned to me after the scene was finished and said, "You know that you have acclimated when the scooters and cabs no longer phase you. I am not afraid of death anymore."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I was Supposed to Start this in August?!?

I have been in Taipei since the end of August, and although I promised everyone back home to blog and update Facebook is my first blog post.

It literally took me 5 weeks to get adjusted to the point that I could even begin to focus on anything other than getting by. Of course this wasn't all just due to culture shock (though there was that too). Jet-lag, extreme heat, the break up of a 6 year relationship, and people back home wanting more attention than I was capable of giving all came into play. The Internet in the hostel was temperamental (its fixed now :) the academic culture of perfection, and the time consuming element of trying to communicate in a language I am not fluent in also contributed.

That being said, I have no complaints. I love Taipei and I am glad I decided to come here. I'd stay forever, but I think finishing my PhD may require me returning to Milwaukee at some point ...

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I fully realize the biased and for-entertainment-only value of Penn & Teller's series BullSh*t!

That being said, the episode on video game violence that aired this last Thursday was just as balanced as all of the arguments I have heard from the anti-video game camp.

I cannot make any claims on the effects of violent video games on people, because I have not done the research; but as researcher myself, I can see the fatal flaw in all of the arguments that have been presented to me. The flaw is phrases that all begin, "Well kids who play video games ..." followed by some gross generalization. They all what now? Millions of people play video games every day, and yet it has become acceptable to generalize about what gamers are like.

Now let's think about this... if someone made that claim about a gender, they would be sexist; or about a race they would be racist. Therefore, I think we need a name for these anti-video game people (something more eloquent than anti-video game people). I like the term technophobe, but maybe that is a little to general....I don't want to generalize like they do.

Friday, July 3, 2009

What Do You Do for Fun?

I have written about the false (or should I say inaccurate?) dichotomy between work and play before, and of course I have read a lot on this idea seeing as Thomas is my adviser; but it wasn’t until recently that the idea of work and play being one and the same hit my personal life.

I was chatting with someone I met professionally (but we were not chatting about work or school so there it is again – was this fun or networking?) and he asked me what I like to do for fun. Simple question right?

Well let’s see, I play WoW – but that is with a guild of other game researchers. I follow a few game related websites – but I do games research. I chat online – but mostly with other researchers. I like to read – but mostly academic books. Sure, I read some fiction works and I like to watch movies, but I also generally like fantasy and Sci-Fi both of which easily tie back to my research themes and serve to keep me up-to-date with what the people in the community are talking about as well.

So, what do I do for fun? I guess I work for fun.

Or, I have hit the jackpot and I have fun for work.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Promised Pictures

This picture was taken by David (whom I don't have a photo of unfortunately, because my camera phone is terrible). From the left that is Mark, me, Juho, and Samuel at Times Square, in the rain, on my last night in NY.

After 3 days of the conference I was dead tired by this point, but I couldn't leave without seeing Times Square. I think I wore out the men too dragging them around that night. Somehow we lost Samuel, but he made it back to the hostel, so it's all ok.

Honestly, I didn't want to leave. The conference was amazing! (Thank-you to Dan Hunter and all the other wonderful people who made this possible.) I met too many way cool people to be able to list them all here, including many guildmates from TrN. The presentations were all very interesting, and a few of them even gave me some ideas to consider while I am checking out Taiwan. (My roommate Sarah was also very cool - it was like a 3 day slumber party!) Unfortunately, I had to miss out on the backchannel, but I will be fixing that by getting a netbook before my next conference.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Greetings from Milwaukee!

Ok, so this site is under construction atm - obviously. I just recently came back from the State of Play 6 conference in NYC and I am busy! Pics will follow soon. Really though, this blog won't be updated regularly until fall; at which time I will be using this site to share my research from Taiwan.