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Jane McGonigal, Department of Performance Studies at UC Berkeley

Why I Love Bees, or, a Massively-Scaled Ludic Worldview




March 14, 2005; 60 Minutes; Video

Jane McGonigal will discuss her firsthand experiences designing, directing and performing in the supergaming genre. She proposes that massively scaling digital communities is not only possible, but that scaling leads to the emergence of important changes in our understanding of the network, of the possibility of digital community, and indeed of "community" itself.

The massively-scaled ludic worldview is a design imperative for social software engineers, game developers, network designers and all the other architects of digital community: more, more, more play and players.

Why more? "The more the better" - players experience phenomenological pleasure in being part of a much larger, co-present whole. "More is different" - unexpected things happen when you scale up. "More is needed" - to become exponentially more powerful, to pass the coveted threshold to "super," you need to connect as many individual parts as possible. These three tenets comprise the more, more, massively more connectivity she dreams of for playful network communities in the today's new media landscape. Massively more is a vision of digital social networks designed and deployed to produce more pleasure, more emergence, and more superpower through a massive scaling of gamer communities.

This vision flies in the face of one of social software's favorite conventional wisdoms: digital communities don't scale well. But recent San Francisco-based cluster of pervasive play and performance practices - the urban superhero adventure the Go Game, flash mobs, flash mob supercomputing, and the flash mob gaming missions in the massively-multiplayer alternate reality game I Love Bees – suggest otherwise. Together, these experiments in massively-scaled, public collaboration comprise the avant-garde of an emerging constellation of network practices that are both ludic, or game-like, and spectacular - that is, intended to generate an audience. She calls this tactical combination of network-based play and spectacle supergaming.

Jane McGonigal will discuss her firsthand experiences designing, directing and performing in the supergaming genre. She proposes that massively scaling digital communities is not only possible, but that scaling leads to the emergence of important changes in our understanding of the network, of the possibility of digital community, and indeed of "community" itself.

The massively-scaled ludic worldview is a design imperative for social software engineers, game developers, network designers and all the other architects of digital community: more, more, more play and players.

Why more? "The more the better" - players experience phenomenological pleasure in being part of a much larger, co-present whole. "More is different" - unexpected things happen when you scale up. "More is needed" - to become exponentially more powerful, to pass the coveted threshold to "super," you need to connect as many individual parts as possible. These three tenets comprise the more, more, massively more connectivity she dreams of for playful network communities in the today's new media landscape. Massively more is a vision of digital social networks designed and deployed to produce more pleasure, more emergence, and more superpower through a massive scaling of gamer communities.

This vision flies in the face of one of social software's favorite conventional wisdoms: digital communities don't scale well. But recent San Francisco-based cluster of pervasive play and performance practices - the urban superhero adventure the Go Game, flash mobs, flash mob supercomputing, and the flash mob gaming missions in the massively-multiplayer alternate reality game I Love Bees – suggest otherwise. Together, these experiments in massively-scaled, public collaboration comprise the avant-garde of an emerging constellation of network practices that are both ludic, or game-like, and spectacular - that is, intended to generate an audience. She calls this tactical combination of network-based play and spectacle supergaming.