The User's Games and Gratifications

Organized by Hilde Corneliussen
University of Bergen, Norway
[Home Page]

Abstract: In discussions of online culture, a lot of energy has been put into studying the texts as well as the effects of computerised texts. Questions about use are rarely asked: How are these things actually used, how do they fit into the lives of the users and what are the rewards for the user in the use? It's a deceptively simple question, but the answer is complex, as "use" has become an important part of daily life; the culture of the "real world" as much as the "virtual world."

In this panel, we look at the users and not the text, except when considering texts the object of the users' development and utility. Online texts are perceived by the human mind through the use of technology and interpreted within a real-world context. From this perspective, how can hypertext, for example, give meaning without the user? With the widening of audience for online texts and the popularity of the net, the borders between human perception and technological interpretation are slipping. The mass of users do not make a sharp distinction between online and offline. To the normal user of online communication, it's just a tool, a very sharp and flexible one, but still a tool which is used for different ends, giving the user some kind of gratification.

To move on we have to explore the users and their use of computers. Our question is what new activities are growing out of the human utilisation of the computer, and how we can study this use. This panel is dedicated to how this research can be done, discussing methods and research tools to find how people use computers.

Panel participants:

Hilde Corneliussen: "Why consider gender in computing? But then again, how can we not?" The principal claim in this paper is that the study of digital culture should always involve the human perspective. It uses gender as an example of one social aspect that makes a difference in computing and digital culture, both historically and in a present-day Norwegian context. The significance of gender in computing will be explored both theoretically and methodically through the theory of discourse.

Torill Mortensen: "Playing with Players." Studying the use of computer games, the game needs to be realised somehow, to be changed from not accessed data into a format that permits it to be studied. The study of a game demands participation, as the rules, the functions and the many different possibilities for uses of the game unfold as it is experienced rather than observed. This paper describes a way of approaching and studying the event of a game, through participation, textual analysis and interviews with players and creators.

Janne CH Bromseth: "Values and style in online discussion cultures." Based on a study of two Norwegian electronic discussion lists, this paper will look at the need for studying discussion groups within a larger social and cultural context. What values for interaction are created in different contexts, and do these values challenge or reproduce the American "liberal/anarchic" ideology of interaction?

About the Presenters:

Hilde Corneliussen is a Doctoral Candidate at the Department of Humanistic Informatics at the University of Bergen, Norway.

Torill Mortensen is a Doctoral Candidate at Department of Humanistic Informatics at the University of Bergen, Norway, and a lecturer at the Media Department, Volda University College, Norway.

Janne CH Bromseth is a Doctoral Candidate at Centre for Feminist and Gender Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway.