Tecnologie e Società


Edward Castronova



I'm writing briefly to notify you of a conference taking place this fall on the campus of Indiana University.

On September 29 and 30th, a selected group of academics, game designers, and other experts will convene to develop paradigms for using synthetic worlds in basic university research. For example: the group may decide that the lowest hanging fruit involves using massively multiplayer games to study the spread of viruses in human populations. Or such games could be used to study terrorism or Shakespeare or technology or any of a number of other subjects. We all know the technology has potential in countless fields. The conference objective is to determine where to start.

The experts have been charged not only to generate projects, but also to examine and report how such projects could be funded, what sort of intellectual property they would produce, how valuable that property would be, and which agencies or companies or organizations would have the greatest interest in it. I personally plan to use the conference output as a roadmap for my own future research in this area.

The conference also has a new format, and will be called a ludium. In a ludium, the participants develop their ideas in the course of a live-action game, to whose victor will go prizes and prestige. The strategy here is to erase the boundary between work and play, enhancing both entertainment and productivity at the same time. To my knowledge this strategy has never before been attempted at an academic conference.

I'm writing this to the list because, although the live-action discussion element of the conference consists only of invited experts, their results will be presented in an open forum on Saturday, October 1. Attendance at this forum is open to the public at the cost of a registration fee. Those who participate on Saturday will also be invited to a luncheon with the ludium participants as well as the awards ceremony, a mingling session, and exhibits.

The members of this listserv represent an inner circle of sorts, a group of people with whom I have had direct contact and who share, to a greater or lesser degree, an interest in this topic. In respect of this interest, I wanted to extend an invitation to register for the Saturday sessions to this list before announcing it to the general public. There being only 40 seats, I would hope that the folks on this list who are very interested would be able to secure a seat for themselves, before they sell out (which of course they may or may not do).

You can learn more about the conference, and register, here:

Those of you who are members of the media are urged to follow the link on the conference web site to obtain press passes. Please be advised that media may be admitted on a standing room only basis or not at all, depending on how much space we have.

If you're a member of a company or organization that would like to be listed as a sponsor of this event or mount an exhibit at it, the site above also has links for Sponsors.

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