Research Team Introductions - Moses "Operandi" Wolfenstein

mosesoperandimosesoperandi REGISTERED Posts: 22 Developer
edited July 2014 in Science!
Time for research team introductions you say? While, don't mind if I do.

I'm guessing that if you're in this sub-form, you might already know me by name. Come to think of it, since I was in the Kickstarter video, there's a good chance that you not only know my name, but might recognize my soul patch. After all, there was that one time that one redditor said that my soul patch was trying to crawl into my mouth after watching our first video, so clearly even if you don't recognize me in any other way the soul patch is probably known to you. That said, even if you know about the soul patch incident (which I guess you do now), what do you actually know about me? What do I actually know about myself? What does anyone ever really know about themselves...I mean really know?

While, I can't answer those deeper existential questions right now, but I can give you a little bit of background about my role here at Nerd Kingdom, my prior research, and my cats. Seriously, have you noticed that all of the researchers thus far have cats? I don't remember Lefty having a cat, but we'll have to see when he gets around to doing his intro. Still, even if he too has a cat, we should remember that correlation does not imply causation...and even if there were some kind of causal relationship between Nerd Kingdom researchers and cats, what would it even be? I can't answer that question, so I guess I'd better get back to the purpose of this post (to tell you a little bit about myself).

Let's start with how I became connected to the Nerd Kingdom project, shall we? Of course we shall. I've been working with Ino on this crazy idea since it was pretty much just that. Many moons ago, a mutual colleague of ours told us that we had to talk to each other. The moment Ino started telling me that he wanted to create a game that could evolve both through research and the player community, a game where development would ultimately be driven by the community (but where the game could also be used to learn more about games and play), and that this very same game would be guided by a commitment to its own internal science, I was hooked. At first I was one of several individuals serving as a sounding board for getting some kind of a bare bones framework together for how to approach the whole thing. Mostly I provided guidance on two topics: how much support and what sorts of tools we would want to provide for the community as it developed, and what kinds of things we might be able to learn about from creating a game like TUG? I also got pulled into a variety of other design conversations, but that's a story for another time.

Right around the time things really got moving with TUG pre-alpha, I took a job as creative director with a learning games company here in the Madison area (yes, I'm in Wisconsin). I'm actually currently in the process of finishing up with that gig, which is no accident since TUG is now in Beta and that means there's a lot more to do both in terms of research and design. But what sort of research am I planning on doing you might ask?

In theory I'm an educational leadership researcher by training, but because I worked with the Games+Learning+Society research group here in Madison I'm really a games and learning researcher in practice, and because I studied under Rich Halverson at UW-Madison, my training trends less towards education research and more towards learning science. Oh yeah, I've also studied organizational theory and conflict resolution pretty extensively.

What does all of that mean? While, first off it means that I wrote my dissertation on guild leadership in World of Warcraft. There were a number of folks who had posited that leadership learning happens in WoW, but nobody had provided much a of a description of what leadership in WoW actually entails, making it a little hard to figure out what sort of things about leadership people could be learning by managing guilds and leading raids. My dissertation (Leadership at Play) took a hard look at what it is that guild leaders actually do, and while I didn't seek to directly answer the "do leadership capabilities transfer between WoW and other settings", I can say with some surety that the only way an individual can make the jump between leading in a game and leading in another context is if they have some mastery in that other context as well, and the only way that an individual can hope to develop as a leader in game is if they know enough about either the game or the community they're working in to be an effective resource to their fellow players. There's also this whole thing about distributed leadership, but I'm going to save that topic for another post.

What does all of this mean in terms of my research in TUG? While, I'm interested in how player communities develop and how they learn. In the context of TUG, I'm very interested in the system of learning that develops that includes players, developers, modders, the game technology itself, and the rest of the internets. I'm also extremely interested in finding out about what kinds of player organizations develop in and around TUG, and what sorts of activities they engage in both in and around the game.

At the end of the day, I'm mostly trying to help steer the qualitative side of research endeavors in TUG. In order for us to do the most effective possible work both to grow the game and to learn about games and play (and learning), we need to be gathering both the crunchy number data, and the rich descriptive data that can give us a clear sense of what's actually happening, and where things can potentially go. Oh yeah, I also have this mission to enable interested players as researchers, regardless of whether they have a research background, but I'm being patient on that one since there are a lot of mechanics we need to hammer out first before we start getting into anything like embedded tools for player research.

As to my cats, while their names are Bertie and Jeeves, and there are pictures of each of them on my blog somewhere. They are awesome cats, and that's all you get to know about them for now. As to the blog, I've been really bad about updating it over the last year and a half (pretty much since I took the creative director gig), but as I have some time freed up now, I'm hoping to change that. Oh right, and then there's Twitter. You can follow me there (@mosesoperandi), but if you do be warned, there are days and even whole weekends where the only thing I tweet about is flat track roller derby.


  • PuttyPutty REGISTERED, Vakaethei Posts: 24 Golem
    You can follow me there (@mosesoperandi), but if you do be warned, there are days and even whole weekends where the only thing I tweet about is flat track roller derby.

    I keep forgetting to ask if someone you know plays or if you're just an enthusiast. My wife played until the end of last year.
  • mosesoperandimosesoperandi REGISTERED Posts: 22 Developer
    @Putty There are in fact a whole bunch of people I know who play, but that's just a function of the roller derby community ;)

    My girlfriend plays. I won't out her here because I don't want to make it too easy for people to cross stalk us, but I started following Madison roller derby (Mad Rollin Dolls) years before I met her when a good friend of mine started playing.
  • PuttyPutty REGISTERED, Vakaethei Posts: 24 Golem
    Fun! My wife played for TXRD in Austin until we moved out here. Moving from Banked Track to Flat Track was not very fun for her but we watch a lot of flat-track since banked is so rare!

  • mosesoperandimosesoperandi REGISTERED Posts: 22 Developer
    All I can say is that we're all desperately waiting for a WFTDA rules change. I enjoy the strategery of slow derby, but they need to tweak the rules to speed the game back up again.

    Alright, that's enough about roller derby for this thread.
  • GazelleGazelle REGISTERED, Vakaethei Posts: 35 Golem
    Seriously, have you noticed that all of the researchers thus far have cats? I don't remember Lefty having a cat, but we'll have to see when he gets around to doing his intro.

    1) If Lefty doesn't have a cat we need to fix this url=]even if it has to be an honorary cat[/url.
    2) Today I learned NK Research Team is Cat Planet.
  • LinkLink REGISTERED Posts: 62
    Whenever you finish everything needed for the player-based TUG research groups, are you going to post a thread about it? I find that idea to be fascinating.
Sign In or Register to comment.