We’ve come to the end of the semester, and it did feel like an exceptionally long one. Perhaps, that’s the way it always is when in the field, even when the field is “virtual.” This is the second semester I’ve spent with students in Tyria, and we are very grateful to ArenaNet for their donation of game codes which allowed us to waive lab fees for our students. For college students, every little bit helps. Additionally, we are grateful to Dr. John Hopson who dropped in to discuss user research with our students, giving them unique insight into the process and awareness of some of the issues that may arise when designing games, especially persistent worlds.
The people of Guild Wars 2 have been extremely helpful and friendly. Seconds after my students had typed, “Hello, I’m a student researcher. . .” they were flooded with offers of help or offers to be interviewed. When we held lectures in Lion’s Arch, though the lectures themselves were in our guild chat, passersby, would always stop and watch, curious as to what we were doing, as it was clear, something not quite of the norm was going on among our circle.
This course was unique, due to its participant nature, and while it had some aspect of lecture, many of the lessons were referred to amidst adrenaline pumping action of dragon slaying or keep raiding. It was not meant to be an Indiana Jones-like experience (a myth we try to stomp out in anthropology), but in this type of environment when danger lurks around every corner, and lessons must be paused to slay whatever evil has creeped around the corner, it simply cannot be helped.
These sorts of activities are inevitably going to form a bond, so it is with great sadness that I say goodbye to these students with whom I spent so much time this semester. They will truly be missed. While they may laugh, I do mean it when I say they are all my favorite students. You can have more than one! And I think I'm somewhere up to around twenty-five or so, but I mean it with all of my heart. It will be strange for me to return to Tyria and not see their gamertags on the screen, but since Tyria is a fairly common place for me to reside, I do hope they will stop in and visit me now and again.
So, what’s next for me? I guess, I’m a lone ethnographer now that I’m student free. It’ll be a somewhat lonely existence. I’m not sure where I’ll go next. They say you can’t go home, but perhaps I’ll head there anyway. Keep an eye on MMOGology to see where I journey next.