Souvik Thursday, April 02, 2009Today, I handed in the final version of my PhD thesis and I've been informed that its fine. Basically, it means that I have no hesitation in calling myself 'Dr Mukherjee'. I wish I were the other kind of doctor though (the NHS kind I mean) because I have an eye infection and my GP does not seem to know what to do. Anyway, I'd rather speak of happier things.
My viva, as ''Ludus ex' readers will remember, took place about two months ago. Before that, I almost went crazy with fear. Mostly, because I was seeing mistakes everywhere in my thesis, pretty much like Lady Macbeth saw blood. A few things helped me retain my sanity. My incessant involvement in the world of Rome: Total War was one. The poetry of Mahendra Solanki, an assortment of pages from randomly picked up novels, vacantly staring at my videogame collection and thinking about whether the passing plane would take me home were among my other distractions. However, the thing to which I owe my sanity the most is QBlog. I'm not sure whether any of you know QBlog (Andrew does, I suspect) but anyone with an interest in videogames should read it. It's Richard Bartle's blog (if you don't know who Richard Bartle is, look him up quickly on google ... otherwise, you might end up being like my GP, which isn't really very nice). I think QBlog is very important for videogame researchers. It talks about Richard's workplace, strange signs in different places, weird experiences in aircrafts, boxes and places he visits. Some of these relate to virtual worlds while some don't; not all of these are connected to videogames. Which is precisely why QBlog is important for videogame researchers: it talks about other things and it finds the fun in even the most humdrum. When, for the umpteenth time you are reading the 88,000 words that you have written on videogames, believe me, a look inside Richard's strangely ordinary world can be the most relaxing of experiences. Even Rome: Total War would put me off if I kept losing territory; QBlog always got me to laugh.
In some ways I feel that if Richard was writing in the time of Dr Johnson, he'd probably be his own Boswell. The academic in me (with my colonial education and Brit Lit background) is usually quite happy when I am reading Bartle's Life of Bartle (To Say Nothing of the Many Other Lives Besides); the prose is lucid and the humour excellent. A few months ago, I commented on the 'style' of game designers and commentators - QBlog definitely scores a lot on this scale. Anyway, I like reading about random boxes, strange hotels in Berlin and how huge ant sculptures will be eating huge ladybird sculptures. Or if you want to know about a certain naughty word that the WoW filters haven't managed to check, QBlog will tell you all about it.
Anyway, have a look for yourself and let me know what you think. Especially if you've read too much theory and want to lighten up. This post has been long overdue but I must say 'thank you QBlog' for relieving all that pre-viva stress and making reading about games fun again - after being terrified of all the 'serious' stuff on gaming that's out there.
'Literature is a combinatorial game that pursues the possibilities implicit in its own material [...] but it is a game that at a certain point is invested with an unexpected meaning' - Italo Calvino