Theses Doctoral

Rulemaking as Play: A Transdisciplinary Inquiry about Virtual Worldmaking

Qi, Zhenzhen

In the age of computing, we rely on software to manage our days, from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep. Software predicts the future based on actualized data from the past. It produces procedures instead of experiences and solutions instead of care. Software systems tend to perpetuate a normalized state of equilibrium. Their application in social media, predictive policing, and social profiling is increasingly erasing diversity in culture and identity. Our immediate reality is narrowing towards cultural conventions shared among the powerful few, whose voices directly influence contemporary digital culture.

On the other hand, computational collective intelligence can sometimes generate emergent forces to counter this tendency and force software systems to open up. Historically, artists from different artistic moments have adopted collaborative making to redefine the boundary of creative expression. Video Gaming, especially open-world simulation games, is rapidly being adopted as an emerging form of communication, expression, and self-organization.

How can gaming conventions such as Narrative Emergence, Hacking, and Modding help us understand collective play as countering forces against the systematic tendency of normalization? How can people from diverse backgrounds come together to contemplate, make, and simulate rules and conditions for an alternative virtual world? What does it mean to design and virtually inhabit a world where rules are rewritten continuously by everyone, and no one is in control?


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Arts and Humanities
Thesis Advisors
Burton, Judith M.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 1, 2023