My English is not poor, it's just broken

I am not a native English speaker. That's obvious. My English is not as good as I would like to, even if I posses a certificate from Cambridge that, oh surprise, certifies my proficiency in English. I admit that following my thoughts might be sometimes difficult. Actually, that also happens when I speak or write in Spanish. Not big deal, then. But let's be clear: YOU are the native English speaker. So, apart from some possible meaning misunderstanding and grammar mistakes, you should be in the position of following my ideas without major difficulties. Come on, it's YOUR language, not mine. You are lucky your language is the real esperanto. Fate, along with a former solid empire, has given you an incredible advantage. Take it. Enjoy it. Don't be an ass about it.

I have to admit that most of English speakers, especially the Brits, are very polite and comprehending when it comes to dealing with non-native speakers. Probably more than Spanish speakers when they have to deal with foreigners trying to speak their language. And far far far more than the French (or the Parisiens to be precise). No offence, guys. One of the main issues with English is its complex group of sounds (all those vowels and so) and I imagine that sometimes can be very difficult to understand a non-native English speaker (or someone from Newcastle and places like that). However, we are talking about written English. I know: we are not talking at all. Moreover, there's no 'we' but 'me'. But you get my point. It is written English and, spelling problems aside, it should be easier to understand. 

By the way, I do write very good English. It's only a different, avant-garde and innovative style. I even have a name for it: broken prose. So, if you think my prose is flawed, you are right. It is flawed in the same way the sound of a vinyl is. If you think my prose is imprecise, you are right again. It is imprecise in the same way an impressionist painting is. A beautifully discontinuous and kaleidoscopic prose. 

That's it, my English is not poor it's just broken. I'm so proud of it that, in the future, I will write The Broken Prose Manifesto. Be patient and keep track of these (broken) lines. You will be immensely rewarded.

An introduction to the research project

As you already know (you read the About section, did you?) this blog owes its existence to a video game research project at which I've been working during the last months. In fact, there is an explicit mention to this in the project: 'A website will be set up, a personal blog to which some of the ideas and results arising from the project will be transferred, in a less academic form, for informative purpose'. I wrote 'for informative purpose', but I hope it's for far more than that. I'll try to use it as a tool for reflection, a device to shape the incipient ideas which I bump into during my research. I would also like to consider the blog as an space and a reference for discussion (but that's up to you, guys!).

Obviously, I will be writing about other things more or less related to the project (video gaming culture in general, broader sociological issues, and who knows what else), but I've thought that I should shed some light on the blog's main concern. The project is summarised as follows:

The aim of the project is to research the processes that generate subjectivity in video gamers, based on a study of two areas: the expert design of the video game and the interaction established by the gamers with that product and the social setting in which they exist. 

In a social context in which the video game is highlighted as one of the major cultural industries (surpassing music, films or the performing arts in economic terms), very few sociological studies exist with respect to the processes that intervene in creating a video gamer and its relationship with contemporary subjectivities and the social universes of meaning where it dwells. Whereas most academic and general studies have focused on the video game as a cultural product, this project aims to study the models used to generate the video gamer in social terms, without forgetting the expert processes that give rise to the video game as an object.

Using a mainly qualitative method, the study will be targeted at two fields: firstly that involving the experts responsible for designing and producing the video games which takes into account the persons who will use them, thus promoting and conditioning subjectivities, and secondly, the social context in which gamers receive and interact with that product designed by experts and specialists, developing their own responses to the object and building their subjectivity with respect to the video game and in relation to other gamers and the rest of their social environment. The identity of the video gamer and the social worlds that emerge around them will be created through the combination of these two areas, reformulated as dimensions of analysis.

This can give you a general sense of the project. However, there are some things that I've already changed in these first four months of my research. Now I'd rather refer to 'the processes that generate a video game culture' than to the original 'the processes that generate subjectivity in video gamers'. I also think that the idea of "video gamers' subjectivity" is best understood as "video gamers' identity" or "identity of video gamers" (even though identity is one of those problematic notions). In any case, it's a fair hint of the project. I will expand on the project in future entries. Don't get lost and stay tuned!


The three-headed monkey

This blog is written by me - stating the obvious, Daniel Muriel. I'm a sociologist. I have a PhD (good for me!). Now, I'm working on a postdoctoral research project on the video game culture at the University of Salford (Greater Manchester) funded by the Basque Government. OK, enough talking about me. If you want to delight yourself with my outstanding professional achievements, feel free to visit Researchgate, Academia.edu and LinkedIn. You can also follow me on twitter: @danimuriel

Do you remember the classic video game from the early nineties known as 'The Secret of Monkey Island'? If not, shame on you! Google it, and let yourself sink into the embarrassment of your sheer ignorance for not knowing about this masterpiece of our contemporary culture. Now that we're finally on the same cultural page, let me explain what all this is about. The main character of The Secret of Monkey Island is the ridiculous untalented wannabe pirate Guybrush Threepwood, who carries around the most (apparently) useless and unexpected objects in the world, including rubber chickens with a pulley in the middle and staff like that. Well, he's not completely untalented after all. He can hold his breath for 10 minutes. Not bad. What's more, he even has some legendary phrases such as "I'm Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate", "That's the second [whatever] I've ever seen" or, my favourite, "Look behind you, a three-headed monkey!".

If Indiana Jones has his "I'm selling these fine leather jackets" line as a way to divert his enemies (a line also used, by the way, by Guybrush), our old young mate Guybrush has the three-headed monkey line to distract foes and acquaintances alike. He uses it from time to time along the game with divergent results. The interesting thing is that the only situation in which the actual three-headed monkey appears, nobody cares to look back. Poor Guybrush, he has it right for once and there is no one around who believes him. The exceptional never-seen creature is there and he, who has been mocking all the people about it, is the only one who gets to see it. I didn't name this blog after that line because I will be mainly writing about video games here, nor because I love Monkey Island. Actually, yes, at least in part I name it this way because of that. But that's not the point. What I want to express with that reference is how sociology (or sciences and life in general) usually put us in Guybrush Threepwood's shoes and make us play the three-headed monkey line.

You spend hours and hours everyday looking for the clues, traces and pieces of evidence that validate your hypothesis (or refuse them) and help us enlighten our understanding of reality. No matter how big or small the share of new knowledge we create. It's there, it's ours and, if you're not a greedy scientist looking for fame, money and patents, it belongs to the people and any other creature, fantastic or not, which walks on, flies over or digs in our planet. Therefore, the three-headed monkey is that piece of reality we'd like to know better. And to know it better, we have to chase it, find it, observe it. What the hell, we even have to feed it! So, loaded with dozens of bananas, we keep dropping those on different surfaces in order to use them as bait to attract the three-headed monkey. The more bananas we use, the more we think we see the damned monkey, so we keep saying all the time: "Look behind you, a three headed monkey!". Obviously, the monkey is not there and you get frustrated and the gullible people who dare to look every time become more and more angry. And finally, the three-headed monkey, as a postmodern self-important diva pope of sociology, shows up. You shout once again your line and... nobody looks.

Thus, sociology is, for me, that activity in which once I spot the three-headed monkey, nobody looks back. They even can laugh at you. Loudly and stridently. No harm done. I don't think I would look myself. Why should I care? This blog, then, is mainly about looking for the three-headed monkey in the context of a research project on the video game culture. I invite you to join my monkey-ish crusade. I wouldn't like to do it alone... after all, someone must be there to look when I shout: LOOK BEHIND YOU, A THREE-HEADED MONKEY!