Celebrating Machinima

Last weekend, our SWIFT video saw it’s thousandth view. That’s not a lot in YouTube terms, but as a dissemination method for an academic project like SWIFT, it’s really quite impressive. Compare this to a conference presentation: a thousand people in the audience is virtually unheard of. A paper in a high-impact journal is good, but like a presentation only reaches an academic audience in that area. Nowadays, funders want a lot more interest generating for their money.

I first noticed the possibilities for videos filmed within virtual worlds like Second Life (known as “machinima”) when I saw the “Falling Woman Story”, an excellent insight into the reality that can inhabit a virtual world:

That was barely 18 months ago, yet things have moved on very quickly. Linden Labs (Second Life creators) now run a regular “Month of Machinima“, showcase. New techniques are being developed, new standards. Machinima is becoming a separate art form. Here’s an example from the first “Month of Machinima”:

It may be time to rethink ideas about project dissemination. There are now numerous technological ways to raise awareness of an academic project. They all have their place.

In my opinion, a website is a good “shop window” that people can be referred to as a “clearing house” for project information. A blog is about engaging people in dialogue within the project’s area, and needs to be used in conjunction with replying to other people’s blogs in the area. Twitter is good for generating interest in current activities – what’s going on NOW – or for sharing a kind of “stream of consciousness” about the project and its area. Facebook is good for creating and maintaining working relationships between individuals in an area. And video seems to be good for engaging people in the concept of a project, generating interest and getting people talking.

Oh, and it’s good to write some papers too…

Paul Rudman, BDRA

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