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I’m starting to do my homework for designing and implementing the Red Light, Green Light game I’ve blogged about here in the past. At the moment I’m putting together a reading list about architectures of control, but I’m having a hard time finding any information specifically about designing campuses in response to the Kent State massacre. Since UB’s North Campus was built post-Kent State, I suspect that I might even be able to find specific information about the design of this campus as a response to that event.

The idea of putting together a bibliography for a game is kind of odd, but it makes sense if you want to make an effective intervention. I think it would be beneficial for players to have a resource to be directed to after the fact. And also something to prove that I’m not just a “fun” designer. I think I will make the bibliography available via AAAARG, both for political and practical reasons.

Anyway, if anybody has any ideas about additions to the bibliography for me to check into, please let me know. I’d really appreciate it.

Oh, and also, we can play Name That Game, since I’m not yet sure what to call this exercise.

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As the first semester of my stay in Buffalo winds down, I can’t help but think what incredible luck I’ve had in being here. On a professional level, I’ve found a place where I can really stretch my legs. Every week or so I have a totally mind-melting day where new ideas just pop into my head fully-formed, ready to be implemented.  I love my colleagues on both sides of the hall, and I really enjoy the faculty I’ve worked with thusfar. On a personal level, I have fallen into the community I was worried I would lack. I am surrounded by people I can and want to support, and who can and want to support me. On a broad-spectrum level, I’ve found the perfect incubator for my ideas, a combination of people, places, and things that make everything seem possible. It’s full of challenges, of course, but I thrive in an environment where I’m required to fight uphill a good bit of the time.

Considering where my thinking is now as opposed to where it was four months ago, I think I’ve expanded and matured more in this semester than I have ever in any one semester ever. I already think I know what I will write my doctoral dissertation on. I am discovering that I’ve found my academic niche. I am going to be doing some heavy intellectual lifting in the next year or so. I’m also going to be making some games. Paid. To make games. (More on this later…much later, probably.)

This is a kick-ass track to be on. I haven’t been uber-productive yet, but this semester was about furious networking (with everyone from Hallwalls to the Graduate Student Employees Union) and figuring out what I can and can’t do. The great part is, everything I want to do will, at the very least, be tolerated. Maybe warily, but it will be tolerated.

Now all I have to do is finish up this semester’s work, reapply for my TA position, and keep my head up — every day is better than the last. This is the future I was banking on when I applied to graduate school.

Last night was great. I spoke with a number of people further about giant Red Light, Green Light, which is rapidly evolving into something way bigger and more epic than maybe I had initially planned, but that’s what grad school is for, I think. Stephanie has promised to find me a book about the design and construction of UB’s North Campus (as a structure of control, as a way to prevent student organizing) and Mark thinks I should undertake an architectural study of the campus to create a comprehensive overview of why an intervention like a SMS-enabled game of Red Light, Green Light should get us thinking.

And I think a lot. I think about the alienation of working at a commuter school, working in a building with white halls and walls and light grey floors, where even though we are an art department and neighbor another art department, public displays of aesthetics are kept to a minimum, tightly constrained, kept in their place. Even posters for department events (nice ones) get taken down if they’re not in their designated spot. (Paintings that might interfere with the overall aesthetic or ethical concerns of building use are strictly forbidden: take the example of a painting of a young woman vomiting that was turned around by building staff when dance parents came to visit.) I honestly find North Campus soul-crushing. I find CFA completely contrary to any sense of community space, of aesthetic development, of play.

I don’t think we have to take this sitting down. Giant Red Light, Green Light is evolving into a critical performance practice. Instead of trying to reach the goal (me on my humble laptop, planted somewhere previously disclosed) in the fastest time possible, players will instead have to form the largest groups possible and, within a half-hour, reach the goal. In order to win, players must organize. They must talk to people on campus they’ve never spoken to before. They need to challenge the campus protocols that say — keep your head down, do your work, don’t bother anyone else, go home in the evening.

I am still trying to come up with an appropriate reward for winning. Thoughts?

Tonight the wonderful Eileen Myles appeared at Just Buffalo. I went, with a number of friends, and was summarily blown away. I think what I’m starting to realize now is that Eileen really put my head back on my shoulders again, and gave me a little slap around even. I realized on the car ride home that she’s the first person I’ve encountered at this point, in Buffalo, who’s talked about the issues that have been giving me such trouble my whole life. Amplified by coming here, where I am more or less on my own for the first time. I haven’t even fully articulated yet what those issues are, but to hear her read and talk was like a slap in the face. The good kind.

I am still unraveling what that means.

I am afraid that my isolation has gotten the better of me. I miss a community of trans friends I could bounce ideas around with, be honest with, and stand behind.

I am drafting an email to the DMS graduate students about a Transgender Day of Remembrance event. Because the TDoR event on this campus is sponsored by an institutional organization. And because we should all care about each other.

And, I’m tired of the anxious closet.

I told Olivier I think I make some faculty members very anxious. I’ve been having this discussion with a number of people and maybe the anxiety is because they are not sure how to address me, and thus not sure how to address themselves to me, that maybe they see in me an identity-politics powder keg. Why am I lying about these things? Why am I omitting something I’ve fought so hard for? Why am I not clawing out toeholds again, here, so I can be okay?

I think Eileen Myles shook me out of this three-month slumber. By saying the things she said, or just existing maybe. Or making me anxious too.

I feel fierce but isolated. I feel supported, but alone. I am at the top of my fucking game and nobody knows it but me.

I got rejected from Brown on Friday, but I also got an amazing offer from UB — a teaching assistantship that comes with full tuition, a generous stipend, and healthcare.  Even if it wasn’t my second choice school I would be pretty tempted, so it’s fair to say I’ll be going to Buffalo at the end of the summer.  I’m a pretty happy camper — go check out UB’s Department of Media Study.

I realize that I haven’t been writing a lot lately, but I’ve also neglected some major developments in my graduate school search.  In February I was admitted to both the University of Michigan’s School of Information for my master’s in information science and the University at Buffalo’s Media Study program for an MFA in emerging practices.  While it’s too early to make a decision yet (I have yet to hear back from Brown and New York University), I am really excited about both these prospects, especially Buffalo.  What could be better than getting a two-year master’s making ARGs?  Not much actually.

In the meantime the search for funding begins.  I’m going to be completely financially independent next year, which means wherever I go I hope to get a teaching assistantship or something similar.  Also, I get to file a FAFSA on which I only declare my measly income from 2008.  Need-based aid, here I come!

Also, my mother thinks I have bronchitis.  I don’t know, but I have been coughing for two weeks straight.  It’s probably doctor time, as much as I hate that.

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