Department of Anthropology

Seminar Series with Paul Manning, Trent University

Animating Virtual Worlds

Mon, December 4, 2017 | SAC 5.118

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


My research on digital worlds focuses on applying my interest in animation to the problem of worldness, using an ethnographic example, the massively multiplayer online game world of Ryzom, whose continued life has always been precarious. In much research on such games, a primary source of concern is not just the world as a site or setting for a game, but “worldness” as something that could be appreciated in its own right, as a complex media object having a sense of autonomous reality, in which the various layers of the media world, the backgrounds, the animated nonplayer characters, the community of player characters, all hang together.

Exploring different modes of animation, the animation of animals, landscapes, player characters, and so on, as aspects of worldness, each of which can contribute or detract from emergent “worldness”, I show how these different modes of animation are reflected in an emergent form of animated media whose very existence is parasitic on this animated worldness: so-called machinima. Machinima are a kind of hybrid animated film whose animations are in fact taken from live footage from inside the virtual world. I will use machinima extensively both to illustrate these modes of animation and – I hope – to show that for Ryzom, different modes of animation are loosely associated with different emergent genres of machinima.


Paul Manning is a Professor of Anthropology at Trent University.  He received his PhD in linguistics from the University of Chicago in 2001 and has taught anthropology at Northern Illinois University, Reed College, and Bard College. Professor Manning's research focuses on linguistic and semiotic anthropology in Europe (Wales) and Eurasia (Georgia). He has done fieldwork on Welsh speaking populations in Wales, Argentina and on Georgian speaking populations in Georgia and Russia. 



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