Nicholas O’Brien is a net-based artist, curator, and writer researching Games, Digital Art, and Network Culture. His work has exhibited in Mexico City, Berlin, London, Dublin, Italy, Prague, as well as throughout the US. As a past recipient of a Turbulence.org Commission funded by the NEA his work has also appeared or featured in ARTINFO, The Brooklyn Rail, DIS magazine, Frieze d/e, The Atlantic, and The New York Times. He currently lives in Brooklyn and is Assistant Professor in 3D Design and Game Development at Stevens Institute of Technology.
Based on historical research I’ve done on 90-00s instances of video game currencies acquiring IRL value, this talk wishes to discuss emergent, user-centric, virtual marketplaces and offline networks of black/gray market video game ephemera. This material includes presenting networks involved in gold duping, Ebay auctioning of virtual property, the Steam Marketplace (and the clashing communities of hobbyist and for-profit game modders), as well as counterfeit Amiibo crafters. Though some of these networks are monitored and regulated—the Steam Marketplace is a good example—others are often ad hoc.
For Radical Networks I want to discuss networks that operate either outside or on the fringes of game studio regulation. Furthermore I want to investigate how these networks form, grow, and find ways of becoming incorporated into sanctioned economic communities. Often the work of ardent fans that initiate improvisational networks create legitimate money making strategies for blockbuster studios and triple-A developers. For this talk I want to argue that these networks and communities should be left alone to creatively self-organize virtual marketplaces in order to foster emergent forms of play.