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8:22am on Saturday, 14th July, 2007:



Hey, I got some swag!

It's a pen/pencil set in wood from the University of Oviedo, where I spoke yesterday. It was a very pleasant surprise — I wasn't expecting it at all. The only thing visiting speakers to Essex are likely to get is a bad cold.

Seeing as how my Spanish is so rickety it's in danger of falling apart, my talk was translated life. I've never had a talk translated live before, but I'm used to talking to a bunch of students wearing headphones so it was fine. OK, so the headphones they're wearing are normally attached to iPods, but still... I was asked a couple of questions at the end that were very in-depth — it would have taken me 90 minutes to answer them fully, that kind of in-depth — so I did get the very strong impression that they knew their subject.

More amazingly, afterwards I was intervewed by the local TV news and they had proper questions, too. None of this rubbish about virtual worlds and addiction or computer games and violence like you get in the UK: they were asking me about the difference in economics between different kinds of games across different platforms (consoles, PC, online), about the creative act of designing virtual worlds — really intelligent, well-articulated stuff. I can't imagine getting that in the UK even on the Today Programme, but here it was on the regional TV news. They weren't primed by the organiser, either.

I was also asked some probing questions by the university newspaper, which were very thoughtful — way more thoughtful than I'd get from write-it-yourself-I'm-not-a-damned-journalist Wyvern, the organ of Essex University.

Following this, I was interviewed yet again, this time by the regional newspaper (which, because Spain's regions are very strong, has the seventh-largest circulation of any newspaper in Spain). The interviewer had a list of 17 questions which were among the best I've ever been asked by anyone in an interview — the journalist who wrote them (and it was a journalist) really knew his stuff and wasn't afraid of provoking long, involved answers. It took me almost another lecture's worth of time to answer them. I don't get asked things like, "if Shakespeare were alive today, would he be writing virtual worlds?" very often at all.

All in all, my trip here has filled me with optimism — for Spain. It has, however, served to underline even more the great problems we have with game education and public ignorance in the UK.

Still, free wooden pens — that's cheered me up!

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Copyright © 2007 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).