You are on page 1of 12

Networking Vampires – Life in a social network seen through a game

Social networking sites and web services like Facebook, Second Life, Flickr,, etc. can be seen as much more than merely functional spaces. Other spatial aspects can be highlighted. With our actions we also perform activities – we reach for objects in Second Life, we apply applications in Facebook, etc.; we take in space by moving and going to places – typically by RSS feeds or linking in LinkedIn,, Facebook, etc.; we judge what we reach for and link to – by tagging, rating, social book marking as performed at e.g. These behaviours change the software space to a place we inhabit. The main question for this presentation is, in which way we inhabit these spaces? What actions does the space encourage and what kind of existence is affected? Beyond doubt, dealing with software we are witnessing a particular distribution of a sensual experience (in the terms of French philosopher, Jacques Rancière). In this landscape of creative and participatory software that characterizes the Internet today we thus need a language to further distinguish between our ‘spaces of action’ and the software’s distribution of our sensual experiences. The paper will suggest that an analysis of the software interface and its discursive and semantic properties is needed to reveal these political aspects of software. In detail, it will analyze the game of Vampires, a popular application on Facebook, claiming A) that the network game fundamentally challenges our notion of what a game actually is, B) that analyzing the game’s dynamics may help us understand the network and its historical challenges in a broader perspective and C) that the game of Vampires invites us to read the game through the image of the vampire (for this the analysis will draw on Carl Th. Dreyer’s Vampyr from 1932). The analysis will demonstrate how traditional notions of social activity, work and leisure, public and private, reality and fiction are being challenged by our life in the network.

Networking Vampires – Life in a social network seen through a game
Christian Ulrik Andersen, Information and Media Studies, University of Aarhus.

South American users of Facebook recently started a beauty contest: “Miss Facebook Chile”. What originally started as an idea in a chat room now has 648 contestants and 39.000 registered users (Käufer 2008). What does it mean when 648 ordinary women decide to show their own amateur portrait to a public in order to be ranked? Is it merely an example of old style exhibitionism? And, with 39.000 users, what is the value of this activity? Italo Fuentealba, who initiated the project, now has a full-time job. With similar competitions in other countries, the networking service now also attracts investors and sponsors. Is our network activity then just some kind of leisure activity or does our construction of nodes constitute some kind of production? And the 39.648 users, what do they share? In what way are they social? What kind of sociality does a web service promise? It seems as if web based social services challenge us and force us to re-negotiate the relationship between public and private, work and leisure, public and private and what it means to be social in a social networking culture. It is in other words important to investigate our networking culture and its networking services from a cultural, critical angle. The aim is to shed light on what actually happens in the network by analyzing a particular manifestation of a web based social network, one of Facebook’s most popular applications, Vampires. Vampires is a game within Facebook. Its users compete and gain points by, simply put, fighting each other and biting people who haven’t installed the application. The application has slightly more than a 90.000 daily active users (May 2008) – equalling a medium sized Transylvanian town. The hypothesis is three sided. Firstly, new network game formats fundamentally challenge our traditional notion of what a game is. The game surrounds the network users, it is played by many users and most users, I guess, have ‘been bitten’ ‘fed’ or in other ways staged in the game. The network becomes a game – and the game a network. Vampires is not merely a private leisure activity, restricted to take place at a given time and place, within the game’s ‘magic circle’ – by definition constituting the game – it is everywhere. Secondly – and most importantly – the participation in a game de-mystifies otherwise incomprehensible actions; actions one only understands through participation. The participation accustoms the user to a particular situation, in other words. This adaptation is not only interior to the game – one may also adapt to an external situation through a game. The thesis thus is, that the network game adapts the user to the network culture. That games’ train and adapt the player to a realm outside the game has already been studied by game and play theorists (e.g. Roberts & Sutton-Smith 1971). In a media theoretical perspective, this is not surprising either. Already Walter Benjamin suggested in his famous Artwork-essay from 1936 (revised in 1939) that the effects of modernity could be appropriated through its media, film. For the tasks which face the human apparatus of perception at the turning points of history cannot be solved by optical means, that is, by contemplation, alone. They are mastered gradually by habit, under the guidance of tactile appropriation. (Benjamin 1991, p. 505) The challenges modernity poses to our perception (through speed, fluctuation, unconnected events, etc.) separates immediate perception (sight) from critical insight. Against the contemplation of a painting based on optical perception, Benjamin proposes the ‘distracted’ use of architecture based on tactile appropriation. Architecture survives other (optical) art forms because of its tactile nature that allows it to adapt. Film is located in between the two modes of perception and is not to merely to be

contemplated as a visual medium but also experienced materially, as a medium using shock effects (through montage, cutting, camera movements, etc.). Film, accordingly, not only holds a seductive power, but also a potential for adaptation to a world of shock-effects. A game is not a film (perhaps it resembles architecture more than film), but one may certainly say that it holds the same properties. It too is a visual medium that is used – and subsequently holds the potential of tactile appropriation. Consequently, the claim is that tactile reception of game dynamics is an appropriation of the network. Decoding and analysing the game’s dynamics may help us understand the network and its historical challenges. Thirdly, Vampires, intended or unintended, suggests the vampire as an allegory of the network. Though non-human, vampires are traditionally (in fiction) presented as culturally sophisticated creatures. They belong to a mystical social grouping, secretive and distanced from other spheres of life. The main character in Carl Th. Dreyer’s movie Vampyr from 1932 is the young Allan Gray. Gray studies the occult, “devil worship and vampire terror”, as the movie puts it. He is, however, not a strict scientist but has a somewhat dreamy personality, living half in an unreal, fictional world. He is not just investigating but is also attracted by the occult. At the beginning of the movie he has just arrived to the village of Courtempierre where he immediately recognizes the presence of mysterious secrets and untold truths. Unable to resist, attracted by the sophisticated mysterious vampires, he is sucked into the darkness. Vampire business is an internal affair but has the aim of incorporating receptive souls outside their group, like Gray. Their very life depends on sucking blood from strangers, transforming them to living dead, blindly obeying The Prince of Darkness. May the social network not be like a fraternity of vampires and the one surfing the network like Gray?

What is a game?
When a game appears in a network, the tactile reception of its dynamics functions as an appropriation of the network. The question of what a game is thus becomes central. What is a game and what kind of game does the network player play? The Dutch Johan Huizinga was one of the first to thoroughly investigate the nature of play. In his famous work Homo Ludens (Man the Player) from 1933 he describes its formal characteristics like this: Summing up the formal characteristics of play we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside “ordinary” life as being “not serious”, but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings that tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means. (Huizinga 2000, p. 13) In itself, play is characterized by a separation from the works sphere. Play is not serious and without any profit or material interest. One cannot generate something of value outside the limits of the game; the sole purpose of the game is to open a room, controlled by certain rules that bind the players together. An important function of play is thus the social grouping. Through disguises, secrets and masked activities (all intrinsically linked to playing, where the players dress in a certain way marking their particular roles and have particular codes of conduct not easily understandable to outsiders), the players distance themselves from the outside and are bound together by play as their common activity. The French play theorist Roger Caillois in his book Les jeux et les homes (Man, Play and Games) from 1958 further elaborates on Huizinga’s ideas. He, however, also questions the notion of

play as a mysterious, secretive activity (Caillois 2001, p. 4). Without doubt, the mysterious can be transformed into play, but play at the same time has a tendency to reveal mysteries. Behind the sacral mask hides an institution that play somehow exposes. Play does not pose mysteries without also leading to a solution of the mysteries, one might say. One gets acquainted with the rules and roles and becomes a skilled player – and, in the case of a game, one that might even play well enough to win. To play a game thus essentially is about learning and mastering how to behave in the game by demystifying dynamics, rules and meanings. This competence is, from one point of view, only useful within the game’s own world. In another perspective, however, the competences are associated an external socio-cultural environment. Ethnographical studies show how different types of mastering are related different social organization forms. Games of chance e.g. train a sense of responsibility associated with societies where the supernatural plays an important role; games of strategy train submission associated with societies with complex (political) social systems; and so forth (Roberts & Sutton-Smith 1971). Through his or her performance, the player in other words learns about a surrounding world’s values and dynamics. What values and dynamics does the network game promote? A game, according to Roger Caillois, a game is by definition a particular formalized type of play controlled by often explicit rules that the player, for a limited period time and at a particular place, voluntarily submits to and is evaluated according to. Caillois extracts a number of formal properties characterizing the activity of gaming (and playing in a broader sense) as: - Free (voluntary) - Separate (circumscribed within limits of time and space) - Governed by rules (establishing new conventions suspending ordinary laws) - Unproductive (perhaps exchanging materials and property but not generating any) - Make-believe (with a special awareness of a second reality, a free unreality opposed real life). (Caillois 2001, p. 9) What is particular to the network game – and as the vampire allegory seems to bring attention to – is that these fundamental laws of the game become dim and unclear. The game seems to train the player to the confusion and re-negotiation of the value of these properties in the network. The network is involuntary, unlimited, with no rules (or, rules that not only subordinates but also negates ordinary laws), productive and (not least) real.

The properties of the network game
1) Free. According to Caillois’ definition of play, the activity is characterized by being voluntary. A game is a social activity that demands an invitation, permission or appointment. Permission to play can be granted, given or decided according to people’s own free will. One may e.g. ask players to play football, ask if one can join game or schedule a meeting. Nobody is forced. If any kind of force was involved any element of fun and leisure would immediately disappear and it would seem more like work.

The protagonist in Dreyer’s movie, Allan Gray, is a dreamer, receptive to the dark forces. The vampire allegory thus seems to suggest that the game is less voluntary than one might assume. The vampire game absorbs the weak player; the one who is unable to resist. If one wants to participate in Vampires one merely needs to add the application to one’s profile in Facebook. Most active players have added the application because a vampire has bitten them. When biting someone in the game, an invitation to join the game is automatically generated. Participation in the game thus only to certain degree matches the notion of a voluntary activity. Of course, users who have been bitten may reject the invitation. Nonetheless, they have already partly abandoned their will

to do so. Doing nothing in Facebook is not an option. This is an a priori to the network. Their mere presence in the network thus suggests that they have already accepted the command to install applications that can structure their activities. The Facebook user is, in other words, always receptive to transform his or her presence into a goal oriented activity. In this way, Vampires seduces users who, like Allan Gray, wanders about (surf the network), unable to resist the temptation of a game. 2) Separate. A game is, according to Caillois, always restricted to a time and place of its own. One also says that the game has a sacred space or a ‘magic circle’ – a term borrowed from ritual magic. It takes place only within a reality of its own – at a particular place and for a given period of time. One does not enter the game before one crosses the magic circle by e.g. crossing the chalked line of a football (soccer) pitch. The game does not begin before the whistle blows and it runs only for a period of time (90 minutes) – only suspended when the rules are broken or the ball leaves the pitch. It is however unclear where and when the magic circle of vampires begins and ends. The Vampire Research Society, a society of ‘vampyrologists’ lead by Seán Manchester, announce that written reports on vampires can be dated back to at least the first half of the 18th century – and oral accounts, even further back. Incidents have been reported as late as in the early seventies where the Highgate Vampire and his army of living dead haunted nuns and other by passers of the Highgate cemetery in London (Manchester 1985 & 1991). Equally, in Dreyer’s movie the vampire seems to be beyond both time and place.

Through his immortality and ability to spread his virus, the vampire exceeds the limits of time and place. At all times and forever, the vampire may return to drink blood from the living. The crave for blood is transferred from vampire to victim and turned into an epidemic that potentially may spread around the globe. The world of the vampire is without limits. Also Vampires has a magic circle that the players may step into, in the sense that they can select the game application from their profile menu in Facebook. This is where they play the game, where they bite, fight and keep track of their friends’ scores. Vampires, however, seems to inherit the properties of the real vampires game space – where the temporal and spatial boundaries of the game become diffuse. Vampires neither begins nor ends but is a piece of software that runs 24 hours a day for ever (in theory). Even though it includes a ‘pitch’, equalling the software application’s interface, it potentially includes the whole network. This property is caused by the fact that the application – unlike most other computer games – contains very little direct manipulation and is characterized by a high degree of automation. The vampires, the player chooses to fight or the strangers that are bitten are in other words not controlled by humans but by the software application. Defense does not demand the presence of the user, which is why the player may bite or fight users who are asleep on the other side of the globe and who haven’t, so to speak, formally entered the magic circle. Vampires is everywhere in Facebook. 3) Governed by rules. In a game, the dim and complicated rules of everyday life are replaced by very concise rules. Within the magic circle of the game, the player knows who and who to fight or love for example. Games are strictly rule based. Though cheating may occur in a game, the rules remain explicit and the game prevails. The rule that states that kicking opponents in a game of football e.g. still remains when the rule is broken, and even a discussion of weather it was broken or not does not challenge the game itself. Only the nihilists, who refuse to accept the rules or follow their own rules, challenge the game and leave the players baffled. The game only makes sense within its own confines, and confronted with an intruders lack of accept, the game leaves no room for counteractions. The nihilists destroy the game and the community of the players and their only option is to exclude the nihilists from the magic circle. How about the vampires? Their rule is simple: Blood and death equal eternal life. All day long,

they sleep in their coffins only to rise at night and haunt the living, seduce them, drink their blood and eventually kill them. From a human perspective, this simple rule of conduct is rather and ‘anti rule’, destroying the prevailing rules of life and community. Vampires brake the rule of work; that one is supposed to work at day and sleep at night. Vampires break the rule of death; when you are dead you are supposed to leave this world. Vampires break the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” – or let alone, eat your own breed. Vampires, in short, play a game that discards all existing rules and social norms by simply not accepting them and replacing them by other rules that negate them. The rules of Vampires are simple too. When the player chooses the application from the profile menu, the different actions, the game provides occur.

In short, the objective is to score points and get a high ranking. Points are scored by fighting another vampire (or other creatures from the paranormal world) or by biting an innocent friend. As only a certain amount of fights are allowed per day, friends that are not vampires can be fed to other vampires, giving the player an extra opportunity to attack. Points can also be scored by automation when the player is not present in the application. If the player is attacked by another vampire and wins the battle (because of superior strength (ranking) or simple luck), one score points too. Similarly, when bitten friends accept the game (by installing the application), the overturned becomes part of a ‘vampire army’, eternally earning points to the player whenever he or she overturns new players. The game thus includes the logic of a vampire world into the game’s dynamics From the point of view of the network, however, Vampires seems nihilistic – destroying the social rules of conduct. The social network is turned into the game-board of a separate group of vampire-players who constantly bite the users or transform them into vampire fodder. The endless row of invitations thus function as a threat to the simplest rules of sociality – that relations are entered voluntarily on the basis of hospitality and invitation and not by neither invasion nor impersonal, involuntary invitations. This, however, is only partly true. The social network seems to accept this invasion because the game replaces the negation and destruction of ordinary social rules of conduct with the production of a new kind of network relation, created by invasion and diffusion. 4) Unproductive. According to Huizinga’s definition of play there are no material interests involved – no profit can be generated from a game or a play (Huizinga 2000, p. 13). As Caillois remarks, this is hardly true. Games like roulette or betting games are designed to reward (or ruin) the player economically (Caillois 2001, p. 5). What seems to be a fact is that games, by definition, are unproductive: ”Property is exchanged, but no goods are produced” as Caillois concludes (ibid, p. 5). Games are thus ultimately a waste – of time, resources, energy, knowledge and ever so often money, too. The resources one invests in a game of Risk e.g., may lead to huge armies that will eliminate the opponents, but when the game is over, nothing remains but the plastic pieces that will be wiped off the board by a single stroke of a hand. Despite the effort, nothing has been produced outside the magic circle of the game. In our ordinary conception of a game, the border between a game and its external environment is constituted by a distinction between production and not-production – between work and leisure. The vampire indicates a breakdown of this distinction. The vampires undoubtedly play a game but their deed is not merely leisure, for fun alone. They are also being productive. Though in a depraved form, they produce life from blood. This production is not merely restricted to the vampires’ own (unreal) world but has effects in the surrounding world, too. The people of Courtempierre live with a constant and hidden threat – the threat of becoming living dead, slaves, part of the vampire production of depraved life. The vampire production is not merely life but also terror. And yet, the very life of Courtempierre seems to be nourished by this threat, the fascination of the living dead and eternal life. Courtempierre is nothing without The Prince of Darkness and his virus.

Vampires is a game one plays because it is fun. It stimulates the simple desire in the player to compete – beat a high score or get a better ranking than one’s friends. This production of points is, of course, unproductive. When leaving the computer behind, the player brings nothing from the game. Yet, from another point of view, the aimless leisure activity separated from ordinary life is highly productive. The effect of the game activity outside the limits of the game is the constant reminder to others of the player’s activity. These reminders seem invasive to the user of the network, threatening her with the rule of activity: She cannot choose not to do anything in the network; this will render her socially dead. Social life in Facebook is, in other words, mediated by activities (applications) that the user cannot refuse if she wishes to become part of the network. There is no life in the social network but leisure life mediated by an application. Hence, the threatening invitation of becoming an active vampire-player cannot be defined as all negative, something separated from a goal-oriented, productive life. The vampire invitation is actually an invitation to join and become alive in the network, creating and strengthening its nodes – to network. The outcome of a game is never given beforehand, Caillois states (Caillois 2001, p. 7), but in Vampires it is evident that the one spending most time being active within the magic circle of the game, will be the one getting the highest rank. The ranking list thus directly reflects one’s ability to network. Life in the vampire network has value beyond the game itself and the production of points directly reflects this value 5) Make-believe. Most games involve the imagination of a different world. A little girl playing with her dolls play as if she was someone else ad what she did something else, as if she was in a different world. Plying with dolls cannot, of course, be characterized as a true game. It is merely roleplay with no strict rules governing the outcome. The rules formalizing the play, however, also stress this element of make-believe (Caillois 2001, p. 8). One might say that a game is real because it is experienced in reality – as opposed to a book or a movie, which are both mediated experiences. If a foul is committed, a free-kick in football e.g., it is not something the players imagine. The rules have really been violated and a play has been obstructed. The rules of a game must be obeyed and are therefore experienced for real. In spite of this, submitting to the rules also separates the player from the real world. The rules only apply under special conditions in another world. The player’s behaviour is consequently ‘a game’; something pretended and not necessarily obeyed in real life. Vampires seem not to accept a common distinction between fiction and reality. They exist in a borderland where night in the light of the full moon becomes day. To Allan Gray the distinction between reality and make-believe is dim. Is he dreaming or is he awake? Is he alive or is he dead? To the haunted, it is like a nightmare where the dreaming soul and the awaked body become one. A bite marks on the throat is therefore not merely displaying the nocturnal activities of a vampire to passive, receptive humans. A bite mark bears witness of a human world belonging to the vampires – reality is part of a make-believe, fictional world. Simultaneously, reality also becomes the play field of the vampires, where their game may evolve with the humans as its pieces. Fiction becomes reality and reality fiction.

Is Vampires fiction or reality? In the game, players appear with their real profile names and may only use a predefined icon for their vampire profile. The game as such does not seem to encourage roleplaying and make-believe. Even though the players actually do have the opportunity to role-play by using the game’s chat feature and a discussion board, this particular kind of discourse seems to be absent. The players in general seem to stick to a discourse that stresses the game as real. Their focus is on getting a better ranking and not on becoming Dracula (“If you fight me, I’ll fight you!”).

Nothing in the game thus suggests that the players pretend that they are entering a different, makebelieve world or assuming a different, make-believe profile. They are still just on Facebook and very few elements in the game lead them to think otherwise. On one hand, the players step into a fictional world of vampires and vampire rules of conduct when they open the application. Here, within the magic circle of the game, the game’s fictive rules become real. Unlike other games, however, this reality does not belong to a different reality. In a world where users constantly ‘bite’ each other by offering overwhelming amounts of invitations to participate in various network activities (adding applications, groups or friends), the fictional rules of the game have become reality. On the other hand, the players do not even have to open the application to participate in the game’s fiction. The application is at all times open and evolving in the network where friends become objects one can bite in the game without their acceptance or knowledge. The external reality of the game becomes the board of the game; reality becomes fiction. When the distinction between fiction and reality becomes blurred it affects and dissolve the limits of the private, leisure sphere and a public, working sphere. Traditionally, the fiction of a game is private in the sense that it is only shared by the initiated – the ones who have stepped inside the magic circle. A public, following the game as spectators, may of course observe this private game space. In this case, the contract between players and spectators is free, separate, governed by rules and unproductive – precisely as the game itself. The spectators are allowed to watch the game but is vulnerable and no interference is allowed. Spectators must remain at a distance. Vampires is also exhibited to an audience – but in a very different way. The distance between players and spectators, between private and public, is changed. This change can be regarded from two interrelated angles. First of all, from the point of view of the network and spectators, the publication of the players’ private, fictional world is intrusive, and in this way very real. The spectators witness how the players, often during work hours, devote themselves to fiction and leisure activity. According to traditional work ethics, this is embarrassing. However, as much as this private performance of an ego seeking to get a higher rank in a social system is intrusive and embarrassing it is, as formerly addressed, also positive and productive from the public point of view of the network – creating and strengthening its nodes. In a social network culture it is positive and productive when private fiction becomes public reality. Secondly, from the point of view of the player, the network becomes a private playfield where the fiction can evolve. The public in other words become private, reality its fiction. This makes the player mighty. Unlike a traditional gaming situation, where the contract between players and spectators is established to protect the game and the players from intrusion of the real, a public spoiling the fiction e.g., it is the public, the network that is left vulnerable. The relation of power and control is reversed. The player is powerful and it is the public that must live with the threat of the private self-performance and networking activities. The public has an obligation to participate in the private but has absolutely no protective contract. In a social network culture, the public reality becomes private fiction and all contracts protecting the public from the private, reality from fiction, are abandoned because they hinder the production of the network.

How is social game-life in the network?

How is life in a web based, social networking platform? If one is to understand this life form through a social networking game, as a training of its dynamic properties, it is characterized by being: 1) Involuntary. Traditionally, social activities are perceived as controlled by free will. One has e.g. the option of not choosing to participate. In a social networking platform, social life is obligatory and one cannot refuse its offers. The users are a priori tempted by the social activities and looking for a way to fulfill their needs to become socially active on the platform. 2) Ubiquitous. Traditionally, staged social activities (like a game) are separated from real life – something we may (at our own free will) step into by invitation or permission. In the social network, the staged social activity is ubiquitous; it is offered everywhere and users participate automatically, even when not having agreed to or doing something else. 3) Without rules. Traditionally, play, as a social leisure activity, is rule bound. This is also the case with most web based social play. Accordingly, Vampires too is a game governed by rules. A basic rule, however, is the rule of being viral, spreading the social activity. This viral activity does not obey the traditional regulation of sociality, but is rather, because of its invasive nature, in opposition to the fundamental social rules of hospitality and invitation. 4) Productive. Traditionally, the staged social activity is perceived the opposite of productive work – as unproductive leisure, ultimately a waste of time and resources. In a social networking service, however, leisure becomes productive. Spreading the network by creating relations is not just an evil disease (a virus) that lures people into leisure and un-productivity. It is in itself a kind of production – networking. 5) Real (shifting the relation between public and private). Traditionally, the staged social activity is considered a private make-believe fiction. Even though it may be shared be other participants, it is private in the sense that it is not shared by a public (from a real world). The pubic is, by contract, kept at a distance to protect the make-believe of the game. In the social network, this relation between public and private, fiction and reality, is altered. The fiction of the social activity becomes real, exhibiting the leisure activity and thus imposing itself on a public that witness the game – and the reality of the public becomes fiction by using it as a prop in the game. Unlike what might be expected, the private production of relations, created by and in a fictional make-believe world, is not considered as invasive exhibitionism but as productive networking. The public thus have no choice but to accept to accept the private self-performance and to accept to become props in a fiction. How should we regard and manage Facebook and other web services where sociality is mediated by a platform (also known as web 2.0)? How should we consider life in the network – and networking culture as such? These questions often have very political answers. If we, nevertheless, turn towards aesthetic manifestations of the social network, we may find other ways of answering. Historically, aesthetic manifestations of media technologies have always functioned as promoters of visions of and expectations to technology. Turning towards aesthetic expressions of social networks Vampires seems to one amongst at least two other strategies. Co-cultural strategies proclaim “Cool! Lets have some more of this.” The network services create news of being social, new possibilities for self-performance and production that contains new ways of being creative (as e.g. voyeuristic or exhibitionistic) and new business models (e.g. attributing a market value to the potentials of a network). This is often how Web 2.0 is presented publicly. Para-cultural strategies tactically and creatively play with the social network culture while attempting to displace it. This way, they offer an insight into the dynamics and values of the network. While some users may simply regard Vampires as a co-cultural strategy offering a possibility of selfproduction, it may undoubtedly also be read as a manifestation that, by using the image of the vampire, stages and displaces the social network. Another example is found in the network of young Danish authors on Facebook, using the service to investigate new literary forms, as e.g. new ways of collective writing. The most famous example of this is ‘the mystery’ Ejler Nyhavn, a Facebook profile allegedly run by the Danish writer Peter Adolphsen. Here, Facebook is used to play with the relation between

fiction and reality. Ejler Nyhavn’s profile remains open to interceptions and his friends – occasionally other writers using invented profiles, too – correspond with him by e.g. writing on his Wall (another Facebook application). The poet Christel Wiinblad for example, appears in Ejler Nyhavn’s profile as his daughter – a commentary on Ejler Nyhavn’s excessive lifestyle. Peter Adolphsen himself states: “The Ejler Nyhavn universe is a kind of interactive literary installation. The German artist Joseph Beuys once introduced the idea of ‘jeder Mensch eine Künstler’ and Ejler Nyhavn’s profile realizes the possibility” (Sørensen 2008).

Counter-cultural strategies regard the commercialised, centralised social web platform as a perverted fulfillment of an original network cultures’ visions of democracy and transparency. The counter culture must not be seen as negation of network culture, but rather as directly related the endorsement of peer-2-peer communities ( e.g.) and the free libre software movement. The British artist, curator and media theorist Geoff Cox remarks that the centralised ownership of the web obscures a totalitarian control rather than guaranteeing a democratic organisation of the social network (Cox 2008). His site antisocial notworking is a repository both theoretical texts and art projects that addresses these obscure control forms of social web services and deconstruct their social ownership. A common trait in these projects is their insistence on public ownership of the software and access to the creation of the social relation.

Benjamin. W.: “Der Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technishen Reproduzierbarheit (Dritte Fassung)” in Walter Benjamin. Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 1 no. 2. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1991, pp. 471508. Caillois, R.: Les Jeux et les Hommes, Paris, Gallimard, 1958. English translation: Man Play and Games, Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 2001. Castells, M.: The Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture, Vol. I. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1996. Cox, G.: Antisocial Applications: Notes in support of antisocial notworking. Derrida, J. & Dufourmantelle, A.: Of Hospitality, Stanford University Press, 2000. Huizinga, J. HOMO LUDENS: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. Florence, KY: Routledge, 2000. Käufer, T.: “Miss Facebook 2008 krones i Chile” in Politiken 24.0808. Manchester, Seàn: The Highgate Vampire, Gothic Press, 1985, 1991 (2nd edition). Roberts, J.M. & Sutton-Smith, B.: “Child Training and Game involvement” in Avedon & Sutton-

Smith: The Study of Games, Wiley & Sons 1971, pp 465-487. Salen, K. & Zimmerman, E.: Rules of Play – Gamedesign Fundamentals, Cambridge, MA; London, UK: MIT Press, 2004. Sørensen, R. B.: “Mød Ejler Nyhavn og alle hans mange venner” in Information, 10.01.08. From a theoretical perspective, current networks, networking activities and networking culture are of course not new research topics but have been investigated thoroughly at least since Manuel Castells’ The Rise of the Network Society (Castells 1996). In a game of football the field player, the goalkeeper and the referee are dressed differently, marking their role in the game’s structure. Similarly, children take on the role of the baby, the mother or the father and perform a family play (they may even use requisites like costumes to mark their role and expected behaviour). Caillois does not elaborate on his notion of this ‘institution’. One might, though, think of how children’s role-playing reveals the nature of the family – of a certain dynamic in cultural or social phenomena. Caillois further stresses that games are uncertain, meaning that the course (and outcome) of a game cannot be pre-determined. Though rule bound, innovation and initiative is left to the player. This aspect is, however, not thoroughly investigated in this article. The Highgate Cemetery incidents received some media attention in the early seventies: On Friday the 13th, 1970 Manchester had announced an official vampire hunt that resulted in a mob of ‘vampire hunters’ swarming the place – despite police efforts to control them. In a game there are, as also the game theorists Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman state in their book Rules of Play, several layers of rules. The constitutive rules that control the inner dynamics of the game (the algorithms of the game), the explicit rules that may be written in a manual and the implicit rules that are not explicitly stated but followed by the players (Salen & Zimmerman, 2004). A game where the players name words in a particular order and a game where the players run around the room, touching objects in a particular order may have the same constitutive and implicit rules but have very different explicit rules guiding the players’ actual actions. Caillois does not make a distinction like Salen and Zimmerman, but one may add that exclusion from the game may occur on all of the three levels: When the dynamics of the game is altered (as when players change the dynamics of a game by hacking a network computer game or doping themselves) When the actual rules are broken deliberately and consecutively (as when violent behaviour occurs in a non-violent game) When unspoken rules of the game are disobeyed (as when “good sportsmanship” is not demonstrated – in which case the other players simply choose not to play these persons). For a further elaboration on this notion of sociality one may consult Jacques Derrida’s reflections on the notion of hospitality (Derrida & Dufourmantelle 2000). To the professional players – like professional footballers e.g. – it is of course something else. They collect a wage when they leave the pitch because they have not merely played a game but also performed a work. In fact, Caillois remarks, playing is something they do elsewhere in their spare (leisure) time (Caillois 2001, p. 6). Thus, leisure can be lucrative, in the sense that that the spectator may bet on a match winner, and working life may be leisure, in the sense that one can work as a footballer – but the distinction between work and leisure remains intact and constitutive to the game as a private leisure activity.

This may not count for the social network alone but also for an experience culture as such; a culture that regards the interference of fiction in reality as valuable production.