Augmentology"...is a concise manual of reality for our digital age."

Mark Hancock,_Augmentology: Interfaccia Tra Due Mondi_

[Sponsored by The Ars Virtua Foundation/CADRE Laboratory for New Media]

Subject x [X] is a 27 year old American male. X began playing the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft [WoW] in June 2005. On Average, X will be logged into WoW between 2 to 8 hours per day. X has created 7 WoW toons or player characters/chars. His characters are located on _Frostmane_, a USA-based realm/server. His main [primary game character] is a level 70 male Gnome Warrior named _Xster_.

X plays Xster during the majority of the time he is engaged within the WoW environment. X has 5 alts [alternate game characters] which he plays sporadically. X also has a bank character which he uses for all in-world economic transactions. He is a member of a group of players who have voluntarily chosen to band together to achieve specific goals within WoW. This group is called a Guild. Xster’s guild is titled _Carpe Pwnum_.

X/Xster is currently immersed in a specific game variable within WoW. This game variable is an instance called _Karazhan _ [Kara] which is an example of a raid. X is present in the instance with 9 of his fellow guild members. Each member has been included specifically for their race, class and talent make-up.

The raid members have just completed one of their raid targets by killing a boss Non-Player Character or NPC. This boss encounter was difficult; it has taken the raiders 4 attempts to kill Attunemen. The unsuccessful attempts ended in the successive deaths of each raid member, otherwise known as a wipe. X decides it is time for a break and informs the other raid members that he’ll be afk [away from keyboard] for 3 minutes taking a “bio break”.

X makes this announcement through 3 channels. The 1st and 2nd are via text, using the /g and /ra commands to tell his guild “afk for 3″ and to tell the raid “afk bio”. The 3rd is via Ventrilo [Vent], a VOIP program through which he has been verbally communicating with his raid team, 3 non-raiding guild members and 2 out-of-game friends.

Before X leaves his computer, he positions Xster in a safe area in-game where he can wait in suspension until X’s return. As X types the /afk command, Xster appears no different to the other raid chars; the toon still loops through a basic standing state. Xster continues to function via base movements such as breathing and blinking as if X is still present and waiting at the keyboard. There are no visual or otherwise discernible char changes occurring in-game to indicate X’s absence apart from his text and verbal announcements.

X has moved to the kitchen and is now, in a geophysical sense, completely afk – an example of “hard afkism”. However, X is also in a hyper-aware state, conscious of the estimated time assigned to his game absence. X has the game volume turned up to allow for monitoring of the raid member’s voices and game sounds. Any heightened verbal intonations may indicate that the raiders require his immediate presence back in-game.

X rushes his food preparations and arrives back at his keyboard within 2 minutes. He switches back into WoW via maximising the game window but does not put on his headphones and thus does not resume his presence in Vent. He is told that several of the other raiders are still afk. He then alt-tabs out of WoW, checks his Insoshi and GeoSimm Philly accounts whilst still unconsciously checking the game via sound scanning [an example of "soft afkism"]. If a combat sound occurs, he will switch back into the game and resume his activity on Vent.