Plum

Portfolio > Academic Essays

Grad Essay 2: Crafting a Virtual Identity: Studying the Relationship Between Role-Players and Game Lore in World of Warcraft

Leeeerooooooy Jenkins!

About:

Document Name: Crafting a Virtual Identity: Studying the Relationship Between Role-Players and Game Lore in World of Warcraft

Date Started: 01/2008

Intended Audience: Academic

Purpose/Context: Academic Journal

My Comments:

An ethnographic research project undertaken to be published in the World of Warcraft and Philosophy book with two fellow graduate students. Our initial abstract is as follows:

This research will be a study of the lore of the massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft and its role in the establishment of 'tribal' player affiliations and the formation of character identity. The purpose of this research will be to investigate how players integrate existing game narratives into their own experience, and to study emergent narrative play within a static world. When World of Warcraft players meet in the real world, the initial information exchange usually centers on in-game identity: character name, server, class, and race. The latter can spark a sense of communion or controversy, where players will align themselves with one of two factions - Alliance or Horde - and even make judgments about their fellow players based on this information. This study will investigate how players integrate the narratives and lore of these factions into their group and individual identities through role-play.

The researchers will be using the method of participant observation, participating with players in gameplay and through various other communication media. The research will take place over the Internet, and the ¤field site will include the massively multiplayer game World of Warcraft, as well associated forums, web sites, blogs, journals, and public editable encyclopedias (wikis). Brief interviews will also be conducted with players on a voluntary basis. The findings of this research will be summarized in an academic paper that is planned for peer-review publication in a journal or book volume on multiplayer game cultures.