I’m writing this at Breaking the Magic Circle, a seminar at the Game Research Lab at University of Tampere, Finland. Overall, it’s been an interesting seminar. As is typical of game studies gatherings, we’ve heard a mixed bag of presentations on diverse topics and from distinct angles. This can be both stimulating and frustrating at the same time.
My own contribution was a working paper titled Virtual Worlds Don’t Exist. I got some useful feedback, for which I am thankful. Feel free to drop your own feedback either as a comment on this blog or via email. I’ll paste the abstract below. Updated: you can find my presentation slides here.
Abstract: I argue that much of MMO-related scholarship is implicitly based on a dichotomous “real world vs. virtual world” model, which is heavily influenced by the “magic circle” concept in game studies. I show a number of shortcomings in this perspective and propose an alternative perspective based on Anselm Strauss’s social worlds (Strauss, 1978). The alternative perspective unbundles users from the technological platform and places MMO-centered social worlds in context with other worlds like religion and workplace.