The Expression and Constraint of
Human Agency Within the Massively
Multiplayer Online Games of World of
Warcraft and Eve-Online: a
Comparative Case Study.
Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
This research aims to explore the human and nonhuman means by which human agency
in MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) is governed and negotiated. In this
thesis a theoretical framework incorporating three theoretical perspectives is adopted to
cope with the composite virtual, technical, and social 'spaces' of MMOGs.
The spaces of the MMOG are situated within Bourdieu's theories of field and capital,
while the strategies and position-taking by actors within these fields are framed in a
post-Foucauldian dialectic of governance, with particular emphasis on themes of control
and surveillance. Finally, the complexity and agency of MMOGs in comparison to the
architecture of the traditional panoptic institution, as arrays of interrelated technical
objects, is accounted for by incorporating an actor network (ANT) perspective on nonhuman
agency, with specific reference to Madeline Akrich's 'De-Scription of Technical
Participant observation has been selected for the methodological approach to data
collection for this study, conducted in two month-long participant observation periods in
two vastly different MMOGs: 'World of Warcraft' (WoW) and 'Eve-Online' (Eve).
Mixed methods are used in analysis, consisting of a grounded theory approach to open
coding, supported by documentary sources. Findings are discussed in comparative
mode, allowing for a greater level of understanding of the human and nonhuman forms
of governance and the different impact the coded game environment has upon human
Key findings highlight that the most significant forms of player agency and governance
in each case are those are those negotiated by players, through obtaining authorial
control over the coded rules that define the gameworld, despite publishers' vast power
to define the gameworld through inscribing the code itself. These player-mandated
practices of governance are usually framed as game play, and as they may be negotiated,
their form and function are complex and shifting. This study aims to illustrate this by
contrasting players' practices of governance and with coded rules in each case.
||Massively Multiplayer Online Games; World of
Warcraft; Eve-Online; Human Agency; MMOG;
||Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
||17 Nov 2010 15:14
Repository Staff Only(login required)
||Item control page