Department

Anthropology Department

First Advisor

Dr. Ruth Toulson

Description

The study of online worlds is a topic of growing significance to cultural anthropologists. World of Warcraft is an online game set in a high fantasy realm that boasts a community of over 10 million people on six continents. Although World of Warcraft has been studied before by Anthropologists, these studies have been primarily focused on how individual identity is created and interacts with the larger community. This paper focuses on the similarities that World of Warcraft and hunter gather societies share: small, egalitarian social groups that all preform similar tasks. Using Slavoj Zizek as a theoretical framework, this project uniquely explores how power is created and controlled within this digital community as well as explores what it means to be egalitarian in an online, subscription based video game. Using the ethnographic method of participant- observation research, individuals playing World of Warcraft gain power and status equal to the skill level and specialized in game knowledge of the player, which allows for greater capitalistic gains, both in game and in the real world.

Comments

Oral Presentation

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Dungeon Play: Understanding World of Warcraft as Traditional Hunting Practice

The study of online worlds is a topic of growing significance to cultural anthropologists. World of Warcraft is an online game set in a high fantasy realm that boasts a community of over 10 million people on six continents. Although World of Warcraft has been studied before by Anthropologists, these studies have been primarily focused on how individual identity is created and interacts with the larger community. This paper focuses on the similarities that World of Warcraft and hunter gather societies share: small, egalitarian social groups that all preform similar tasks. Using Slavoj Zizek as a theoretical framework, this project uniquely explores how power is created and controlled within this digital community as well as explores what it means to be egalitarian in an online, subscription based video game. Using the ethnographic method of participant- observation research, individuals playing World of Warcraft gain power and status equal to the skill level and specialized in game knowledge of the player, which allows for greater capitalistic gains, both in game and in the real world.