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Browsing by Author "Gamburg, Bogdana"

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  • Gamburg, Bogdana (2016)
    This thesis examines the ways of how different elements of identity are performed in massively multiplayer online games. It tries to find patterns in identity construction through observation of features, such as gender, age, race, ethnicity, status and religion and how individuals interact with each other. The aim is to explore the premise that because online games provide endless opportunities for identity performance, and thus these identities might have little to do with reality and the offline world. In order to analyze identities online, a number of key topics are covered. These include identity, performativity of identity, online games and players behavior online. Cross-disciplinary theoretical approach is used to attack the problem. Several identity theories are overviewed (Boellstorff, 2008, 2012; Deterding, Waltz, 2012; Jenkins, 2004; Gilchrist et al. 2015; Wetherell, 2015; Goffman, 1959, 1961a; Appelrouth & Desfor, 2008; Crenshaw, 1989). Here identity is understood as an action - individual’s reaction to the society and as a process. Next, performativity of identity is discussed. Special attention is given to the deeply rooted performance discourse in games (Butler, 1990, 1997, 1999; Deterding, Waltz, 2012; Schechner, 2006; Brooks, 2011; Turner, 1982). Finally, key issues on identity performing online are discussed. Those include interconnectivity of offline and online identity, and how they might correlate (Boellstorff, 2008; Horns, Miller 2012; Kozinets, 2011; McGonigal 2012; Thomas 2007; Nakamura, 2002; Sarkeesian, 2012). The methodology used for collecting and analyzing the data draws from netnography, a sub-discipline of online ethnography and digital anthropology, which allows observing online games as a spectacle (Kozinets, 2011; Boellstorff, 2008; Boellstorff et al. 2012). Massively multiplayer online games provide a good possibility to have a large human sample for performance, games, sociological and cultural studies. Online communities of one such game, Clash of Clans, are observed in the game environment and at forums, where players are interacting with each other through written communication over an extended period of time. Number of observations on how age, status, gender and other elements of identity are performed online are recorded. The examples of online conversations are documented and analyzed and parts of the collected data are presented in the paper. Key findings show that individuals demonstrate their feelings and opinions stronger than in offline setting, since online world assumes less moderation and social constraints. However, even though there is a certain degree of freedom online, it is used sparingly. Certain identity experiments are happening online, for example individuals are trying to play a game as a player of an opposite sex. However, on a verbal level, individuals tend to be more truth to their opinions and beliefs (Schau and Gilly, 2003; Whitty, 2004). A strong interconnectivity of online and offline identities in a digital age is found, so the basic hypothesis is contested. Currently hundreds of millions of people of all age groups are the participants of the massively multiplayer online games daily. Players start to take their online identities seriously and their online life starts to affect offline life, cultural, social norms and beliefs. And since we understand that online and offline identity is affecting each other on a deeper level than ever before, research in online massive multiplayer online games should be carried further. The field of game studies and performativity online should not be overlooked. The way identities are presented online mirror identity presentation in offline world closely.