Next week I’ll be speaking on social justice and games research at Loyola University Chicago.
More information on the SIMLab facebook page.
Boundaries, Barriers, and Breaking Through:
Investigating a MMOG community through a social justice framework
As with all games, Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) are a voluntary leisure activity. However, the voluntary nature of play does not necessarily mean these gameworlds are equally open to all. To illustrate barriers to participation I present a case study of EVE Online, a space-themed MMOG with an extremely homogenous player community consisting of primarily economically advantaged white males. Drawing on four years of data collection including participant observation, surveys, interviews, and content analysis of community-created texts, I document how marginalized groups – in particular women and people of colour – are inadvertently and/or actively discouraged from participating in this popular MMOG. And yet, this lack of engagement is held up by existing community members as evidence of women’s lack of interest, which in turn reinforces gender and race-based stereotypes about MMOGs and the people who opt to play them. This investigation addresses a significant gap in current research on MMOGs, which to date has yet to substantially engage in questions about who does not play online games and their reasons for disengagement.