Work in Progress Midway through my last semester …

Work in Progress

Midway through my last semester of my undergrad degree at Concordia University, and I have been keeping relatively busy. Working on my honour’s thesis, which will be presented at the upcoming Sociology & Anthropology Graduate Students Association (SAGSA) conference and a conference paper for DiGRA, and figured I would share the abstracts on my work in progress.

Here is the Honour’s abstract:
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A Definitional Exploration of Identity in Massively Multi-User Online Role-Playing Games

The concept of identity is a wide ranging and ambiguous concept that spans across several academic disciplines. The word identity is flung about quite liberally, without much regard to any deeper definitional concern. This is problematic when dealing with topics that are multi-disciplinary in their very nature. The relatively young field of video-game studies suffers from this problem. Words and concepts are borrowed from several disciplines such as literary studies, film studies, and sociology. This melding of terminology often leads to many discussions and disagreements surrounding definitional concerns, and at times, can cause a potentially exciting theory to be lost in a debate of semantics.

In order to work towards a theoretical perspective in order to understand identity in the context of massively multi-user online role-playing games [MMORPG’s], this presentation will investigate existing theoretical work categorized in three thematic categories; fixed identity, negotiated identity and fluid identity. Through the various theories of identity and its construction, from classical sociological perspectives to post modern theories of identity in the digital age, this paper will explore the impact of how one constructs their identity, how important commitment is to identity and how individuals perceive their identity found within each thematic category.

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And here is the DiGRA abstract:
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Role Theory: The Line Between Roles as Design and Socialization in EverQuest

The point of entry for a player into the game of EverQuest occurs through the role of a primary character. Each character fulfills a particular, functional role within the game that defines the game-play experience for the player. A character’s role defines the basis of identity for both the player and the character while in the game space. The character’s role determines the initial purpose of the player once in the game world. Inherent in the game design is a hierarchy based on class which affects how the game is appropriated by the player.

Traditional sociological role theory explores the functional role of each member within structured groups found in society. Using the works of Parsons [1965], Merton [1949], Turner [1952] and Biddle [1986], among others, this paper aims to work towards a foundational theory that can be used to explore the layered elements that create the social world of massively multi user online games.

This framework will be employed to understand how class structure is designed in the game of EverQuest as expressed through the ideal group. From this ideal group structure, this paper aims to demonstrate how players redefine the role based hierarchies through self regulated rules of play, player choices, and sociability – which in essence, deconstructs the very foundation of role theory that the game is based on.

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Any feedback or insight is always more then appreciated

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