public displays of play

[Abstract:] As research on virtual worlds gains increasing attention in educational, commercial, and military domains, a consideration of how player populations are ‘reassembled’ through social scientific data is a timely matter for communication scholars. This paper describes a large-scale study of virtual worlds in which participants were recruited at public gaming events, as opposed to through online means, and explores the dynamic relationships between players and contexts of play that this approach makes visible. Challenging conventional approaches to quantitatively driven virtual worlds research, which categorizes players based on their involvement in an online game at a particular point in time, this account demonstrates how players’ networked gaming activities are contingent on who they are playing with, where, and when.

TAYLOR, NICOLAS, JENNIFER JENSON, SUZANNE DE CASTELL, AND BARRY DILOUYA. 2014. Public displays of play: Studying online games in physical settings. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. Early view. Available online.