DGV05: cybercommunities and cyberspace

Online games as an example
by Michel Nachez and Patrick Schmoll

The presentation aims at depicting a cybercommunity inside which we have done participant observation. The community’s members have organised themselves online and have created a shared description or account. Some of the peculiarities of this community are to be found again in others.

The community’s pecularities in turn hint at peculiarities of social interaction online: dematerialisation of the concept of physical territory in favor of virtual territory, absence of the body, anonymity, the problem of masks, multiple ‘personalities’, now and then amibuity of gender, transportation of specific shared norms and values, more or less spontaneous manifestations of organisation and interaction, and interplay with artificial agents in hybrid cybercommunities.

This leads to the following questions: is cyberspace—wherein the players “move” and “act”—a means of escapism, or does it lead to an augmented reality? What influence does cyberspace have on society in so far as the players lead a “double life”? What are the boundaries between social simulation and real society concerning MMORPGs—wherein tens of thousands of players meet in a game that never ends? And finally, which reality are we looking at? The reality of the players’ world, or the “reality” of the game, respectively of cyberspace?

Abstract of a presentation to be held at the workshop ‘cyberanthropology’ during the Conference of the German Anthropological Association (GAA aka DGV) – Halle / Saale, 4th – 7th October 2005.
translation of the official German abstract by zeph—put the blame on me