Friendship in Azeroth: a Phenomenological Study of Relationships in the Context of the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game World of Warcraft



Richards, Aubin

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As the world moves further into the 21st century more and more of our social activities take place online. Of particular interest is the social space of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) where the interaction of participants is mediated both in terms of interacting through a computer and a game. The question arises of how relationships in this environment are formed, progress, are impacted by the social norms of the game culture and what significance they have in the lives of those who participate in them. This study aims to address this question from a phenomenological perspective focusing particularly on the perception of reality and how that mediates the relationships involved. The data was gathered several years in an ethnography on a World of Warcraft server via participant observation. The study ultimately concluded that while both the presence of a computer and a game mediated the relationships that they eventually progressed to more 'intense' (if volatile) relationships in which the actual lives of the players seeps into the virtual-world.



MMORPG, Ethnography, Phenomenology, World of Warcraft, Sociology of play